Benjamin Franklin’s Political Arithmetic – 3

Here is a third excerpt from the Libraries' Dibner Library lecture publication, Benjamin Franklin's Political Arithmetic: A Materialist View of Humanity by Joyce E. Chaplin, the James Duncan Phillips Professor of Early American History at Harvard University. If you would like to receive the lecture in print, please contact the Dibner Library. If you missed the first two installments, or can't wait for the next one, you may also view the PDF. The publication has also been getting positive notice from the blogosphere. Benjamin Franklin's Political Arithmetic: A Materialist View of Humanity by Joyce E. Chaplin He encouraged the readers of Poor Richard to see for themselves the “remarkably entertaining Objects” to be seen under “that admirable Instrument the MICROSCOPE” The device would show them the tiny “Animalcules to be found…in the Infusions of Pepper, Senna, Pinks, Roses, Jessamin, Tea, Raspberry From Adams’s Micrographia illustrata . Stalks, Fennel, Sage, Melons, sour Grapes, Wheat, Hay, Straw, and almost all vegetable Substances.” A microscope would also display a polyp, the tiny aquatic more »

Women’s History Month: Tatiana Ehrenfest

Mathematician Tatiana Ehrenfest is one of many scientific portraits to be found in the Libraries' Scientific Identity: Portraits from the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology: Tatiana Ehrenfest (1876-1964) The scientific portrait collection in the Dibner Library was assembled by Bern Dibner, who obtained most of the portraits during the 1940s from print dealers in Boston, London, and Paris. By 1950 he had about two thousand images and arranged them into ten scientific subdivisions: Botany, Chemistry, Electricity, Geology, Mathematics, Medicine, Philosophy, Physics, Technology, and Zoology. The portraits are of various types: woodcuts, copper and steel engravings, mezzotints, lithographs, oil paintings, and photographs. Many of them are images that were printed as separate items, used as gifts to send to colleagues and admirers. The exchange of portraits among scientists in the eighteenth century became a very popular form of correspondence. A number of prints also served as frontispieces of books and, unfortunately, a few of the prints in the collection had originally been bound as pages in books more »

Treasures from the AA/PG Library – Album of cartes-de-visite

The Smithsonian American Art Museum/ National Portrait Gallery Library (AA/PG) grew out of the Smithsonian’s National Museum, later known as the “National Gallery of Art”. In 1937 the Andrew Mellon gift of art was given to the nation to form the beginning of the collection of what is now know as the National Gallery of Art. As a result, the Smithsonian's National Gallery of Art became the National Collection of Fine Arts (NCFA). When plans were underway for the new National Portrait Gallery in 1964, the NCFA library collections were combined with those for the new Gallery. The Library collection was then developed to reflect the missions of the two museums with strong holdings in American art, as well as American history and biography. In 1980, the NCFA was renamed the “National Museum of American Art”; then in 2000 it became the “Smithsonian American Art Museum”. The AA/PG Library's collection has many special treasures in its collection which we will feature over time.  The first is a book of cartes-de-visite more »

Women’s History Month: Carrie H. Lippincott

Carrie H. Lippincott from Minneapolis, Minnesota, was the self-titled “Pioneer Seedswoman of America.” She started a seed business in 1886 out of the necessity of increasing the family income. By 1896 the business claimed they had received 150,000 orders. A quote from a contemporary publication said “the key to her success is prompt service, best seeds, reasonable prices, beautiful flowers, by a woman.” Most of the lithographs in Lippincott’s catalogs portrayed women or children. Lippincott’s approach to marketing through her emphasis on a woman-owned company led to at least two other seed firms in Minneapolis beginning business under women’s names. Their catalogs were also similar in size and illustration. Lippincott was convinced that men owned these companies. Her 1899 catalog stated “it is a peculiar thing in this day and age that a man should want to masquerade in woman’s clothing…I do not advise a life of business for any woman when it can be avoided. It means self-sacrifice…” From The American Seed and Nursery Industry bibliography. —Elizabeth Periale

Cooper-Hewitt Caldwell & Company event a huge success

On Saturday, February 28, 2009, the Cooper-Hewitt Library celebrated the release of the new online Caldwell database to feature over 35,000 photographs and drawings from the Caldwell & Company archive collection. Margaret Caldwell, great-granddaughter of E.F. Caldwell, spoke about the firm’s origins, craftsmanship, clients and importance in the decorative arts world. She showed many photos and drawings from the collection on the screen, and there were several originals on display. Jennifer Cohlman gave an overview of the digital project and a live demonstration of the Caldwell database. Over 100 people enjoyed the talk, viewed the displays and celebrated at a reception following the presentation. Cooper-Hewitt Librarian Stephen Van Dyk would like to thank everyone who worked so hard on this project over the past year and helped to make it such a success! —Jennifer Cohlman

Burpee’s wasn’t just seeds

The Libraries has an extensive collection of seed catalogs as part of its trade literature collection. One of the many companies represented in our collection that is still in business today is Burpee's. But Burpees didn't limit itself to just seeds in 1897: W. Atlee Burpee & Co., Burpee's Manual of Thoroughbred Live Stock and Fancy Poultry, 1897 —Elizabeth Periale

Women’s History Month & BHL: Catherine Cooper Hopley

This featured Biodiversity Heritage Library book, contributed by the Ernst Mayer Library at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology, is from the nineteenth century author Catherine Cooper Hopley. Hopley not only wrote educational children's books on reptiles and amphibians but also penned the series "Life in the South", an account of society and culture in the American south after the Civil War. Find books by Catherine Cooper Hopley in SIL collections. View more books by Hopley in the BHL. —Erin Clements Rushing

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