Familiar with its waters, I was delighted when an early chart of the Chesapeake Bay, entitled Map of part of Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware of 1861, appeared in my cataloging queue. But then who doesn’t like looking at old maps? Getting absorbed in what is fanciful, long-gone or merely changed, and finding remnants of the well-known from a long association with the landscape. And reading any map on paper doesn’t happen every day now, let alone a very rare one.
Tag: Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology
The Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology was created from a gift by Bern Dibner, electrical engineer, inventor, collector, and science historian. At the heart of this collection are Dibner’s “Heralds of Science” , 200 seminal works that Dibner himself believed marked significant scientific advancement in their respective fields. One area that is particularly fascinating is the astronomy section.
The Smithsonian Libraries has published a new Dibner Library Lecture manuscript, The Philosophical Breakfast Club and the Invention of the Scientist, by author Laura J. Snyder, associate professor of philosophy at St. John’s University in New York City. Begun in 1992, the Dibner Library Lectures feature a distinguished scholar who has made significant contributions to his or her field of study. Since 2000, the Dibner Library Lecture has become available in published form. The lecture series and its publication are made possible by the support of the Dibner family.
Pamela O. Long, an independent historian of late medieval and Renaissance history and the history of science and technology, was recently awarded the prestigious MacArthur “genius grant.” The MacArthur Fellowship is an annual award to “talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.” Long performed research as a Dibner Library Resident Scholar from February-April 1993. Her research topic was Openness, Secrecy, Authorship, Intellectual Property, and Studies in the Technical, Practical, and Military Traditions of Pre-modern Europe, which led to the published Power, Patronage, and the Authorship of Ars: From Mechanical Know-how to Mechanical Knowledge in the Last Scribal Age (March 1997).
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.
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.