Author’s note: Elizabeth Gould was a 19th century artist responsible for some of the most historically significant images of birds ever published. She was also a devoted wife and mother. It is sometimes difficult to reconcile both of these aspects of her life through our modern lens of 21st century social issues and feminism; it can be tempting to paint her story as that of a woman repressed by antiquated gender roles, more »
In 1827, seventeen-year-old Jane Webb was adjusting to life after the death of her father. She stated that, “on the winding up of his affairs that it would be necessary to do something for my support.”[i] She chose a rather creative solution to her financial challenges; she wrote a science fiction novel. It did well, and Jane had a successful writing career, but never again wrote in the sci-fi genre. If a more »
This post was written by Brittney Falter, a graduate student at George Mason University and social media intern at the Smithsonian Libraries. Matilda Betham was born in 1776 and raised in Suffolk, England. She learned portrait painting as a means to support herself and moved to London when her family faced financial troubles. Betham showed her art work at the Royal Academy and painted portraits of poets like George Dyer and Robert more »
This post was written by L.K. Ward and was originally published on the Oceans Portal blog on March 21st, 2016. You may not have realized it, but you’ve been acquainted with Mary Anning since you were young. “She sells sea shells by the sea shore.” Remember this grade school tongue-twister? What you probably didn’t know is that this nursery rhyme is based on a real person who not only sold seaside curiosities more »
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 more »
This March, in honor of Women’s History Month we’re highlighting notable women who are represented in our collections. Sophie Blanchard was the first professional female aeronaut in history. Born March 25, 1778 near La Rochelle, France, Sophie was initiated into ballooning by her husband Jean-Pierre-François Blanchard, himself a pioneer in ballooning. Jean-Pierre along with his co-aeronaut Dr. John Jeffries, were the first to cross the English Channel by balloon in 1785.
This post was written by Dr. Alexander Nagel, Research Associate with the National Museum of Natural History’s Department of Anthropology. In the fall semester of 2015, I was teaching a course on *Classical Heritage in Washington: Encounters in the Museum* for students from the University of Maryland. Every Friday afternoon around 2pm, students would meet with colleagues and curators, archivists and archaeologists, diplomats and thinkers who work on aspects of heritage more »
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