One intern’s trip around the World’s Fairs

–This post was written by Jenna Fattah, a Summer 2017 intern at the American Art & Portrait Gallery Library. She is a junior at Indiana University Bloomington studying History. She hopes to continue on to get her Masters in Library Science. Interested in interning with Smithsonian Libraries? Check out our internship opportunities for Spring 2018. As an American Art & Portrait Gallery Library intern, I was lucky to spend my summer surrounded more »

Adopt “Souvenir views of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition”

2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the Panama–Pacific International Exposition, held in San Francisco, between February 20 and December 4 in 1915. Its ostensible purpose was to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal, but it was widely seen in the city as an opportunity to showcase its recovery from the 1906 earthquake. The fair was constructed on a 635 acre (2.6 km2) site in San Francisco, along the northern shore now more »

Joseph Dimuro, Baird Society Resident Scholar

When asked about his summer research on the Ferris wheel, Resident Scholar Joseph Dimuro’s eyes gleamed like a child who had just ridden one for the first time. He replied, “Not just any Ferris wheel – the 1893 World’s Columbian Exhibition Ferris Wheel in Chicago: the major engineering feat and symbol of America at the end of the 19th Century.”

The Up and Down History of the Zipper

From its humble beginnings as an "Automatic Continuous Clothing Closure" invented in 1851 by Elias Howe to the "Clasp Locker" patent in 1893 and marketed by Mr. Whitcomb Judson, the zipper as we know it today, had little commerical success. It was not until Whitcomb partnered with businessman Colonel Lewis Walker—together they launched the Universal Fastener Company to manufacture the new device. The "Clasp Locker" made is debut in 1893 at the the Chicago World's Fair. Gideon Sundback, an electrical engineer who worked for the Universal Fastener Company, worked on the design by increasing the number of fastening elements. His design had two facing-rows of teeth pulled into a single piece by the slider and he increased the opening for the teeth. By December 1913 he had created the modern zipper and in 1917 the patent for "Separate Fastener" was issued. It wasn't until the B.F. Goodrich Company decided to use Gideon's fastener on a new type of rubber boot—they renamed the fastener to zipper and the name stuck. The major more »

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