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Smithsonian Libraries / Unbound

Handwritten Notes Left Behind from a Steamship Journey

Sometimes, planning a trip is as much fun as the trip itself. The Trade Literature Collection at the National Museum of American History Library includes catalogs that might have been used to plan vacations. Some are about summer and winter resorts while others describe railway and steamship travel. Let’s take a look at a late 19th Century trip along the Great Lakes.

Delivery Cars: Making the Rounds in the Early 20th Century

For the past few months, many Americans have relied on delivery vehicles to transport essential goods, like food and other household products. And okay, maybe a non-essential pair of shoes, a game or a book or two. But delivery vehicles are nothing new. Let’s take a look at delivery cars through the lens of this early 20th Century trade catalog.

Abiding Attachments: Artist Emma Stebbins and Actor Charlotte Cushman

Few who walk past the Bethesda Fountain in New York City’s Central Park know the history behind the angel statue, standing high atop the fountain with wings outstretched. This sculpture, called Angel of the Waters, has been the backdrop for many movies and TV shows. The sculpture was made by a wealthy New York sculptor named Emma Stebbins, an artist featured in an album of cartes-de-visites (small, collectible photo cards) of notable 19th century American artists, located in the American Art and Portrait Gallery Library collection. Little is known about Stebbins, even though Angel of the Waters, as noted recently in the New York Times, was “the first public art commission ever awarded to a woman in New York City.”[i] However, what is known about Stebbins has been gleaned from the letters and press coverage of her relationship with famous American actress Charlotte Cushman.

Stereoscope photography of large fountain topped with angel figure.
“Bethesda Fountain, Central Park.” Courtesy of New York Public Library.