This extremely rare 1940 trade catalog the Cooper-Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum Library, Katalog farforu fa︠i︡ansu i maĭoliky, represents the production of not any one company. It is the output of 10 state-owned ceramics factories all over the Ukraine in small towns and villages, after industry was nationalized in 1918. This is a primary source document for the decorative arts and for studying the material culture and political history of the Ukraine and the former Soviet Union.
I’ve been a fan of Newcomb pottery since I first saw an example on the Antiques Roadshow more than a decade ago. Currently I have the opportunity to see Newcomb pottery every day — three pieces are featured in an art pottery and glass exhibit at the National Museum of American History, the building where I work. Simple forms, lovely colors and nature motifs make Newcomb pottery very appealing and highly collectible. But there’s also a compelling story behind the pottery. For March, which is both Women’s History Month and National Craft Month, I want to share information about Newcomb College in New Orleans where the pottery was made. This college offered education and employment for women artists at a time when such opportunities were scarce, especially in the South.
Around March, I’ll be forgiven if I start to pay a little more attention to the genders of the people I come across in our digital book and journal collection. After all, it is Women’s History Month. But one journal I keep coming back to is Keramic Studio, a monthly ceramics magazine produced around the turn of the 20th century that we digitized a couple years ago as part of our Books Online collection. Adelaide Alsop-Robineau began the journal in 1899, and it continued to be published into the 1920s. The work featured in the early years of the journal was primarily contributed by women, including Alsop-Robineau herself, along with her co-editor Anna B. Leonard. Both women were well known ceramics painters and designers. I find myself returning to the journal and perusing the many images and illustrations, especially when I need a dose of design inspiration.
As you may already know, in addition to viewing pages from the online “flippy book”, or BookReader, the Internet Archive (our digitization partner and the SHAC collection’s current point of access) provides versions of digitized items in a variety of file formats so that the general public can download items for use offline or on mobile devices. And while we don’t actively retain granular usage statistics from IA, we get some idea of a title’s general popularity via the download numbers displayed on each item. So, while stopping short of providing objective data about the use of SHAC materials, these stats provide a glimpse into the active lives of the digitized collection. Without further ado, I present the 5 most popular titles from the Smithsonian History, Art, and Culture digital collection: