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Tag: Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology

Wine and Washington

"Vendemmia" (Harvest). Manuscript miniature from Tacuino Sanitatis, 1350 (Biblioteca Nazionale Austriaca, Vienna)
“Vendemmia” (Harvest). From the manuscript Tacuinum Sanitatis, ca. 1350 (Biblioteca Nazionale Austriaca, Vienna)

Now that the time of harvesting grapes for wine in the Northern Hemisphere is coming to a close, let’s raise an appreciative glass and toast John Adlum, known to a few as the “Father of American Viticulture.” The history of wine making in the United States is involved, to say the least (see Pinney’s magisterial work on the subject*) but it was Adlum who nurtured the first commercially viable vine in this country. And he did so, surprisingly but not incidentally, in the nation’s capital.

Vauban’s Treatise on Seiges added to Transcription Center

Hand-colored illustration of fortified entrance from Traitté des sieges
Hand-colored illustration of fortified entrance from Traitté des sieges

Sébastien Vauban (1633-1707) was the premier military engineer of his age and revolutionized siege warfare. Vauban was a Marshal of France as well as a Marquis. He is best known for his engineering and theoretical approach to fortifications, both on the design and attack fronts. One of his fascinating manuscripts on the fortification of cities was recently uploaded to the Smithsonian Transcription Center where you can help uncover its secrets.