The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Posts tagged with: Archive
Recent discoveries about our Women in Science (WIS) demonstrate the ways our audiences are helping us add more stories to our collections.
As a part of our on-going Women in Science Wednesdays, Effie Kapsalis has highlighted the #groundbreaking efforts of women researchers, inventors, pilots, and professors. In the past months, we have featured “Mrs. Alfred Gibson,” Dora Jean Dougherty Strother (McKeown) and Fern P. Rathe. We have also extended our experiences in crowdsourcing, uncovering more about these women’s lives from our audiences - a seriously amazing outcome, indeed!
You may recall we’ve discussed our fantastic community contributions on Flickr. These efforts helped us identify portions of SIA collections, while refining our knowledge of Smithsonian history. Now, we are excited to turn the page of our collections stories and fill in more details of these Women in Science - with a crowdsourced introduction and more details about pioneering women and Wikipedia.
Introducing Mary Wallihan Gibson.
First, on August 28, we featured an UNKNOWN Woman in Science, “Mrs. Alfred E. Gibson.” We explained that we did not know the details of her name and life – and we asked for your help. By the end of the day, we had gathered information from you in our comments and in tweets with @Smithsonian – special thanks to Erin Ryan and Penny Richards for their sleuthing and deducing.
Mrs. Alfred E. Gibson is Mary Wallihan Gibson, who graduated from the University of Denver. After marrying Alfred E. Gibson in 1910, she settled in the Cleveland, Ohio area. Here she was an active member of Pi Beta Phi, organizing gatherings and sitting on committees. She helped organized and was the first president of the Cleveland Pan-Hellenic Association.
At the time of their 1938 win of the "grand award" from the Lincoln Arc Welding Foundation, Alfred and Mary were "president and stockholder, respectively" of the Wellman Engineering Company. Their prize was $13,941.33 for their paper on "Commercial Weldery." What an achievement – and now we can put a name to her success!
Working Women in Science into Wikipedia
We have continued work in increasing representation of these women and their achievements on Wikipedia. Here are more fascinating facts about three of our Women in Science:
Featured for Women in Science Wednesdays on August 21, Dora Jean Dougherty Strother is another masterful pilot, as well as a human factors engineer. She not only set records in helicopter flight and earned the first PhD in Aviation Science from New York University, she was also a B-29 Superfortress demonstration pilot. Prior to working with Bell Helicopter, Strother served with the Women AirForce Service Pilots (WASP) and registered command over 23 different aircraft. Furthermore, she and fellow WASP Dorothea Johnson Moorman learned to fly the cumbersome B29 bomber in 1944. The aircraft was a more robust version of the Enola Gay and was considered very dangerous, even catching fire midflight for Strother. Within a limited two-week demonstration period, Strother and Moorman proved the aircraft was safe and reliable for men to fly, then trained male pilots to fly it during World War II.
We also were able to nominate Dora Jean Dougherty Strother’s Wikipedia article for the Wikipedia main page section Did You Know? It was successfully featured on Monday, September 16, 2013. Based on that main page exposure, Strother’s Wikipedia article was viewed 3817 times in one day! Her story was also expanded through efforts of other Wikipedia editors.
Furthermore, we discovered that two of our WIS worked together at the University of Chicago in the department of Zoology! Marie Agnes Hinrichs ( August 7, 2013) was an Officer of Instruction as an Assistant, while Libbie Henrietta Hyman ( June 12, 2013) served as a Research Associate in Zoology in 1919. Hinrichs later went on to earn her doctorate and moved from Research Associate in Physiology (1931) at the University of Chicago to Associate Professor and Head of the Department in Physiology and Student Health at Southern Illinois University (1938).
A resounding "Thank You" to our readers for your help and enthusiasm. We look forward to sharing more of our collections stories with you and continuing to make discoveries together!
If you have more information to share about these women or other scientists we’ve featured, please let us know in the comments. You can also help SIA build and improve Wikipedia articles for these women and our wide-ranging collections.
- A video conversation 'Thank You" from Lesley Parilla and the Field Book Project for its Digital Volunteers who helped transcribe a field book on Honeycreepers by Martin Moynihan. [via Field Book Project blog, NMNH]
- In time for World AIDS day on December 1, a massive online archive of AIDS posters is now available. [via InfoDocket]
- This past week people around the country celebrated Thanksgiving with their friends and family. Find out how the holiday was celebrated from a soldier during the Civil War to those serving in the military away from home, as well look at the strangeness of the presidential turkey. [ via The Torch, SI; O Say Can You See?, NMAH; and Raw File, Wired]
- Europeana celebrated its 5th anniversary and the arrival of its 30 millionth cultural object, two years ahead of schedule! [via InfoDocket]
- In a remarkable coindicence, a new book of self-portraits by Vivian Maier comes out the same year that "selfie" was named the word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries. [via Colossal]
- Instant access! Check out the National Museum of American History's Founding Fragments - a new series of short videos that delves into the storage cabinets and drawers to find an interesting object that illuminates a small piece of the American story. [via O Say Can You See?, NMAH]
I would like to introduce you to: Design + Archives, a new monthly series that identifies interesting examples of design found here in the Archives collections. Materials will range in content from exhibition posters and brochures, to letterhead and architectural drawings. Examples of design, both good, bad, and mediocore, abound in the collections of the Archives. The Smithsonian must constantly communicate with its staff, visitors, and supporters, and in doing so must be able to efficiently and effectively convey information and concepts. This series will present without comment, samples of design that I've found visually interesting, while perusing the Archives collections. To start off the series I would like to present the invitation to opening of one of my favorite museums, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. I hope you enjoy the series!
What's in a word? It is hard to know without knowing what that word is. Here at the Archives we are surrounded by words. Words on documents, in field books, diaries and more; however, it is rare that we know what those words are. With a countless number of words, it seems an insurmountable feat to transcribe - that is, read documents and then keyboard them so that they can be searched and made available digitally - even a quarter of our collections to discover the great stories about history that lie within our holdings.
For instance, 150 years ago today, Mary Henry, daughter of first Smithsonian Secretary Joseph Henry, visited Washington, DC's Navy Yard. Upon reaching her destination, Mary saw an ironclad, a steam-propelled warship covered by iron or steel plates, resting in the water awaiting repairs. How do we know this? Mary, an avid diarist, detailed her excursion in an entry which was transcribed several years ago. She wrote, "She [the ironclad] is a flat boat only a few inches above the water with nothing to be seen upon her iron plated deck but a steam pipe a tall pipe for ventilation a few little holes here & there for the same purpose which are tightly closed however when the boat is at sea, and a round turret." Mary not only admired the ship from ashore, but climbed into the turret "through a small opening & saw her great guns. One of them is a monster the other some what [sic] smaller but large enough to make me shiver at the thought of the damage she might do." Mary's powerful words about the ironclad act as a microcosm for the profound impact historians have noted that these ships had on naval warfare during the Civil War. Without this transcription, an interesting note in Smithsonian history would be much more difficult to find.
With all these words and not enough time to transcribe how can we uncover these stories? Here is where you can come in. The Smithsonian's new Transcription Center has opened for business and needs volunteers to dive into our collections and help us discover new and interesting information about the Smithsonian, its history and its people. So please go check it out and help with transcribing so we can find out what is in our collections' words.
- Mary Henry Diary, 1858-1863 - Transcription Center, Smithsonian Institution
- Mary Henry: Eyewitness to the Civil War, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Record Unit 7001 - Joseph Henry Collection, 1796-1951, c. 1974, 1981-1983 - Series 18 contains Mary Henry’s Diaries, Smithsonian Institution Archives
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