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Tag: Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology

The Concord Grape and American Wine Making

Ephraim Wales Bull (Dibner MS  )
Ephraim Wales Bull tending his vines (Dibner Library, Smithsonian Libraries MSS202A )

 

Now that the season for harvesting grapes in New England is here, let’s raise a glass to Ephraim Bull, the originator of the all-time popular grape in America, the Concord. Readily associated with juice and jelly and long out of favor in viticulture, Concord grape is having a bit of resurgence with the interest in DIY home brewing and fermenting. If faced with an abundance of the easily grown grape on one’s garden fence or arbor, recipes and techniques for bottling your own wine are found in many online guides. For full appreciation, a toast to Bull, his grape and their faded wine history is in order.

 

Fun with #FantasticObjects

On Friday, August 7th, the Smithsonian Libraries and the National Museum of American History hosted a tweetup in the recently renovated Innovation wing (First Floor, West) of the museum. Fifteen Twitter followers joined us for special curator-led tours of Patrick F. Taylor Foundation Object Project, Fantastic Worlds: Science and Fiction, 1780-1910 and the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology. The group of tweeters represented a fun mix of educators, book lovers, and history enthusiasts. Participants came from as far away as Kansas and Connecticut!

Charting the Chesapeake from a Civil War Map

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.

Viewing the Universe from the Dibner Library

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.

18th Dibner Library Lecture Manuscript Published

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.

Dibner Scholar Pamela O. Long Named MacArthur Foundation Fellow

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).

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.