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Tag: Smithsonian Libraries

Looking Closely: Two Women in Book History

The Smithsonian Libraries does not contain an overwhelming number of notable bookbindings in its collections. Unlike some other research institutions, fine or interesting covers are not a collecting focus or reason for acquiring a title. Many of our books have had a hard life, well-used over the decades by staff and researchers in the museums’ departments. These survivors have often been rebound in library buckram (sturdy but oh so boring) or been slapped with labels and barcodes (from an earlier time of library practice). So it is always a thrill to come across a striking specimen of an original binding.

The Wondrous Winter Wonderland that was 16th-Century Sweden

An entry into this magical season can be gained through the Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus (History of the Northern Peoples) by Olaus Magnus, first published in Rome in 1555. It is a work greatly valued by Smithsonian curators and researchers and other scholars, since the author – a true Renaissance man – wrote down his geographical, anthropological and naturalistic observations of a land unknown to much of Europe of the time. In the present day, the book’s vivid descriptions and woodcut illustrations offer a wealth for modern study: early shipbuilding, fishing and whaling practices, meteorology, agriculture and mining techniques, warfare, daily occupations and religious practices of the Scandinavian peoples. It also provides wonderful images for what we have come to perceive as traditional for the winter holidays.

Joe Froggers: The Weight of the Past in a Cookie

Interested in culinary history and books? Join us on Wednesday, November 16th for our Annual Adopt-a-Book Evening, featuring a food and drink theme!

Slavery and freedom, the Revolutionary War, New England’s maritime culture and life, Colonial revivalism, trade, women’s role in the economy, the development of regional cuisines, the not-fully-explored history of African Americans in the North. More than just molasses, spices and rum, there is a heady mix of history in the Joe Frogger. Can all these ingredients of America’s past be found in a cookie?

A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down

This is the second post in a two-part series. Catch up on the first part hereAllegra Tennis interned with the Field Book Project and Metadata Services over the summer to investigate Smithsonian research related to countries with populations of under a million.

I came to the field of librarianship from a scientific background.  The processes, details, and discoveries to be made have always held a magical quality for me.  As I grew up and talked with others, I began to notice that not everyone views science in this way.  Many people seem to be interested in science, whether in the idea of it, the usefulness of it, or they raw beauty of it.  Yet too often people are intimidated by science, either by the research or by the researchers themselves.

No Wheat Chex, and other scientific issues of the 1960s

This is the first post in a two-part series.

Lawrence N. Huber devoted several pages of his journal lamenting the fact that the Navy vessel he was aboard had run out of Wheat Chex.  This comes from a young man who was out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, banding thousands of often rather uncooperative birds, making observations of any type of fauna he came across in the Pacific Islands, and swimming in the ocean with open abrasions with the stated intention of attracting sharks.  All these things to write about (which he also does), but his main complaints revolve around food, the quality of it, the quantity of it, and the absence of it, as in the case of his beloved Wheat Chex.