A Zinnia Grows in Space

National Garden Month blasts off with zinnias, written by Robin Everly and Julia Blakely. Smithsonian Libraries, most days, is like a typical library system — we assist staff and visitors with information needs, purchase books, check in journal issues, digitize, catalog, and of course, shelve books. However, the Smithsonian being the Smithsonian, sometimes your ordinary day turns upside down into something else. It’s what makes working here so fun and interesting. Such a day occurred November 10, 2016, when a Smithsonian Gardens’ horticulturist contacted our librarian in the Botany and Horticulture Department about attractive 19th-century books featuring information about zinnias. He was working with a National Air and Space Museum (NASM) film crew on an educational program about Astronaut Scott Kelly’s growing zinnias on the International Space Station (ISS). The botanical librarian, along with our catalog librarian in the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History, came up with some stunning botanical illustrations and set up a display in the rare book reading room for the filmmakers. From these more »

In Celebration of Charles Lindbergh and His Transatlantic Flight

This year, February 4th marks the 115th birthday of one of America’s heroes of flight: Charles Lindbergh. To commemorate his birthday, the Smithsonian Libraries examines The First Flight from New York to Paris by Colonel Ch. A. Lindbergh.

Journal des Marches: Operational Logs of the Lafayette Escadrille

The year 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the “Escadrille Américaine” or the Lafayette Escadrille. Created on December 6, 1916, the Escadrille (or “squadron”) holds a unique place both in the history of World War I (1914-1918) and in the history of aviation overall. Most notably, the Escadrille was composed of American volunteers who chose to fight for France years before the United States’ official entry into the Great War, in April more »

The brief and entertaining history of the Second Army Air Service

The Second Army Air Service was a unit of the United States Army  stationed on the Western Front during World War I. The Second Army Air Service Book, from the collections of the National Air and Space Museum Library, offers a purposely light-hearted account of the unit’s brief history. The group’s arrival in France came a mere month before an armistice was signed ending the war on November 11th, 1918.  

The Short, Soaring Life of Lieutenant Selfridge

One does not readily associate “firsts” in aviation history with either Washington, D.C. or with the Scottish-born scientist and engineer Alexander Graham Bell. Alas, the first fatality in a powered aircraft connects both the nation’s capital and the inventor of the telephone. The Smithsonian’s collections give testament to many aeronautical and military milestones, including the brief but significant life of Thomas E. Selfridge. 

Smithsonian Libraries Celebrates Women Pioneers in Air & Space

As the month of March winds down, the Smithsonian Libraries (SIL) honors Women’s History Month by celebrating women pioneers in the field of air and space.

Morale: the Navy’s Trans-Atlantic flight

In honor of Memorial Day, we feature this recently digitized book, Morale: the Navy’s Trans-Atlantic flight.

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