The Renwick Gates in the Smithsonian Libraries

 Morgan E. Aronson and Julia Blakely co-authored this piece.   James M. Goode, former Keeper of the Smithsonian Institution Building (affectionately known as “The Castle”) received this year the Individual Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation in Washington, DC. In a short biographical video for this honor, Dr. Goode references a guidebook in the Smithsonian Libraries as a key source in the creation of the Renwick Gates, one of his more »

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.

Wonder Woman investigated: National Comic Book Day at the Dibner Library

Amid the manuscripts, incunabula and early modern texts at the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology are two bright blue binders that don’t seem to quite fit, in every sense of the word. Too big for the shelf and too 20th century for the Dibner, don’t judge these books by their covers! In honor of National Comic Book Day we would like to highlight two of the Dibner’s most popular more »

The Art of Louis Agassiz Fuertes / El Arte de Louis Agassiz Fuertes

To celebrate Hispanic American Heritage Month, the Smithsonian Libraries is honoring Puerto Rican American natural history illustrator Louis Agassiz Fuertes with a blog post in both English and Spanish. The Spanish translation (bottom of page) is courtesy of Angel Aguirre, library technician at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) Library in Panama City, Republic of Panama.

Creating Colors for the Image Gallery

This post was written by Deja Bond, the Kathryn Turner Diversity and Technology Intern in the Smithsonian Libraries’ Web Services Department. Deja is an undergraduate Computer Science student at Spelman College. Her work this summer consisted of developing techniques to create data for enhancing the Libraries’ forthcoming Image Gallery re-launch later this year. My project was to design and code an algorithm to identify the predominant colors within an image. When someone more »

Charles Freer’s Library

In addition to his art collection, Charles Lang Freer gave a substantial number of books from his personal library to the Smithsonian Institution. These books are wide ranging in subject matter including not only Asian and American Art but also mythology, anthropology, auction catalogs, and travel guides.  The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Library staff has been working to find them in its collection and identify Mr. Freer’s more »

Monoceros: What Conrad Gessner’s discussion of the unicorn tells us about natural history in Renaissance Europe

This post was written by James Truitt, intern in the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History. In August, the National Museum of Natural History opened Narwhal: Revealing an Arctic Legend, an exhibition about the tusked whale monodon monoceros sometimes called the unicorn of the sea. Most of the exhibit focuses on narwhal biology, arctic ecology, and Inuit culture, but one section breaks from the polar theme to explore another legacy of more »

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