The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Thanks to the dedicated (and speedy!) help of the Smithsonian Transcription Center transcribers, more than 40 photo albums put together by former Smithsonian Secretary Alexander Wetmore are now transcribed! The albums cover Wetmore’s extensive travel around the world: from across the United States, during his time with the US Department of Agriculture’s Biological Survey bureau, fresh out of college; to his yearly research trips to Panama during his long career with the Smithsonian.
Wetmore’s ornithology research spanned nearly his entire life, from his first published article at 13, to his book, The Birds of the Republic of Panama, published posthumously. These albums offer a unique insight into the career of a dedicated scientist—not just Wetmore’s tireless field work, but the friendships, adventures, and fun he had along the way.
Transcribing this material has helped unlock a number of new avenues of research. It has provided a key to determining where Wetmore—and a number of Smithsonian researchers and museum leaders who traveled alongside him—researched over a more than 50-year span. It has given us a chance to surface new questions and new information, including names of women scientists and artists who were involved in Wetmore’s field expeditions. It’s provided a lens into how the Smithsonian, and other leading scientific research institutions, conducted field work. These albums have also given us a look at Wetmore as a person—what he found funny or fascinating or unique about the world around him.
Thanks for helping us on this incredible journey, transcribers! In celebration, some of the Smithsonian Transcription Center’s biggest Alexander Wetmore fans have submitted some favorite images from their tireless work on the Wetmore albums—a greatest-hits set of photos from over 50 years of field work (plus a few new Alexander Wetmore field notes, live on the Smithsonian Transcription Center)! Enjoy!
Alexander Wetmore: Observing the Making of a Scientist, The Bigger Picture, Smithsonian Institution Archives
How Many Birds Have You Seen Today?, The Bigger Picture, Smithsonian Institution Archives
Thank you, Volunteers!, The Bigger Picture, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Striking Dorothea Lange photographs of WWII internment of Japanese. [via Open Culture]
- The Hirshhorn let artist Linn Meyers draw all over their walls, and the results are stunning. [via Smithsonian Magazine]
- A look at the preservation of WWI objectors' graffitti. [via The Guardian]
- Thinking about preserving your own archive? The Library of Congress has advice on where to start. [via The Signal]
- New from the Endangered Archives Programme: "From Invisible to Digital: Digitising Endangered Historical Documents in Brazil" [via Info Docket]
- Beware of lost hours: 80,000 free audio recordings streaming online at British Library! [via Open Culture]
On view at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History (NMAH) through September 2016 is “Science Under Glass,” which celebrates the craft, art, and use of laboratory glassware. The display and the accompanying online exhibition draw from the museum’s collection of more than 1,000 pieces of scientific glassware.
From beakers and test tubes to Erlenmeyer flasks, these beautiful, seemingly fragile objects are what cartoonists, novelists, and moviemakers have long used to signal that a fictional character is a scientist. Place a test tube in the hand of a white-coated actor and every audience member will recognize her occupation.
Glassware, however, serves a vital function in the laboratory, allowing researchers to heat a substance, cool a substance, see a substance, monitor a reaction. And through the centuries, expert glassblowers have been asked to create intricate tubes and containers for specialized functions.
So, enjoy this slide show of photographs of laboratory interiors from the Science Service photographic morgue, and then take a look at the NMAH online exhibition for help in identifying the different types of flasks, tubes, and beakers arrayed behind these bacteriologists, chemists, biologists, and inventors.
- 1 of 497
- next ›