A Summer Gown

How would a Victorian lass keep cool in the dog days of August? Possibly with a summer gown, from The Woman's Book of 1894. This image can be also be found in The Making of A Homemaker, curated by Erin Clements Rushing. in an excerpt from the digital collection's introductory essay, it is clear how busy a Victorian woman's life was: The great depth of information contained in these Victorian era handbooks signifies not only the elaborate households of the era, but the amount of knowledge women were expected to obtain. Though restricted outside of her domestic sphere, within it she was brilliant. The books helped in "preserving serenity of mind amid the trials of domestic life". These volumes present not only interesting documents of women's history, but also help us to observe changes in America's domestic customs and traditions over the past few hundred years. The handbooks of the late nineteenth century also leave behind a great legacy in domestic economy guides, from Good Housekeeping to Martha Stewart. The more »

Libraries Users Survey—Question 1

Claire Catron, Head, Interlibrary Loan Office, Vicki Avera, Special Project Manager and Librarian Polly Lasker initiated a users survey as part of the Libraries strategic planning efforts to connect with users by monitoring user trends. The survey was limited to short time users, including fellows, interns, researchers and contract workers. This group was targeted because they are at the Smithsonian for a limited time and normally use Libraries resources heavily. It was also reasoned that this group presumably came from major educational facilities and research institutions with exceptional resources.  The core questions of the survey were decided upon by Catron, Avera and Lasker. The first phase of the survey included users expiring from mid-May through the end of June 2009. Phase 2, July—August, is currently being emailed to short time users. Phase 3, September—December and Phase 4 January—April 2010, are to follow. The first phase of the survey was emailed to 105 users. 85 received the survey, 28 completed it, giving a response rate of 33%. In a series of more »

National Apple Week

The Libraries can celebrate National Apple Week with this illustration of a crab apple by Asa Gray, one of many gorgeous plates included in this report, originally published by the Smithsonian institution in 1891.—Elizabeth Periale Asa Gray, Plates prepared between the years 1849 and 1859, to accompany a report on the forest trees of North America, 1891, American Crab Apple

From August, 1869…

…comes this catalog from the Libraries' collections, The New York Coach-Maker's Magazine. Featured here is a physician's phaeton, just one of many state-of-the-art conveyances from this interesting item. Take a trip to 140 years ago, courtesy of the Libraries, where you can travel in style, whether in a piano-box buggy, dog cart, or never mind…—Elizabeth Periale The New York Coach-Maker's Magazine, Devoted to the Literary, Social, and Mechanical Interests of the Craft, 1858-1870, August 1869, Buggy Sleigh. Physician's Phaeton

Summer warbler

We have already featured the lovely artwork of Genevieve Jones in a previous post. But this delicate rendering of a summer warbler from the Libraries' online show Illustrations of Nests and Eggs of the Birds of Ohio helps make the summer last just a little longer.—Elizabeth Periale Howard Jones, Illustrations of the nests and eggs of birds of Ohio, 1879-1886, Summer Warbler

How to build vivaria

The illustration features a vivarium which can be used in summer or winter: …more suitable, with certain exceptions, for Snakes than Lizards, as the latter are apt to climb up the canvas and so escape when the lid is unwarily opened. Gregory Climenson Bateman, The vivarium, being a practical guide to the construction, arrangement, and management of vivaria . . ., 1897, Fig. 3. Snake or Lizard Glass Case for Summer or Winter Use [chameleon cage] More ideas for what goes inside this summer project can be found here.—Elizabeth Periale

Alexander Lawrie carte-de-visite – AA/PG Library

Alexander Lawrie (born New York, NY, 1828; died Lafayette, IN, 1917) Alexander Lawrie, son of a Scottish immigrant, started his artistic career by apprenticing as a wood engraver at the age of 16. By 1852 he had moved to Phildadelphia where he was most likely enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts where several of his paintings were exhibited. In 1855 Lawrie and his friend William Trost Richards (an American landscape artist) sailed to Europe. After a brief time in Paris, Lawrie went to Düsseldorf Germany and began studying with Emanuel Leutze (an artist most famous nowadays for his painting of Washington Crossing the Delaware). After 22 months with Leutze, Lawrie went to Florence for further instruction and returned to the United States in 1857. When the American Civil War broke out, Lawrie enlisted as private in the Seventeenth Regiment of the Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry in 1861 and rose to the rank of Captain. As part of General Burnside's march from Sharpsburg, MD to Fredericksburg, VA, Lawire was more »

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