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Edith Wharton on Italian Villas and their Gardens

Smithsonian Collections - 8 hours 42 min ago
Front cover of the 1904 edition of Italian Villas and Their Gardens

Now that spring has finally arrived in the Washington, D.C. area after a very cold and snowy winter, it’s not surprising to have a beautiful book on gardens catch the eye. This gorgeous book, Italian Villas and Their Gardens by Edith Wharton, has been recently transferred from the Smithsonian LibrariesBotany and Horticulture Library to the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History. The volume was brought to my attention by our contract rare materials cataloger, Julia Blakely, who incidentally has been doing historical research on the gardens of the British Ambassador’s residence in Washington and who has quite an eye for a great book with a gardening theme.

The gifted American novelist Edith Wharton (1862-1937), whose extensive travels included visits to some of the finest aristocratic homes and estates of Europe, was well qualified to describe the glories of Italian villas and their fine gardens. Her book is organized geographically, with chapters on Florence, Siena, Rome and its outskirts, Genoa, Lombardy, and the Veneto.  Keenly interested in landscape design, Wharton included an appendix with short biographies of the architects and garden designers mentioned in her book. Her critical eye for the differing tastes and habits of upper class Americans and Europeans, as outlined in this book, comes across in statements such as this one, from page 11:

[T]he old Italian garden was meant to be lived in —a use to which, at least in America, the modern garden is seldom put.

Italian Villas and Their Gardens includes 26 pictorial plates by Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966), one of the greatest illustrators of the early 20th century. His artistry here, emphasizing curved lines, saturated colors, and the beauty of nature, shows the influence of the international Art Nouveau movement that flourished during this time, a style exquisitely suited to a book on grand villas and gardens.

The sumptuous bookbinding, in dark green cloth stamped with light green, blue, white, brown, and gold, features a colorful garden scene with a fountain, an elegant wall, and stately cypress trees, framed by substantial gilt-stamped Italian Mannerist-style banners with lions and coats of arms. The bookbinding was designed by the Decorative Designers company, identified by the mark of two interlocking letter “D’s”( with the second D reversed) which appears on the lower right side of the front cover.

Bookplate of Walter Goodman Chard and Kathleen Stevens Chard
The Cullman Library’s copy of Italian Villas and Their Gardens was formerly owned by Walter Goodman Chard and Kathleen Stevens Chard, and has their bookplate, which is signed in the lower right corner by the unidentified designer “RRMcG” and dated 1907. The volume is inscribed on the front free endpaper by Walter Goodman Chard to Kathleen Brooks Stevens, Christmas, 1904; the couple was later married in January 1907 and then added the bookplate with their conjoined names. Walter and Kathleen Chard lived together on a 350 acre model farm named Meadowood, in Cazenovia, New York, where they were among the first in the area to use sustainable practices in raising a variety of livestock and crops. Walter Chard also served as the business manager for his brother, architect Thornton Chard, who designed the large, gracious farm house at Meadowood. Given the Chards’ keen interest in architecture and landscape design, it is easy to see how Wharton’s lovely book on Italian Villas and Their Gardens would have been a treasured addition to their personal library.

Italian Villas and Their Gardens by Edith Wharton; illustrated with pictures by Maxfield Parrish and by photographs. New York: Published by the Century Company; printed at the De Vinne Press, 1904.

Call number:  DG420 .W55 1904 SCNHRB Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History

--Diane Shaw, Special Collections Cataloger, with assistance from Julia Blakely and Daria Wingreen-Mason

Zithers, Moscow Mules, and Bucky's Dome

Smithsonian Collections - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 8:00am
As you might gather from reading my past posts on Emory Cook and his record label, Cook Labs, I am  exceedingly fond of the man behind such recordings as Kilts on Parade and Torchy Lullabies my Mother Sang Me. You also may have gathered that when perusing the Cook Labs Records, it's hard not to find some little tidbit that makes you chuckle, or, as is the case in this story, something seemingly inexplicable, yet intriguing and charming nonetheless.

I was digitizing my way through a folder of materials relating to Ruth Welcome, probably the most glamorous zither player I have ever encountered. (Also notable: her music. Turns out, the zither is seriously pleasant to listen to, and in Welcome's hands, one can hear why she was such a popular entertainer in dark and fancy restaurants. Sample her music here.)

Cook-041-16: Ruth Welcome. Cook Labs Records.After several stylish publicity shots, I came across two photographs that hardly fit in with the contents of the file.

Cook-041-23 and Cook-041-24: Dome Restaurant, post-Hurricane Carol. Cook Labs Records. I can't say I was surprised by their presence--at this point, I've learned to let the whimsicality of Emory Cook wash over me--but really, what the heck is happening in these photos? I had no real way of knowing if they actually belonged in the folder at all, but like a good archivist, I left them where they were until I could figure out a better solution. My only clues as to the context of the photographs were that they were taken in front of a wrecked geodesic dome, and that geodesic domes were invented by Buckminster (Bucky") Fuller, a known associate of Emory Cook. There was an inscription on the verso of one of the photographs as well: "Joe- Dome Hurricane Carol 1954".

Half of archival work is making connections between materials. About a month after seeing these photographs, a colleague was flipping through the May 1955 issue of Cook's Audio Bucket newsletter that was sitting on my desk. I caught a glimpse of the instantly recognizable photograph--it accompanied an article titled "The Affair at Woods Hole..." Not only were the photographs directly connected to Ruth Welcome, here was an entire story detailing their context. It was like someone giving me an unexpected birthday present all wrapped up in a big, bright bow. The article is so wonderful, so Cook-ian, that I must present it in its entirety (click to enlarge).

Cook-015-04: Audio Bucket, May 1965, Vol. 1, No. 4. Cook Labs Records.
 This line is a personal favorite: "Poor Ruthie--such beautiful femininity, so innocent, so gentle with her zither,--was unprepared for its capacity for devastating a community, pitting neighbor against neighbor, provoking headlines so shocking as to push man-bite-dog into page two." And our man with the cup? He's holding up a Moscow mule, retrieved from the surviving bar. It's an appropriate cocktail for post-hurricane occasions, I think.

Intrigued by this story of a geodesic dome restaurant on Cape Cod nearly destroyed by a zither/hurricane, I did a little digging (Googling). As our article says, the structure was actually the Dome Restaurant, designed by Bucky Fuller himself. Built in 1954, it was looked upon with distaste by some of the residents of Woods Hole, who liked their wood-shingled cottages just fine, thankyouverymuch. Despite this resistance, it was a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. It was novel, swanky, and striking--imagine listening to the beautiful Ruth Welcome as you dined under the stars, or, during the day, looking out to a spectacular view of the sea. The style is long gone now, but the structure remains on its hilltop in Woods Hole, empty and derelict. There was talk of restoration in 2008, but it doesn't look like anything has happened yet.

This radio story on the history of the restaurant (including reminiscences of Ruth Welcome's performances) is worth a listen if you'd like to learn more.

Cecilia Peterson
Digitization Archivist
Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections

Fine Art of Flower Arrangement and Description

Smithsonian Collections - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 8:00am
Spring is a popular time for flower shows and a major feature of these shows is flower arranging. The Archives of American Gardens recently acquired a collection of photographic slides belonging to floral designer Georgia S. Vance who was best known for her talent of preserving and arranging dried flowers. Vance began her career in the 1960s, and for more than 35 years her flower arrangements decorated the Diplomatic Reception Rooms at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., as well as the White House and other historic homes. 
Dried flower arrangement, Early Colonial style, 1967.Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, Garden Club of America Collection, Georgia Vance SlidesGeorgia Vance’s slide collection features many intricate floral arrangements in a variety of styles, including the Japanese Ikebana technique. In 1972, she published a book, The Decorative Art of Dried Flower Arrangement, which received the Helen S. Hull Award for Literary Horticultural Interest from the National Council of State Garden Clubs. Vance was a member of the Garden Club of America, the Garden Club of Virginia, the Garden Club of Alexandria (Virginia), and the Officer’s Wives Garden Club of Fort Belvoir (Virginia). The Garden Club of Virginia continues to honor her skill in floral design by presenting the annual Georgia S. Vance Award for Most Creative Arrangement. 

Dried flower arrangement, Ikebana, 1970.Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, Garden Club of America Collection, Georgia Vance SlidesFloral arrangement as an art form in the East is a tradition that dates back to 6th century with the practice of Ikebana in Japan.  In the West, floral art enjoyed a heyday during the Victorian era when flower arranging was taught and recognized as an artistic endeavor. However, it wasn’t until the 1930s that floral experts, guidelines for amateurs for creating arrangements, and floral arrangement schools came to the fore in America. 

Today, flower arranging is still considered an art form by those that practice it. The Garden Club of Virginia’s website for flower shows provides extensive categories and definitions about floral styles and designs, including a separate category for designs in the Asian manner: http://www.gcvirginia.org/userfiles/file/FloralStyles(11).pdf . Flower judging is as detailed an endeavor as floral arrangement with points awarded for design, artistic concept, expression and distinction: http://www.gcvirginia.org/userfiles/file/FlowerShowJudging(5).pdf 

For more information on the history of floral arrangements, see The Art of Floral Design by Norah Hunter and The Flower Arranging Expert by D. G. Hessayon.

Sarah Ostrye, 2014 InternArchives of American GardensSmithsonian Gardens

Who’s on First?

Smithsonian Collections - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 8:00am
Plays.  Musicians. Jugglers. Comedians. Entertainment has existed in every culture going back to the traveling bards and troubadours of old. These photographs give us a little peak into what entertainment looked like in Japan and Iran during the late 19th to the early 20th century.

Japan: Twelve Woman Ensemble.
Iran:  Arpee Album: Photograph of Musicians and Dancer [graphic]

Iran:  Arpee Album: Photograph of the Nakkara Khana [graphic]

Iran:  Photograph of Street Performers [graphic]

Tehran, Iran:  Royal Puppet Show [graphic]

Japan:  Women playing music and dancing.

Kyoto, Japan: Female musicians on stage with Japanese and American flags, likely at a musical presentation.

Lara Amrod, ArchivistFreer|Sackler Archives

Solomon G. Brown's Poetry

Smithsonian Collections - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 11:12am

Did you know Solomon G. Brown—the first African American employee of the Smithsonian Institution—was also a talented poet? The legacy of Solomon Brown is not generally known beyond the Smithsonian or the local community of Anacostia where he resided. However, during the 19thand early 20th centuries Brown was a man of stature with a public reputation in Washington, DC; Baltimore, MD; and Alexandria, VA. 

Memorial Verse: In Memory of Isaac Brown, 1894 by Solomon G. Brown, 06-030.4
Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution
In celebration of National Poetry Month the Anacostia Community Museum highlights Brown’s “Memorial Verse” from our archival collection. You can also assist with transcribing the verse by    visiting the Smithsonian Digital Volunteers: Transcription Center. You may also find interesting “Kind Regards of S. G.Brown”: Selected Poems of Solomon G. Browncompiled by Louise Daniel Hutchinson and Gail Sylvia Lowe.

Jennifer Morris
Anacostia Community Museum Archives

Mountains: Climbing to the Top

Smithsonian Collections - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 8:00am
Mountains are a distinctive geographic feature that ripple throughout Asia.  They can be seen as backdrops to cities and at the center of epic adventures.
Kurdistan, Iraq: Kuh-e Owraman Mountain Range, View of Canyon of Aw-i Shirwan, [graphic]
Iran:  Encapment and Village in the Mountains [graphic]

Hakone, Japan: View of Lake Ashi and mountains circa 1860s.
North of Tehran, Iran: Man Seated on a Mountain Top in Shimiran [graphic]
Hakone, Japan:  View of Ojigoku on great boiling springs [1860 - ca. 1900]. [graphic]
I encountered the mountain below during some routine archives work (yes, even the exciting world of archivists can be dominated by routine!).  But this time, I was surprised to find this charming drawing while performing a physical check of the map cases in our archive. I was almost done in a bottom drawer when I found it, and upon closer inspection I recognized it as the signature of Sir Edmund Hilary— he and his Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay were the first men to reach the summit of Mt. Everest.

Sir Edmund Hillary autograph, November 16, 1998Hillary accepted an award at the Smithsonian in 1998, in honor of his ‘monumental explorations and humanitarian achievements.’ According to the item’s catalog record, this autograph drawing was made by Hillary during a press conference at the Freer Gallery on November 16.The signature is quite large it takes up an entire page, very much like mountains often do in photographs.

Lara Amrod, Archivist
Freer|Sackler Archives


Smithsonian Collections - Thu, 04/03/2014 - 8:00am
Louis E. Neuman & Co. cigar box label, ca. 1890? Tobacco Trade and Industry Series,
Warshaw Collection of Business American, Archives Center, National Museum of American History  
Among the many different types of pictorial paper items in the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana are cigar box labels.  The collection is rich in provocative imagery used to advertise many types of products.  Perhaps the most common form of advertisement in the collection is the "trade card," essentially an oversized business card with often lively and colorful illustrations.  Another familiar form is the cigar box label.  It might be argued that a label intended to be glued to a product or its container doesn't function exactly the way an advertisement--generally distinct and physically separate from the product--functions.  However, attractive labels can also induce the customer to make a purchase in order to possess both product and its beguiling advertisement.  Neophyte cigar smokers often selected their cigars on the basis of the personal appeal of the illustrations on the inside cover of the box.  Certainly one of the most "collectible" types of advertising ephemera is the cigar box label and its intriguing, distinctive, richly colored style.  Its heyday was the late 19th century to early 20th century, but 21st century cigar box labels often retain the old-fashioned style.  Since cigar consumers were almost exclusively men, the labels were designed to reinforce masculine stereotypes.  Attractive, exotic women often are the subjects of these colorful lithographs, as well as themes such as "cowboys and Indians."  Many of the latter portrayed Native Americans as "noble savages," while others emphasized their reputation as wild, fearsome warriors.  Consider the cultural implications of this particular design and the cigar brand, "Warpath."

David Haberstich
Curator of Photography
Archives Center, National Museum of American History

April is National Poetry Month

Smithsonian Collections - Tue, 04/01/2014 - 8:00am
Miami-Dade Public Library bookmobile, ca. 1976 / Lowell Nesbitt, photographer. Lowell Nesbitt papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Did you know that the month of April is dedicated to the art of poetry? Although my job centers on the visual arts, I thought I might bring together the visual and the literary and attempt a haiku about one of my favorite items from the Archives of American Art collections, this slide of a bookmobile decorated by the painter Lowell Nesbitt.

Artful bookmobileStirs this Librarian's heartServing books in style
Wishing you a poetical month,
Bettina Smith, Digital Projects LibrarianArchives of American Art

A Century of Cherry Blossom Watches

Smithsonian Collections - Thu, 03/27/2014 - 8:00am
Cherry blossoms along the Tidal Basin, circa 1920s. J. Horace McFarland, photographer. (AAG# DC001)
Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, J. Horace McFarland Collection The first day of spring has already come and gone, but spring in Washington, D.C., still feels like it has yet to arrive. We will know when winter’s grip has finally loosened when the cherry trees are blooming around the Tidal Basin. Many of these trees are over a century old. Originally planted between 1912 and 1920, the image above shows the cherry trees in all their glory roughly 80 or 90 years ago. It was likely photographed by J. Horace McFarland --or possibly someone employed by his company Mount Pleasant Press-- and is preserved in the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Gardens. McFarland was a horticulturist, educator, promoter of the City Beautiful movement and early advocate for the National Park Service. He also frequently used lantern slides like this one to illustrate his many lectures on civic improvement and city beautification projects.

Learn more about the history, care, and preservation of Washington's cherry trees on the National Park Service website: http://www.nps.gov/cherry/cherry-trees.htm

Browse more digitized photographs from the J. Horace McFarland Collection on Pinterest.

Kelly Crawford
Museum Specialist
Archives of American Gardens

Spring Quilts

Smithsonian Collections - Tue, 03/25/2014 - 8:00am
Though the weather here in D.C. may disagree, according to the calendar springtime is here! For some, that may mean cleaning out your closets, boxing up your sweaters and folding up your winter comforters to make room for your spring quilts. Quilting has a long and storied tradition among Native American women where quilts can often hold both cultural and ceremonial significance. NMAI has an important collection of beautiful quilts, made even more comprehensive after the 2007 acquisition of Plains quilts collected by Florence Pulford. Pulford collected quilts for more than twenty years, working with Native quilt artists living in Fort Belknap and Fort Peck and on other Montana and North Dakota reservations. In addition to purchasing quilts directly from the artists, Pulford often snapped pictures and recorded audio interviews about life on the reservation which are now a part of the Florence Pulford collection.  Many of the photos and audio recordings in this collection highlight the work of particular quilt-makers and their processes, including Ella First Kill Brown (A'aninin),  Frances Weasel Woman Fox (A'aninin), Artie Crazy Bull (Sioux), Almira Buffalo Bone Jackson (Assiniboine) and Regina Brave Bull (Yanktonnai Nakota/Dakota).

“Sunny Spring Day” by Almira Buffalo Bone Jackson, Assiniboine (Stoney). National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution (26/6319). Photo by NMAI Photo Services.
“Spring Green Star” by Almira Buffalo Bone Jackson, Assiniboine (Stoney). National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution (26/6337). Photo by NMAI Photo Services.
A member of the Red Bottom band of the Fort Peck Assiniboine, Almira Buffalo Bone Jackson created both quilts featured above. Jackson was not only a prolific quilter but a well-respected artist among her peers. The long lasting friendship between Jackson and Pulford is well documented in the Florence Pulford collection through both photographs and oral interviews captured on audio-cassette. Almira and Florence kept up a strong correspondence up until Florence's death in 1989 at the age of 65.

Theodore (Teddy) Jackson, Florence Pulford and Almira Buffalo Bone Jackson, 1977. Florence Pulford Collection, Folder 44. National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution (P36323).For more information on this spectacular quilt collection you can read this article published in Smithsonian Magazine. For more information on the Florence Pulford collection of photographs and audio recordings you should contact the NMAI Archive Center. Happy spring!

Rachel Menyuk
Archives Technician, NMAI Archive Center

Singing the Past: Gullah Heritage & the Georgia Sea Island Singers

Smithsonian Collections - Fri, 03/21/2014 - 8:30am
There are endless things to say--or sing--about the ways in which music unites us. Throughout history, people have raised their voices in choruses of faith, of protest, of hope and joy. One power of music, among many, is the ability to compress time between generations, to echo the words and voices of ancestors separated from us by so many years. For the unique culture of the Gullah people, folk traditions of music, storytelling, games, and dance form very real connections between the past and present. Exploring the legacy of the Georgia Sea Island Singers helps illuminate the powerful and little-told history of Gullah heritage, and the power of song. This post contains images of the Bessie Jones and the Georgia Sea Island Singers, captured by photographer Diana Davies, whose extensive documentation of folk performers, festivals, civil rights marches, and more is housed in the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections.

The Georgia Sea Island Singers performing at the Poor People's March, Washington, D.C., 1968. Diana Davies Photograph Collection, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and CollectionsIn the mid-18th century, thousands of acres of plantation land in coastal South Carolina and Georgia and on the neighboring Sea Islands were being developed primarily for rice production. As a result, there was a boom in popularity for slaves from the Windward Coast of West Africa, or “The Rice Coast,” imported for their knowledge of rice cultivation and irrigation techniques. Many scholars believe Gullah derives from “Angola” where many of these people originated. High prices were paid for people from these Western regions, and, as a result of the their skillful agricultural practices, white planters enjoyed immense profit and success.

Because of diseases carried by mosquitoes in the subtropical climate of the region, many plantation owners avoided the islands and lowcountry during much of the year, leaving African overseers in charge. Through the years to come, the isolation of these rice-growing ethnic groups, who re-created and blended their native African cultures, traditions, and community life, led to the formation of the unique Gullah identity. “Gullah” was originally used to designate the spoken language of Gullah people (also referred to as “Geechee” by some scholars) but its meaning has evolved to refer to the Gullah’s creole language and distinct ethnic identity. In addition to the unique situation of having little contact with whites, the Gullah people were able to strongly preserve many African cultural traditions because of a constant influx of African slaves from the same Windward region--which helped renew and numerically strengthen their community on the islands.

Georgia Sea Island Singers Bessie Jones and Leola Polite Harris, on St. Simon's Island, 1966. Diana Davies Photograph Collection, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archive and Collections.
After the Civil War, much of the land in the Sea Islands was turned over to former slaves who remained there and made livings through farming and fishing. The geographic isolation of the Gullah people, and the microcosm formed by their unique situation, created a community in the United States in which African cultural heritage has arguably remained the least changed.

Bessie Jones at home on St. Simon’s Island, Georgia, 1966.
Diana Davies Photograph Collection,
Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archive and Collections.During the early 1900s, Lydia Parrish--wife of artist Maxfield Parrish--began documenting folklife on St. Simon’s Island, where she was living at the time. She collected traditional songs, recorded memories of slave descendants, and helped with the formation of the Spiritual Singers of Georgia, which included member Bessie Jones (who would later lead the Georgia Sea Island Singers).

In addition to Parrish’s documentation, which was published in 1942 as The Slave Songs of the Georgia Sea Islands, extensive fieldwork was conducted by folklorist Alan Lomax, beginning in 1935 when he first visited the island with writer and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston, and continuing through the late 1950s. Lomax made many recordings of the Spiritual Singers, and was told by Jones of her desire to “teach the chillun,” as she shared with him a wish to present Gullah culture more publicly. With Lomax’s help, Jones worked to solicit bookings for the singing group which, by this time, had been renamed the Georgia Sea Island Singers. With Jones as the song leader, the group was also comprised of Big John Davis, Peter Davis, Henry Morrison, Emma Ramsay and Mable Hillary. See footage of the Singers (located in the Human Studies Film Archives) from a 1964 performance in California.
Bessie Jones at the 1966 Newport Folk Festival. Diana Davies Photograph Collection
Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archive and Collections.A loyal commitment to authenticity echoed within the group, and continued even through years of changing members. This dedication to and internal reminder of the power of a focused, collective voice aided the Singers in teaching and performing the slave songs, dances, games, and shouts of their ancestors with people around the world, engaging with audiences in an interactive way that demonstrated the engaging quality of the traditions. Throughout the years, the Singers performed at such events as the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, the Inauguration of President Jimmy Carter, the Poor People's March in Washington (where they acted as staff culture-workers), and the 1967 Festival of American Folklife. In addition, Bessie Jones appeared individually on Pete Seeger’s television show The Rainbow Quest, in 1966, and received a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1982—the same year she died of complications from leukemia, at the age of 82. Here are two songs from Jones’ 1962 performance at the University of California, Berkeley Folk Festival.

The legacy of the Georgia Sea Island Singers has continued into the present. Currently, the group is comprised of members of the Quimby family (read more here) who are keeping the rich Gullah tradition alive, performing every year for global audiences. Through their performances, the singers continue to offer insight into the history of their traditions and to emphasize the power of remembering a rich and vast legacy. Frankie Quimby, who was born and raised on the Sea Islands, has said: “I’m a firm believer that you can’t know where you’re going until you realize where you’ve come from. We have dedicated our lives to trying to preserve that rich heritage and culture that our ancestors handed down to us.” The Georgia Sea Island Singers, with their Gullah heritage, are a striking example of the resilience of human creativity and spirit. They demonstrate a powerful community dedicated to the living preservation of its history, and we are reminded to shout and stamp and clap--echoing voices of the past and celebrating a freedom to sing.

The Georgia Sea Island Singers performing at the Poor People's March, Washington, D.C., 1968. Diana Davies Photograph Collection, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archive and Collections.

To hear more from the Georgia Sea Island Singers, check out this Folkways recording:Lest We Forget, Vol. 3: Sing For Freedom

Elizabeth Lalley, InternRalph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections 

Comparing Observations: Vernon and Florence Merriam Bailey

Smithsonian Collections - Wed, 03/19/2014 - 11:57am
One of the benefits of the Field Book Project’s efforts to catalog Smithsonian field books has been to enable researchers to reconnect field book content to related natural history documentation (e.g. specimens and related publications). Cataloging field books enables researchers to connect information in the field books with the specimens they document, since not all information recorded by a collector is transferred to the specimen tag.  There is another important reconnection possible through cataloging.  Cataloging field books enables a researcher to compare different collectors’ field entries for the same location. 
Observations from multiple collectors can provide a more complete picture of an environment.  The possibility of comparing natural history observations is particularly exciting when they are recorded on the same day. 

It is not uncommon for a scientist to mention in field entries that they were out collecting with a colleague.  However, I’ve rarely had the opportunity to read entries from two individuals for the same location and same day.  This is partly because catalogers have limited time with each field book, and because many of the collectors we catalog worked with colleagues from other institutions.  Related field books are often housed at other institutions across the country. 

I came across two collectors with connections to the Smithsonian whom I hoped might turn out to be a strong example of this possible overlap—Vernon and Florence Bailey.  I have been fascinated by this married couple since I first learned about them.  Vernon Bailey was an important figure in the formation of the US Biological Survey along with C. Hart Merriam who headed the Survey and was Vernon’s mentor.  Vernon Bailey’s field work was critical to the development and success of the Survey; he collected well, widely, and for more than 50 years. 

Florence Bailey was a remarkable figure in her own right.  She was an avid naturalist, writing several important texts on birds, conducting her own field work during a time few women were going into the field.  Even more amazing, she and her husband co-wrote several scientific publications.

I knew these two had conducted field work together but, to my great regret, their field books are housed on opposite sides of the country.  Vernon Bailey’s field books are primarily housed at the Smithsonian Institution.  Florence Bailey’s are chiefly found at University of California, Berkeley.  My quest for his and hers seemed to stall.  Smithsonian Institution Archives does have a small collection of Florence Bailey’s field books for 1907, but I found no Vernon Bailey field books for the same period.  That is, until recently, when I cataloged Vernon Bailey field books for the National Museum of Natural History’s Division of Mammals.  Lo and behold, I had possible candidates for related field book entries.

It turns out we have field books from a trip the couple took to California in 1907.  The trip was not exactly the example I was expecting. The couple traveled to the western United States together for several months.  During the trip, Vernon Bailey went on several short trips for the Survey and Florence would travel alone, sometimes going out and recording her own wildlife observations.  They would reunite at various locations as they travel to northwest United States. 

This series of separations and reunions, along with their differing styles of field book recording, made it surprisingly difficult to compare.  Vernon Bailey consistently dates his entries, but will include little description on days when he is traveling.  Florence Bailey writes very detailed entries for all aspects of the trip (field observations and time between stops).  Her entries are often several pages, but they do not appear to be consistently dated.  Additionally, there are gaps in the dated entries in both Florence and Vernon Bailey’s journals.

Examples of Florence and Vernon Bailey’s field observations

Example of Florence Bailey’s field notes. Portion of May 30 [year unknown]
entry from Florence Bailey’s field book, “Journal - California, undated.
Smithsonian Institution Archive. SIA RU007417, Box 1.

Example of Vernon Bailey’s field notes. May 30 1907 entry of Vernon Bailey field book,
Bailey, V. O., Arizona, California, New Mexico, May 1907 - August 1907.”
SIA Acc. 12-443, box “Bailey, V. O., 1902 – 1907.”
Courtesy of Division of Mammals, National Museum of Natural History.

Example of Vernon Bailey’s specimen lists.  May 30 1907 entry from
Vernon Bailey field book, “Field notes, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, May 27-July 21, 1907.”
Smithsonian Institution Archive. SIA RU007267, Box 2 Folder 7.
I feared I would be unable to find the example I sought despite having rich content. However, I found two entries documenting a day they traveled together. 

October 29, 1907 entry from “Bailey, V. O., California, North Dakota, September 1907 - December 1907”
by Vernon Bailey.  Division of Mammals, National Museum of Natural History.
SIA Acc. 12-443, box “Bailey, V. O., 1902 – 1907.”

October 29, 1907 entry from “Journal, California, 1907” by Florence Merriam Bailey.
Smithsonian Institution Archives.  RU 007417, Box 1. Vernon Bailey’s entry:

Oct. 29 [1907] Drove West for Fernando about 3 miles, then south across valley to Santa Monica mtns. And up a canyon nearly to the summit of range.  Got back at dark and wrote up report in evening.
Florence Merriam Bailey’s entry:

Oct. 29th [1907] Took a horse and cross the valley to the Santa Monicas.  The low flat park of the Plains are in wheat and we met numbers of 8 horse freight wagons hauling bags of wheat to a corral where it was stacked in tiers rods long—3 freight cars on track were loaded with it.  In places there were enormous barns and big corrals and [?] houses and implements, gang plows, and threshers etc. Enormous tracts of baled hay going to waste. Falling apart. More seen and fields already plowed [?] yellow with clumps of sunflower is poor work.  V [Vernon] suggested that the sunflower or the straw left after heading could be compressed for fuel.  In a country where old oranges and peach pits are burned.Though not quite the classic field note observations I originally sought, these related entries are complimentary, much like the journals themselves.  Vernon Bailey’s entries are terse, often for days when Florence’s entries are expansive.  The journals together provide a more complete picture of what the couple observed during their travels.   Additionally, Florence’s entry provides information about Vernon’s observations and comments on his surroundings along with her own impressions.

The ability to compare field book entries, specimen data, and other natural history documentation means that researchers can develop a more complete understanding of the biodiversity of a region not just at present but over an extended period of time.  This example sheds a little light on the possibilities of what scholars can find by comparing field entries of collectors even for days during which collecting is not done.  At this point, Vernon and Florence Bailey’s entries for their official co-fieldwork still reside on opposite coasts. 

Departments across the Smithsonian (National Museum of Natural History and Smithsonian Institution Archives included) continue to work to make these types of materials easier to locate and study.  One way they are making the collections more accessible: via the Smithsonian Transcription Center. By making digitized field books available for volunteers to transcribe, the Smithsonian is opening its collections and finding more of the untold stories they contain. Join other volunteers and view Florence and Vernon Bailey’s field observations in the Transcription Center to help enrich these materials. The Field Book Project is pleased to be a part of the Institution’s continuing efforts increase accessibility to its collections.

- Lesley Parilla, Cataloger and Social Media Coordinator, The Field Book Project

Amateur Naturalists in the Netherlands Documenting Coastal Biology in "Het Zeepaard"

Smithsonian Collections - Thu, 03/13/2014 - 8:00am
Changing cover designs for Het Zeepaard from 1947-1990In 1941, as World War II raged across the European continent,  a group of devoted young researchers started a new journal on the coastal biology of the Netherlands called Het Zeepaard (The Sea Horse). Calling themselves the Strandgroep (beach group) of the Nederlandse Jeugdbond voor Natuurstudie (Dutch Youth Association for Nature, or the NJN), the publication team had to cope with wartime shortages of paper and restrictions on public access to the beaches during the German occupation of the Netherlands. The earliest issues of Het Zeepaard were rather crudely produced from stencils using mimeograph machines, with tight columns of text crammed on a few pages, and illustrated with whimsically appealing line drawings of flora and fauna found in tide pools and marshes. In the decades following World War II, Het Zeepaard became a more professionally-produced publication, with several changes in typography, format, and cover design.

The articles in Het Zeepaard serve as a sort of collective field notebook, sharing scientific observations on topics like the distinguishing characteristics of dolphins and porpoises, and advising on the proper method for noting sightings on index cards. Strandgroep  members recorded the natural phenomena they saw while strolling along the coastline individually or taking part in group expeditions, including organized day trips on the North Sea in fishing boats.

Although the details contained in Het Zeepaard might seem to be of limited interest because of the passage of time and their very localized nature, the publication is notable for its close examination of a changing coastal environment and for illustrating how the mostly amateur scientists collaborated in documenting the phenomena they saw. In some ways, Het Zeepaard could be considered a forerunner of today’s more-broadly focused citizen science projects like iNaturalist.org where everyone is invited to submit their observations of the natural world.

Illustration of trawling for sea creatures from a 1941 issue of Het Zeepaard
The Smithsonian Libraries’ copy of Het Zeepaard was acquired in 1992 by C.W. “Bill” Hart, a staff member of the National Museum of Natural History’s Division of Crustacea, through L.B. Holthuis, a colleague in the Netherlands’ Nationaal Natuurhistorisch Museum in Leiden who got the publication from a widow of one of the founding editors. Since this copy of Het Zeepaard is nearly a complete run, including its fragile early issues, and access to the original printed edition is quite scarce (other copies are in the American Museum of Natural History and a few primarily European libraries), the set has been added to the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History. To the lasting credit of Het Zeepaard’s “young, enthusiastic amateurs” (as Holthuis called them), their carefully-recorded observations will be preserved for consultation by generations of zoologists and other scientists interested in environmental changes over time in the coastal habitat of the North Sea region.

Het Zeepaard. [Netherlands: Strandgroep, 1941-]. Call number qQH159 .Z44 SCNHRB Cullman Library

--Diane Shaw, Special Collections Cataloger, Smithsonian Libraries

Collections Connections: Past and Future

Smithsonian Collections - Tue, 03/11/2014 - 8:00am
"A museum has to renew its collection to be alive, but that does not mean we give on important old works." - David Rockefeller

I have surely come to understand this concept during my internship with the Anacostia Community Museum (ACM).  As a research intern, I have seen first hand the importance of older archival collections to serve as stepping-stones for building contemporary collections. The exhibition and research records of ACM’s 1994 show Black Mosaic: Community, Race, and Ethnicity Among Black Immigrants in Washington, D.C. is a collection that centers on perceptions of identity, construction of community, and the lived experiences of Black immigrants in the DC area.  Decades later, Black Mosaic is providing insight for Bridging the Americas, an Anacostia exhibition in process that highlights historical and contemporary Panamanian experiences in the DC area. The new show, opening in 2014 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Panama Canal, draws in part on the stories from Panamanian participants in Black Mosaic. While researching, I often felt like I was transported to another time period. Time warping provided me with the historical context I needed to find similar themes and make relevant connections. 

Participants carry the Panamanian flag during a Latino Festival in Washington, DC on July 28, 1991. Black Mosaic Research Project (S000044), Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Harold Dorwin photographer.My internship has been a hands-on education experience. I have engaged with material for Bridging the Americas through many different avenues. This includes: looking through vertical files in the DC public library’s Washingtoniana Room, reading digitized news articles from well over a century ago, looking through collections in the Anacostia Community Museum Archives, searching census data, looking at pictures in the Wetmore Papers in the Smithsonian Institution Archives, or conducting an interview with research participants.  I’ve engaged with the material in ways I could not have imagined prior to receiving an internship at the Smithsonian.

The interview is my most memorable form of engagement. I had the privilege to conduct an oral history interview with two DC residents, a mother and a daughter, regarding their experiences growing up, the role of language, expressions of identity, understandings of community, and their lived experiences as Panamanian women. Though very nervous, I gained insight about aspects of Panama and DC I was initially unfamiliar with. It was wonderful to see the mother-daughter dynamic at play as their unique narratives weaved together to form an intriguing story. They even brought a Trinidadian passport from the early 20th century to show their family’s migration to Panama. It brings me great satisfaction to learn how the work at ACM helps link past and present museum collections.
Panamanian Independence Day party, November 03, 2013. Susana Raab, Anacostia Community Museum photographer. Every moment has been worthwhile--If only you could see the countless times I've scribbled in my notebook, “I love this” or “This is so cool.” I am very grateful for my experience and every person I've met along the way. Museums and exhibitions tell stories; the narratives of people, objects, and events.  One day distant from now, the Bridging the Americas exhibition records will be a collection of the past, but as Rockefeller infers, we should not forget its importance. I surely won’t!

Danielle Moore
Latino Studies Curatorial Intern, Winter 2014
Anacostia Community Museum  

Celebrity Endorsements: Commerce, Credibility, and Cataloguing

Smithsonian Collections - Fri, 03/07/2014 - 11:00am
One of the mixed joys of being the SIRIS cataloguing coordinator/editor for the NMAH Archives Center is the “opportunity” to correct and enhance old records, many of them entered by interns and volunteers in connection with scanning projects.  It isn’t easy to distinguish a preliminary catalog record intended for later enhancement from a simply incomplete, incorrect, or misleading description.  In the case of images, whether photographic or hand-rendered, and photomechanical reproductions from such originals, one fundamental issue for me is the need for a description of both the image being scanned and the object on which the image resides.  This might mean simply indicating the support fort a photograph (e.g., paper, glass, film), or it might require a description or name for an object upon or in which an image has been painted, printed, or otherwise applied.  Sometimes I discover that someone scanned and catalogued an image from a calendar or book without naming the object containing the image.  Some attempt should be made to describe the object containing the image, not merely the pictorial image.  To me, this is a more fundamental step than searching for Library of Congress authority terms for tagging.  I think an accurate, concise MARC 245 field is a thing of beauty!

Point-of-purchase display card for Pears' Soap, with portrait of actress Mary Anderson, 1885.
Soap series, Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Archives Center, NMAH
Recently I encountered an intriguing SIRIS record for a soap advertisement in the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana.  Warshaw soap ads were scanned some years ago in connection with our Ivory Soap Collection of soap advertising.  These collections include advertisements for other soap brands for comparison, including the nineteenth-century Pears’ Soap.  The advertisements take a variety of forms, although the majority were printed in magazines, so the artifact may be a tear sheet.  Some items, however, are trade cards and advertisements intended for display in stores, so they may consist of card stock or other sturdy stuff, rather than flimsy magazine pages.  The Ivory Soap Collection and the soap advertisements in the Warshaw Collection can tell us not only how soap and cosmetic products were advertised in mass-distribution print media, but they also contain examples of how products were advertised inside stores to attract shoppers actively involved in decision-making about their purchases.  If an advertising card large enough to attract attention is placed with products near the establishment’s cash register, the Art and Architecture Thesaurus calls it a “point-of-purchase display,” and Library of Congress Subject Headings calls it an example of “Advertising, Point-of-sale.”  The concept, of course, is that an alluring display advertisement near the cash register (with or without the product itself, which merely needs to be accessible to the cashier) can encourage the customer to make an impulse purchase.  To be effective, point-of-purchase displays need to be timely, attractive, imaginative, clever, or some combination thereof, and customers must be made to feel that the product is desirable.  The display might be text only, or it might bear some sort of image.

One of the most effective types of advertising, as we know from contemporary media, is the use of celebrity endorsements.  The claim that a celebrity uses or recommends a product can attract and intrigue customers, especially loyal fans.  Even if a jaded public doesn’t believe the celebrity’s claim to use the product, a connection is established in potential customers’ brains, identifying a “star” with the product.  Such identification helps customers remember the product, which they might initially purchase simply out of amusement.  Embodied in the object shown here is the confluence of two strategems of advertising psychology—(a) attracting the customer’s attention at the cash register to purchase another item, and (b) appealing to endorsements by glamorous or influential celebrities to suggest that the product might help make the customer as attractive, wealthy, or influential as the celebrity.

It’s interesting that this particular celebrity endorsement served as a point-of-purchase advertisement, but the majority of such endorsements were created for various media, especially magazines and newspapers, then later radio and television—to attract customers into stores and markets.  Naturally, younger people may be totally unfamiliar with the names and faces of movie, radio, and television “stars” and celebrities from earlier generations, but how many ancient icons of popular culture can we reasonably expect them to remember?

When I finally edited the catalog record for this item, years had elapsed.  I looked at the image linked to the record, and it was clear that this reproduction of a painted portrait of a woman represented a specific famous person, and that this was an example of a celebrity endorsement of Pears’ soap (motto at lower left: “Pears Soap / The Very Best”).  I didn’t recognize the face, nor could I make out the name at the lower right, which appeared to be the signature of the subject, not the artist.  I didn’t need to look far for a transcription of the name.  It appears, along with other brief testimonials with signatures, on the verso of the card.  At the top of the list Mary Anderson is quoted as saying, “I find Pears Soap the very best,” followed by the same signature that appears on the image side of the card.  Ironically, the cataloguer knew the names Lillie Langtry and Henry Ward Beecher, whose testimonials appear under Ms. Anderson’s, and thought their names were worth entering into the record as MARC 600 fields for personal names as subject, but didn’t notice that the signature associated with Mary Anderson’s name matched the signature under the portrait.

I had no idea who Mary Anderson was.  I almost didn’t Google her on the assumption that “Mary Anderson” must be one of the most common names on the face of the earth.  On second thought, I tried, and a link for “Mary Anderson (actress, born 1859)” miraculously appeared on the first page of hits.  It led me to a Wikipedia entry, happily illustrated with the very profile portrait photograph from which I believe the advertisement portrait was painted.  She appears to be more delicately attractive in the photograph than in the painting.  She was a popular, celebrated stage actress who later appeared in silent films and who led a fascinating life that could inspire a book (she wrote two memoirs), a play, or a movie.  I never know what tangents “editing” SIRIS records may lead me on.  Perhaps I was too diverted by Mary Anderson’s life story, but at least her name now appears in the catalog record for retrieval.  I’m confident that someone will soon have a need for a portrait of her and will locate this image.
Many of the soap advertisements in our collections appeal to the public’s devotion to the cult of celebrity embodied by the “stars” whose beauty or charisma is so alluring.  At the same time, many of these ads include appeals to logic or common sense.  While Henry Ward Beecher’s statement, “I am willing to stand by every word in favor of it I ever uttered,” is amusingly pompous, Mary Anderson’s pronouncement of Pears’ Soap as “the very best” seems to carry weight: She is an actress, constantly in the limelight, who needs a soap that will not only cleanse her skin but will be kind to her complexion.  If a famous actress recommends a particular soap, women might well sit up and take notice.  After all, her livelihood depends partly on beauty products, and one would expect her to be discerning about soap—she must know what she’s talking about and her endorsement must be trustworthy.

Similarly, when a famous singer endorsed a particular brand of cigarettes decades later, the public might naturally assume that a vocalist would know not to abuse his or her throat and voice and accept the star’s presumably informed and tested choice.  If a crooner like Snooky Lanson could smoke Lucky Strike cigarettes (according to an ad in the Sandra and Gary Baden Collection of Celebrity Endorsements in Advertising), they must be gentle on the throat, right?  A professional singer wouldn’t risk a coughing fit on live television, would he?  (Lanson was a regular on the live show “Your Hit Parade” in the 1950s.)

The use of celebrity endorsements has waxed and waned over the years.  Some say Josiah Wedgwood was the first to use such an endorsement in the 1760s, by advertising his royal warrant, certifying that the British royal family was a regular customer of his ceramic products.  In the 21st century the phrase “by appointment to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II” is considered a benchmark of quality.  It functions as a celebrity endorsement, although one does not see photographs of Queen Elizabeth personally utilizing the product or proclaiming its virtues.  The message is far more subtle, but arguably more reliable.  The royal warrant signifies that the royal family actually purchases the product or hires the service, yet there is no appeal to exclusivity, no vulgar, direct comparison to competing products or services.  There is merely the proof of purchase which the phrase “by appointment to” elegantly signifies.  It means simply “we buy it, and you know how fussy we can be.”

Indeed, the personalized celebrity endorsements with which we are familiar sometimes leave a funny taste in our mouths.  We don’t always trust the movie, television, and recording stars and their endorsements, as we sometimes suspect that many of them will do anything for money and we don’t honestly believe their enthusiasm over the consumer products they hype—they’re actors, after all.  In the 21st century we’re too sophisticated to really believe in endorsements--aren’t we?  They’re just another form of entertainment, and stars’ names are associated with certain products just to raise visibility and name recognition, not necessarily to convince consumers of celebrities’ heartfelt enthusiasm and brand loyalty.  There currently seems to be a trend away from celebrity endorsements, as some authors suggest that they are not cost-effective, and businesses are jittery about star misbehavior as well, having found that sales sometimes plummet when their spokespersons become involved in scandals.

Nevertheless, I still fervently want to believe that the famous actress Mary Anderson actually used Pears’ Soap in the late nineteenth century and found it superior, and now her name has been reunited with her endorsement.  As you may know, Pears’ soap is still manufactured and is still distinctive.  It was the world’s first registered brand and is therefore the world’s oldest continuously existing brand.  According to Wikipedia, “Lillie Langtry’s famous ivory complexion brought her income as the first woman to endorse a commercial product, advertising Pears Soap.”  And Mary Anderson soon followed.

(No, I’m not endorsing Pears soap.  Never tried it.)

David Haberstich
Curator of Photography
Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Poised and Posed

Smithsonian Collections - Wed, 03/05/2014 - 12:52pm
American Art's photograph archives are not exclusive to images of artwork and gallery views. A quick keyword search will find images of artist studios as well as portraits of the artists themselves. Most are staged, or closely resembling a classic portrait, while others are more candid, offering a glimpse into the personalities of those who were usually more comfortable behind an easel than in front of a camera.
Inspired by school yearbooks, some of my favorite portraits from the Walter Rosenblum collection and the Peter A. Juley & Son collection. I’d love to get the story on whether it was the sitter or the photographer who decided on each pose...

Lucile BlanchYasuo KuniyoshiAri M. RoussimoffBetti RichardShinji IshikawaCharles WhiteGwen LuxJose de CreeftBianca Todd

Rachel Brooks | Photograph Archives | Smithsonian American Art Museum

Oscars in the Archives

Smithsonian Collections - Sun, 03/02/2014 - 8:00am
Ah, the Oscars. I love them. The host's opening musical montage, the crisp tuxes and clouds of chiffon on the red carpet, the long-winded thank you speeches (OK, maybe not that part so much). In honor of this celebration of all things film, I dug up some thespians who appear in starring roles in the collections of the Archives of American Art

Jeanne Eagels, ca. 1918 / unidentified photographer. Elizabeth Piutti-Barth papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.Star of the silver screen Jeanne Eagels got her start as a Ziegfield Follies girl, worked for several years as an actress on Broadway, and bridged the gap between silent film and the advent of the talkies, appearing in such films as The World and the Woman (1916), The Madonna of the Slums (1919) and The Letter (1929). Tragically, she died at the age of 39 in the same year that The Letter was released. She received the first ever posthumous nomination for an Academy Award for her work in that film, but lost out to Mary Pickford in Coquette. This photograph comes from the papers of Boston portraitist Elizabeth Piutti-Barth, who painted Eagels in two of her theatrical roles.

Caricature of Dick Van Dyke, between 1957 and 1968.
Alfred J. Frueh papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.There is no mistaking Dick Van Dyke's signature gawky charm in this caricature by Alfred Frueh, who frequently contributed caricatures of actors to the New Yorker. Though Van Dyke has filled his trophy case with several Emmys over the years for his work in television, the closest he ever came to an Oscar was when the Sherman Brothers won best original song in 1964 for the song Chim Chim Cher-ee, which he performed in Mary Poppins.

Lily Ludlow and Chloë Sevigny in costume, 2000 Nov. 30 / unidentified photographer.
Colin de Land collection, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.You may not recognize her immediately, but Chloë Sevigny is on the right of the two women in costume having their picture taken at a New York art scene Halloween party depicted in the Colin de Land collection. Sevigny's career has included a number of critically-acclaimed independent films, but it was her breakout role, in 1999's Boys Don't Cry, which garnered her a nomination for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, though the award went to Angelina Jolie for Girl, Interrupted.

For more Oscars-themed reads from around the Smithsonian, see:

Katherine Hepburn - Count 'em - Four Oscars and Designing Woman - Edith Head in Hollywood on the National Portrait Gallery Face to Face blog

Images of America - Chinese in Hollywood by Jenny Cho and the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California on the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center's BookDragon blog

Colin Firth: Actor. Writer. Academy Award Winner. Scientist? from Smithsonian Magazine

Bettina Smith, Digital Projects Librarian
Archives of American Art

That's A-Maze-ing: Mazes and Labyriths

Smithsonian Collections - Fri, 02/28/2014 - 8:00am
The Oxford English Dictionary defines a maze as “a structure designed as a puzzle, consisting of a complicated network of winding and interconnecting paths or passages.” While that sounds daunting as a garden feature, mazes can be as simple or as intricate as the gardener wants.

The first recorded hedge maze can be traced back to 13th century Belgium. In the late 16th century, Androuet du Cerceau, architect to Catherine de Medici and a leader in the French Renaissance, incorporated mazes into his architectural work. The oldest hedge maze that still exists today, dating back to 1690, can be found in Hampton Court in England.

Mazes can take on two forms: multicursal or unicursal. A multicursal maze has multiple ways to get to the center, while a unicursal maze has only one solution. There is also the labyrinth which is unicursal and very similar to a maze, but designed to be more about the experience of the passage or pilgramage rather than solving a puzzle. Labyrinths often have lower walls and can therefore be easier to construct. Labyrinths also differ from mazes in that their entrance is also their exit, while a maze can have different exits and entrances.
Mazes and labyrinths can be made of many different materials. These include hedges, maize, stones, vines grown on posts and fencing, turf, and various plants. Among the plants that can be used are Virginia creeper and honeysuckle.

Hedge maze at Tuckahoe Plantation, boyhood home of Thomas Jefferson, Richmond, Virginia, circa 1920s-1930s. Unknown photographer.Labryinth at the Kitty & Hacker Caldwell in Lockout Mountain, Tennessee, April 2008, Robert Busby, photographer.

Bella Wenum, Archives of American Gardens Intern, Summer 2013
Smithsonian Gardens

Cracking the Gullah Code

Smithsonian Collections - Wed, 02/26/2014 - 8:00am
If you’re a regular reader of the Collections Search Center blog then you know the Lorenzo Dow Turner papers have been the topic of several posts.  If not, here’s a refresher:  Dr. Turner, the first professionally trained African American linguistic, known as the “father of Gullah studies,” proved through scientific research that the Gullah dialect spoken by African Americans living on the coast of the Carolinas and Georgia was a Creole language, heavily influenced by the languages of their West African ancestors.   

Sea-Island Dialect of South Carolina, Lorenzo D. Turner papers, Anacostia CommunityMuseum Archives, gift of Lois Turner Williams [ACMA 06-017.1]
Turner interviewed and recorded over twenty Gullah informants for his research that would later inform his seminal book, Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect.  According to Margaret Wade-Lewis, Turner’s biographer, Professor Turner often made photocopies of his transcribed interviews with various Gullah speakers and provided them to his students as course “handouts.” “Sea-Island Dialect of South Carolina” is an example of Turner’s class materials and gives us a glimpse into his process for cracking the Gullah language code.

The Anacostia Community Museum needs your assistance in making the “Sea-Island Dialect of South Carolina” accessible and available to the public. Visit the Smithsonian Transcription Center and try your hand at transcribing Turner’s interviews!

Jennifer Morris
Anacostia Community Museum Archives

Every Dog Has its Sleigh

Smithsonian Collections - Fri, 02/21/2014 - 2:31pm
This weekend the XXII Olympic Winter Games will come to a close after much sliding, skating, skiing and snowboarding over snow and ice. Though there have been a few event staples since the 1924 Winter Games, including skating and ice hockey, there have been many sports that have been considered “demonstration sports” that were never permanently incorporated as Olympic events. These include skijoring and sled dog racing which both rely on the power and speed of sled dogs. Dog sled races were held as demonstration event for the first time in the 1932 Lake Placid Olympics and had entrants from both Canada and the United States.

Around the same time as the Lake Placid Winter Olympics, Dentist Leuman Waugh was travelling much further north through Labrador and Alaska under the auspices of Columbia University and the U.S. Public Health Service studying and treating the teeth of the Inuit, Innu, and other indigenous people of the Arctic. Between 1914 and 1937 Dr. Waugh made over a dozen trips to Northeastern Canada as well as five documented trips to Alaska during which he took meticulous notes and photographs (previous posts highlight many of Waugh's hand tinted lantern slides here and here). Waugh captured many aspects of arctic life including the use of dog sleds which has been a part of Innu, Inuit and arctic culture since long before the Winter Olympic Games made their debut.

Yup'ik man with a gaff sitting on an ice pile. Dog pack and sled in foreground, 1935. Leuman Waugh Collection.
National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution [L02236]

Sled dogs taking a break on a snowy expanse, Eastern Arctic, Kaipokok Bay, circa 1920. Leuman Waugh Collection. National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution. [L01854] In addition to capturing images of dog sleds, there is also this wonderful lantern slide of a caribou-sled!

Inipiaq (Alaskan Inupiat Eskimo) man on sled being led by caribou on ice, Wainwright, Alaska circa 1930. Leuman Waugh Collection. National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution. [L02177]

Just as an added bonus:

Inupiaq (Alaskan Inupiat Eskimo) community, Kivalina; NANA Native Corporation, Alaska, circa 1930. Leuman Waugh Collection. National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution. [P30340]

Yup’ik [Norton Sound] community, Saint Michael Island, Alaska, circa 1930. Leuman Waugh Collection.
National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution. [P30082]

Rachel Menyuk, Archives Technician
National Museum of the American Indian, Archive Center


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