The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Does the jovial fellow riding Ambika the elephant look familiar? It's Fred Rogers, leaving his neighborhood for a visit to the National Zoological Park in the spring of 1982. The host of the children's show Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood met giraffes, tigers, and lions as well as pachyderms Ambika and Shanthi; Keepers Jim Jones and Barbara Bingham were featured guests.
Despite rainy conditions, everything went smoothly until the elephant ride. According to The Torch:
As soon as Mr. Rogers was perched atop Ambika's back, she decided she wanted a bath and lumbered eagerly towards the pool. While zoo keepers headed her off, "little" (4,000 pound) Shanthi's curiousity was piqued by the cameraman and his fascinating equipment. As she set off to investigate, our fleet-of-foot staffers quickly foiled a farcical finale.
The episode filmed at the zoo was titled Mr. Rogers Talks About Pets, broadcast on June 4, 1982. You can a find a synopsis at The Neighborhood Archive.
Shanthi and Ambika still live at the National Zoological Park, enjoying their new home, the Elephant Trails exhibit. Now Shanthi is up to 9,000 pounds!
- Record Unit 371 - Office of Public Affairs, The Torch, 1955-1960, 1965-1988, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- On Thursday, the Founders Online project was launched. The website/online tool brings together the papers of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. [via InfoDocket]
- At the Bodleian Library staff can call upon a boxed collection of "dated and datable pins" (and paperclips) collected over the years to help identify the date of manuscripts, a veritable "prickly taxonomy." [via Heather Ewing, SIA]
- The ephemeral quality of digital artwork is put to the test, after the artwork, The World's First Collaborative Sentence by Douglas Davis needed to be restored. [via Carl Schaefer, SIA]
- In the third part of a series on preserving family history, Bertram Lyons, an archivist at the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress, answers questions about manuscripts, video, and other issues. [via The New York Times]
- Before Facebook, there was MySpace; before MySpace there was Friendster; but before all of these were a myriad of online communites that included Usenet, CompuServe, and bulletin board systems among others, that connected people. [via The Signal: Digital Preservation, LOC]
- Musical traditions are an integral park of people's cultural history, but in some instances are in danger of being forgotten by newer generations. The Carolina Chocolate Drops are one example of a group that is keeping the sound and tradition of Southern black music from the 1920s and 1930s alive. [via O Say Can You See?, NMAH]
Summertime in Washington, DC usually brings a few things to mind for me: the United States Department of Agriculture farmer's market, tourists, buses, Jazz in the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. First started in 1967, this year's festival focuses on the following:
- Hungarian Heritage: Roots to Revival
- One World, Many Voices: Endangered Languages and Cultural Heritage
- The Will to Adorn: African American Diversity, Style, and Identity
Running from June 24-26 and July 3-7, the schedule of activities, programs, and performances is incredible. So if you'll be in Washington, DC during this time or live nearby, please come out to learn from and experience the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.
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