Staying cool for a 19th Century picnic

+-*Today, many of us are probably familiar with insulated bags that help keep food cold, or even warm, until you get to your destination. But did you know there was a picnic basket in the nineteenth century that did something similar?

Increasing accessibility with the “MARC cocktail”

+-*This post was written by Lesley Parilla, database manager and cataloger for the Field Book Project. What is a library to do when it has fabulous materials to share with users, but making library records for each item requires significantly more time than a typical collection? This was the challenge of the Russell E. Train Africana collection. It contained materials with both broad public appeal and significant historical value, however content and more »

#FantasticObjects Tweet Up with National Museum of American History!

+-*Join us for a Tweet Up with the National Museum of American History and Smithsonian Libraries! Friday, August 7, 9:00-10:30 A.M. (EDT). To celebrate the opening of the Innovation Wing in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, 10 lucky Twitter followers will have the opportunity to experience a special tour of two of the wing’s exhibits led by Smithsonian experts and a behind-the-scenes tour of the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology.

Katzenberger Internship: Art and Artist Files Research at the Hirshhorn and American Portrait Gallery Libraries

+-*The inescapable question for any college senior is always some variation of “So, graduation is coming up soon, what you plan on doing with your future?” It seems that all other conversation topics must make way to this frightening yet incredibly relevant question.

“For the Increase and Diffusion of Knowledge:” from 18th-Century France to the Libraries’ Collections

+-*James Smithson, whose bequest led to the establishment in the mid-19th century of the American institution that now bears his name, famously stated in his will that funds should be used for the “increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.” This seemingly vague request is rooted in Enlightenment philosophy, the desire to create order and understanding in the world. As Heather Ewing wrote in The lost world of James Smithson, he was more »

Bloch’s Allgemeine Naturgeschichte der Fische

+-*For many Americans, mid-summer is best spent by the shore; beaches and lakes are traditionally packed this time of year. And if you’re lucky, that little time by the water will involve a glimpse at some aquatic life — a sand crab, a sea star, perhaps a fish or two. If your summer sightings have inspired an interest in fish (or perhaps you want to save yourself the sunscreen and view some more »

Vintage Fireworks for the Fourth

+-*This post was written by Adrian Vaagenes, intern in the National Museum of American History Library. The 4th of July is upon us, and for many of us this means, to borrow a quote from The Simpsons, it’s “time to celebrate the independence of our nation by blowing up a small part of it”. Just as we enjoy lighting roman candles, sparklers, cherry bombs, and m-80’s, these pieces of trade literature in more »

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