(Not so) Secret life of a woman naturalist: Mrs. Jane C. Loudon 1808-1878

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 »

The ABC’s of the Corcoran Artist Files: the H’s

In the series called “The ABCs of the Corcoran Artist Files” the American Art and Portrait Gallery (AA/PG) Library will explore artists through the materials from the recent Corcoran Vertical File Collection donation by featuring artists whose surnames begin with that letter. This time we are looking at the artists whose last names start with H. This exhibition and blog post was curated and researched by Minchi Hyun, a graduate student in the Museum Education Program more »

The Fix: Preservation and “Principles of Beauty Relative to the Human Head” Part II

A few months ago I wrote a detailed blog post on the treatment of the tissue paper overlays in Principles of Beauty Relative to the Human Head. The following blog post will detail the remaining treatment for this book.

The Fisk Jubilee Singers: Preserving African American Spirituals

In honor of Black History Month, we present a small but important part of African-American history and culture: the Fisk Jubilee Singers. This a cappella group of nine students from Fisk University was organized in 1871 to raise money ($20,000, to be exact) for their financially troubled institution. They succeeded magnificently. In the process, they were instrumental in preserving traditional African American spirituals and bringing them to a vastly wider audience, both more »

Window Dressing in the 19th Century

Trade catalogs might include products sold by stores, but those stores also need fixtures to display the products. Some of the catalogs in the Trade Literature Collection illustrate retail display fixtures, like this one from 1894.

Summer 2018 Internship Opportunities

Interested in a career in museum libraries? Want to know more about philately? Native American art? Natural history?  Take a look at the diverse offerings of the Smithsonian Libraries General Internships for Summer 2018. These flexible, part-time opportunities offer unique learning experiences in the largest museum library system in the world. Gain hands-on experience with the mentorship of skilled research librarians. One project can even be performed virtually!     This year’s more »

“An American Slave:” The Narrative of Frederick Douglass on the 200th Anniversary of his Birth

February 14th, 2018 marks the 200th birthday (observed) of Frederick Douglass. Interested in contributing to his legacy? Join the Transcribe-a-thon organized by Colored Conventions and the Smithsonian Transcription Center. Autobiographies of antebellum slaves, fugitive or former, are an extensive and influential tradition in American culture and a distinctive contribution to world literature. They speak to the country’s founding identity, giving voice to those in bondage and their search for freedom. They provide more »

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