The Great Halifax Explosion

Along with time, humankind invariably changes the landscape. The geography and a series of events and errors that occurred in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on December 6th, 1917, contributed to the most catastrophic and dramatic man-made violence to a surrounding area and its inhabitants before the Atomic Age. In the annals of disasters of the 20th century, including the Great War, the explosion that occurred at the Canadian harbor was particularly horrifying and more »

Dishing Out Ice Cream in 1912

Is a new kitchen gadget on your holiday wishlist? How about tools for making ice cream? Let’s look at a 1912 trade catalog illustrating some equipment for making and dispensing ice cream.

Guarding the Graves

Cemeteries use a variety of styles to mark graves. The gravestones might be upright or flat. Sometimes both a headstone and footstone mark the grave or a monument might stand at the spot. If you had walked into a cemetery in the late 19th century, what would you have expected to find? Maybe you would have run into a grave guard.

Beyond Blackboards: Teaching Aids in an 1874 Classroom

It’s September and students across the country are now well-settled in their new classrooms, many filled with laptops and high tech, interactive white boards.  What would you expect to find in an 1874 schoolroom? This trade catalog from that year shows typical furniture but also illustrates a few more things, like teaching aids. Though a little lower tech than today’s models, some are still quite innovative.

Sounds of the Phonograph

Imagine it is 1918 and you are resting in a comfortable chair with the phonograph playing. Perhaps this trade catalog will give us a glimpse of what that might have been like almost a century ago.

Willie Vocalite and The Electrical Circus

This post was written by Tracee Haupt, an intern at the National Museum of American History Library. Tracee is a graduate student in the University of Maryland’s dual-degree master’s program for History and Library Science. At six and a half feet tall and three hundred and fifty pounds, Willie Vocalite was an imposing figure. “The Man Who Isn’t a Man,” as a 1934 booklet uncovered in our Trade Literature Collection described him, more »

The Comforts of Camping

When we think of summer, many of us think of traveling and vacations. The Trade Literature Collection includes quite a bit of travel related catalogs. As you might expect, there are catalogs advertising luggage and ones showing different modes of travel, like steamships or the railway. There are also catalogs about camping and everything you would need for a vacation in the outdoors.

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