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A president’s pictorial life

In honor of President’s Day and George Washington’s birthday, we’re featuring the Pictorial life of George Washington. Although published in 1848, it’s available today in its entirety in our Digital Library. This illustrated biography traces Washington’s life from birth through his first years as president. The engravings depict many of Washington’s heroic moments in battle, in addition to his early childhood and family life.

Thirty years in Washington

In honor of George Washington’s Birthday and President’s Day, we’d like to highlight this charming little history of our Nation’s Capital, which pays special attention to the White House.

It’s Not Called Washington for No Reason …

As noted by Smithsonian namesake James Smithson in his personal copy of Travels through the states of North America: and the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, during the years 1795, 1796, and 1797, 1807 by Isaac Weld: Thanks George, for this capital city and happy birthday! —Elizabeth Periale

Potash: Not Just for Soap

James Boyd Davies. The practical naturalist's guide: containing instructions for collecting, preparing and preserving specimens in arsenic all departments of zoology, intended for the use of students, amateurs and travellers, 1858. Recipes for arsenic soaps. On today, July 31, in 1790, the first U.S. Patent was granted to Samuel Hopkins. From the United States Patent and Trademark Office: On July 31, 1790 Samuel Hopkins was issued the first patent for a process of making potash, an ingredient used in fertilizer. The patent was signed by President George Washington. Hopkins was born in Vermont, but was living in Philadelphia, PA when the patent was granted. Potash, from Wikipedia: Potash is the common name for potassium carbonate and various mined and manufactured salts that contain the element potassium in water-soluble form. In some rare cases, potash can be formed with traces of organic materials such as plant remains. Potash is used to make everything from soap to fertilizer to glass. The recipe book above focuses mainly on arsenic soap, for a naturalist's more »

Happy Birthday George!

I wonder if our nation's first president ever witnessed as snowy a winter—in Washington, D.C., the capital city that bears his name—as we have this winter, the capital he helped select as "the metropolis of the United States." We all have heard about his snowy times in Valley Forge . . . —Elizabeth Periale Isaac WeldTravels through the states of North America : and the provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, during the years 1795, 1796, and 1797, 1807

New notable additions to AA/PG library in September

Bobrick, Benson.  Master of War: The Life of General George H. Thomas.  New York: Simon & Schuster, 2009. Although during his time he was considered by some to be the greatest Civil War Union general, George H. Thomas' reputation faded in contrast to those of Ulysses S. Grant and William Sherman and as a result, Thomas is much less famous than the other two today. The author tries to correct this. Among his many accomplishments, Thomas gave the Union its first major victory at Mill Springs, Tennessee, helped secure Middle Tennesee, saved the day at Chickamauga, destroyed Hood's army in Nashville to end the war in the West, and used his spy network to help capture Jefferson Davis in Georgia. He was also the only Union general to destroy two Confederate armies. Bobrick's book traces the life of Thomas and his many accomplishments in order to reestablish the fame and distinction of the general. Chana, Leonard F., Susan Lobo, and Barbara Chana.  The Sweet Smell of Home: The Life and more »

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