The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Posts tagged with: Archive
- Museum problems - The American Museum of Natural History is working on getting a 122-feet-long skeletal cast of a newly discovered species of Titanosaurus into a new permanent exhibit space. [via Wired]
- The DC Public Library needs your help in creating its go-go archives! [via Washington Post]
- Looking towards the future - What lies ahead for Smithsonian Libraries. [via Unbound blog, SIL]
- October begins next week and that means it is American Archives Month! On October 1, archives across the country will be answering your questons via Twitter using #AskAnArchivist. Here's a look at the folks who'll be answering questions at the Getty Research Institute. [via The Getty Iris]
- New resources available: Columbia University launched a multimedia glossary for studying cinema and filmmaking and University of Utah's Marriott Library and the Oxford University Press created a new digital archive examining suicide. [via OpenCulture and InfoDocket]
- Taking it inside, the Smithsonian Gardens has created some plant vignettes in the Ripley Center. [Smithsonian Gardens blog]
- Coming up this weekend the National Museum of American History is hosting an Innovation Festival. [via SI Newsdesk]
- Check out the video below on the David Rumsey Map Center at Stanford Libraries where the collection of Rumsey is fused with innovative geospatial technique and visualization technologies. [via InfoDocket]
Whenever possible, Science Service director Watson Davis took advantage of his presence at a confluence of scientists to snap photographs of famous (and interesting) people. In 1931, at a meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (BAAS), he posed together four men who were interested, from different perspectives, in the origin and evolution of the universe.
Abbé Georges Henri Joseph Édouard Lemaître (1894-1966), professor of physics at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, was credited with first proposing the theory of an expanding universe, often called the "Big Bang" theory.
British physicist Oliver Joseph Lodge (1851-1940) was known for his interest in spiritualism as well as for his accomplishments in the development of wireless telegraphy. In 1921, as E. E. Slosson was searching for writers for the fledging Science Service operation, he had written to Lodge and the physicist had responded with characteristic aplomb that he could "see no good reason why I should not write articles for you."
British astrophysicist Edward Arthur Milne (1896-1950) had been appointed to a professorship at Oxford in 1928 but his earlier work had been in mathematical astrophysics. By 1931, Milne was focusing on the "expanding universe" and cosmology.
Trained as a mathematician, Ernest William Barnes (1874-1953) was the Anglican Bishop of Birmingham. Barnes's liberal political views had attracted considerable controversy and he was now turning his interest to the intersection of science and religion.
The four men were among invited participants in a September 27, 1931, symposium discussing the evolution of the universe, a session that provoked considerable intellectual fireworks. Two prominent British physicists, Sir James Jeans and Sir Arthur Eddington, declared that not only was the universe expanding but it was doing so at a rate that indicated "its days were numbered." Robert A. Millikan, the California Institute of Technology physicist, disagreed ("From my viewpoint...the evidence that cosmic rays furnish for annihilation is not worth a whoop."). Sir Oliver Lodge and Bishop Barnes lobbed similar attacks on the Jeans-Eddington prediction. Barnes even added that he had "no doubt that there are many other inhabited worlds and that on some of them exist beings immeasurably beyond our mental level."
Sir Oliver Lodge had the last word in the published proceedings, closing with an astute observation. In 1931, he said, scientists were turning their attention "from the particles of matter to the spaces between them, where all the activity resides. We have thus, with Einstein, begun a new era ... but when we attend to space properly we shall find that life and mind are not limited to the surface of lumps of matter. Intelligence can be found throughout space."
- Published proceedings of BAAAS meeting in 1931, Biodiversity Heritage Library
- Science Service, Up Close blog post series, The Bigger Picture blog, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Science Service collections at the Smithsonian Institution Archives
The Archives is made up of wonderful, helpful, and hard working individuals who strive to acquire, preserve, and make accessible records that document the history of the Smithsonian Institution. Some of our staff have been at the Smithsonian for 30 plus years, while others are just beginning their tenure here. There will be some changes in the office as we welcome new staff members coming on board this summer and fall who bring their expertise and new ideas to the Archives.
Continuing our series on introducing new staff, I'd like to welcome our new Archives Technician for our Archives and Information Management Team, Patrick Milhoan.
What do you do?
I am currently an archives technician responsible for processing incoming collections and creating finding aids for user access.
Favorite spot in Washington, DC to recommend:
While not actually located in DC, one of my favorite spots in the area is Mount Vernon in Alexandria, Virginia. The grounds of the President's estate, as well as the spectacular views of the Potomac River, make for a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the District.
So far, my favorite items are the Mary Henry Diaries contained within Record Unit 7001. Mary Henry was the daughter of the first Secretary of the Smithsonian and these diaries offer an intriguing look into the many different aspects of Washington D.C. during the era of the Civil War, such as the Battle of Gettysburg and the assassination of President Lincoln.
Next up is Miguel Argueta, our new Finance and Administration Assistant.
What’s your educational background?
I have a BFA in Studio Arts from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Florida International University.
What do you do at SIA?
I’m the Finance and Administrative Assistant, I collaborate with our Finance Director to ensuring that we have an effective and efficient processes that allows our SIA team to perform at their optimal level.
What is the strangest/most interesting thing you have discovered at SIA so far?
The most interesting thing I have discovered is how much historical documentation we hold about the Smithsonian Institution itself.
What is the most unexpected thing you have learned about working here?
The most unexpected thing I have learned is the openness of the resources we provide to the public and to the researchers that come through SIA.
Favorite spot in DC to recommend to visitors?
As an admirer of art my I would recommend National Gallery of Art, they have an array of artwork and artists to discover.
- A wonderful graphic of the history of the National Mall using its museums, memorials, and significant events. [via Washington Post]
- This past week was #AskACurator day and the folks at the National Museum of American History shared some of their favorite questions they received. [O Say Can You See? blog, NMAH]
- As part of it celebration for Hispanic Heritage Month, the Library of Congress launched an online selection from its Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape. [via InfoDocket]
- Connections between Herman Melville and the Smithsonian's first Secretary, Joseph Henry, found! [via Unbound blog, Smithsonian Libraries]
- A look at the steps involved in putting on an Archives of American Art exhibition. [via Archives of American Art blog]
- The National Archives and Records Administration recently released new guidance for metadata requirements for transferring electronic records. [via InfoDocket]
- Congrats to the Biodiversity Heritage Library for making Wired's list of 103 Must-Follow Feeds in Science, Culture, Design, and More. [via Wired]
In the spring of 1992 the Smithsonian's "Internet Implementation Committee" was working to connect the Smithsonian to the Internet. Every organization on the Internet needs a domain name, which references a specific range of Internet Protocol (IP) numbers. What domain name should we use? What names were available? What name could we request? Several possible names were researched – we could spell out Smithsonian or we might use an abbreviation such as "SI", or "Smith". However, any other abbreviation seemed contrived, artificial, and unusable. “Smithsonian” would certainly work, but seemed too long and cumbersome. At that time the domain name choices were limited to the original six historic, or generic top level domains or gTLDs: ".com", “.edu”, “.gov”, ".mil", ".net", and ".org".
The Smithsonian clearly did not want to join the ".com" domain (Sports Illustrated already had the "si.com" domain name, and still has that name today). The “.net” (usually reserved for organization supporting network operations) and “.mil” (usually reserved for the U.S. military) domains seemed inappropriate; and the “.org” domain was usually reserved for other organizations, also inappropriate. The two most logical, available, and promising name options were presented to the Internet Policy Team: we could apply for either the “si.gov” or “si.edu” domain name.
The sense of the technical team was that it did not really matter which domain name was selected; any name would work exactly the same from a technical point of view. So it was, perhaps, more of a political consideration. The Smithsonian Institution is a trust instrumentality of the United States. Someone at the planning meeting said, "The Smithsonian is technically not part of the government-- can we be “si.edu”?, and that was how “si.edu” was selected.
The Smithsonian applied for and was awarded (on June 19, 1992) the Internet domain name “si.edu”, which became the Smithsonian's first identity on the Internet.
The physical Internet connection was made in July 1992. At that time Internet services were limited to: E-mail (SMTP), file transfer (FTP), and remote login (Telnet). The Smithsonian staff would use these services to access remote computer resources, such as library catalogues, and databases. These services predated the web and the first desktop PC web browser. Little did we know how the rapid growth of the World Wide Web and expanded Internet services would change everything! The official announcement of the Smithsonian’s Internet connection was made by John Moreci, Communications Manager, Office of Information Resource Management, “Smithsonian Connects to Internet”, September 28, 1992.
With the Internet infrastructure established, the Smithsonian website was launched on May 8, 1995, and the rest is history . . .
From that simple beginning with a single domain name, the Smithsonian has, like many large organizations, come to own many domains – nearly 400 as of this writing. Most are not in use and were registered to ensure Smithsonian control over the trademarked Smithsonian name. When the Smithsonian Institution ventured into more commercial endeavors, a “.com” domain -- Smithsonian.com (operated by Smithsonian Enterprises) – did in fact become appropriate. It is in use today, as are a number of other single-purpose domains (e.g., inventionatplay.org). Many of these domains exist for marketing and communications purposes; some are standalone websites, others are simply redirected to “si.edu” subdomain addresses (e.g., emammal.org redirects to emammal.si.edu).
One unanticipated and interesting benefit for the Smithsonian is that search engines like Google evaluate search results from “.edu” domains as originating from an authoritative source and therefor rank the search result higher than those from other domains.
Since the Smithsonian registered “si.edu”, the requirements to register an “.edu” domain have become more strictly focused on accredited educational institutions. According to Educause (the non-profit association responsible for overseeing “.edu”) "only U.S. postsecondary institutions that are institutionally accredited by an agency on the U.S. Department of Education's list of Nationally Recognized Accrediting Agencies" are granted new “.edu” domains.
Previously granted “.edu” domains (such as Smithsonian’s) are grandfathered-in under the newer policies.
- Report of the Internet Implementation Committee to Robert S. Hoffman, Assistant Secretary for Science, August 14, 1992, Smithsonian Institution Archives