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Tag: trade literature

Painted Backgrounds for Turn of the Century Photographers

They’re all over social media – frames, filters, and special camera effects on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and other platforms to help you add pizzazz to your selfies and other photos. But is anything really new these days? We found something that may be the grandfather (or at least great uncle) of social media filters – hand-painted backgrounds for photography studios dating from the early 1900s.

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.

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, was barrel-chested with gleaming red eyes and a friendly expression. He was often pictured with a cigarette hanging jauntily from his lips, and later in his career he adopted a fashionable mustache that gave him the cavalier look of a 1930s movie star. Willie was a star of sorts–beginning in 1931, his act toured America from coast to coast drawing hundreds of thousands of spectators eager to see the “world famous robot” who could move, talk, and respond to voice commands.