The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Posts tagged with: American History
- The Cistern Chapel: a Victorian sewage system station turned museum, documenting London’s battle against the Great Stink of 1858. [via The Telegraph]
- Harvard Art Museums just released 32,000+ Bauhaus works online! They hold one of the first and largest collections related to this German school of art. [via Harvard Art Museums]
- A peek into the foodways exhibition at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. [via Washington Post]
- What’s the archival equivalent of the heart-eyes emoji? Tweet an emoji to this New York Public Library Twitter bot, and it will reply with a picture from the archive! [via techinical.ly]
- Japanese Pop-artist Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirrors” exhibit is going on tour, starting at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden this February. [via New York Times]
- Need a playlist for a weekend road trip? Try the NEA’s Art Works Podcast! [via National Endowment for the Arts]
- What’s your favorite National Park? Get the facts, test your National Park Service knowledge, plus some breathtaking images. [via Washington Post]
- A look at the National Portrait Gallery’s Portraits Alive! Program, where D.C. high school students lead interactive tours of the collection. [via NPR]
- Are you a Mulder or a Scully? Either way, you should find something of interest in these recently declassified CIA documents related to UFOs. [via Open Culture]
- Olympic coverage on the brain? Check out this mesmerizing 1960s synchronized swimming routine. [via Atlas Obscura]
- Reconstructing a former slave house in our National Museum of African American History and Culture. [via Atlantic]
- Cheating was common at the Olympics in ancient Greece. [via Smithsonian Magazine]
- Citizen science at its best: the app, iNaturalist, is actually helping scientists discover new species! [via NPR]
- Book-lovers rejoice! You may live longer. [via Guardian]
- Download 1000's of arcgis maps from National Geographic for free. [via Open Culture]
- 10,000+ Amiga video games you can play in a web browser emulator available on Internet Archive! [via TechCrunch]
- Newly de-classified Nixon and Ford Administration documents from the CIA will be released August 24th. [via Info Docket]
- Nitrate film show! [via Vice]
Like other news organizations, Science Service paid attention to national politics, especially if a candidate had some connection to the world of science and technology. In 1928, when U.S. Secretary of Commerce and mining engineer Herbert Clark Hoover (1874-1964) received the Republican Presidential nomination, someone else spoke on his behalf at the party convention in June. Hoover then artfully courted press coverage of his campaign by creating a sense of anticipation for his formal acceptance speech, to be delivered at his alma mater, Stanford University. He also arranged to reach beyond the local crowds to a larger national audience – via the new medium of radio.
A group of sixteen candid photographs in the Science Service files show Hoover and his wife Lou Henry Hoover (1874-1944) arriving at the Stanford Bowl in Palo Alto, California, on August 11, 1928. The photographer is not explicitly identified in the records but Science Service astronomy editor James Stokley, a skilled shutterbug, was in California that August. Because Stokley had the appropriate press credentials, it is most likely that he took these photos, only one of which was later published by Science Service.
At first glance, the images appear to show a typical 1920s campaign rally. The honored guests arrive in a flag-decked car. The candidate mounts an elaborate stand to deliver his address, and speaks into a microphone. American politics were cascading into a new era, however. Hoover was keenly aware of the promise and power of radio technology. At the 1922 Radio Conference, he had observed that the world was “upon the threshold of a new means of widespread communication of intelligence,” one with potentially “profound importance” for “public education and public welfare.” And Hoover had used radio effectively when he headed the 1927 Mississippi River flood relief effort. He knew that, with live radio coverage, the acceptance speech could be heard by potential voters around the country as well as by those in the stadium.
Until the 1920s, and the development of radio broadcasting, campaign appearances had been constrained by a candidate’s physical endurance and available time. Eager to entice the political parties to use (and buy time on) the air, both CBS and NBC created elaborate national hookups for Hoover’s speech and treated it like news. Palo Alto would be “the center of the radio universe,” declared The New York Times, because wire transmission would relay the program to over 90 stations or network hubs. Telegraph lines facilitated short-term communication, and (an arrangement used for the recent Tunney-Heeney boxing match) short-wave broadcasts would wing the speech around the globe. Radio, the Times astutely predicted, “may well assume the leading role” in conveying political messages to every part of the country.
The Stanford ceremony began at 3:30 p.m. Pacific Time (nicely timed for early evening listeners on the East Coast). Over 75,000 supporters crowded into the athletic stadium, and millions of others tuned in from kitchens, living rooms, political halls, and bars.
Hoover’s opponent, Governor Al Smith of New York, also listened in that night, observed by local reporters in the room. The Democrat nominee’s announcement on August 21 featured a similar hook-up of over 100 stations. And within weeks, the two political parties were buying time from broadcasters.
The photographs from the Science Service morgue files preserve a candid glimpse of a moment of historical change – when bands and cheering crowds became part of the standard come-on for achieving time on the air.
Herbert Hoover, The White House
The Hoover Story, Herbert Hoover Presidential Library
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