The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Posts tagged with: Archives
- Smithsonian in London? - Just maybe as the Smithsonian's Board of Regents have agreed to proceed with negotiations to have an exhibition space in the redevelopment of the former Olympic Park in East London as part of a proposed new educational and cultural quarter in the city. [via The Torch, Smithsonian Institution]
- Privacy, responsibily and electronic records are in the news at the University of Oregon where 22,000 emails from the President's office were released. [via InfoDocket]
- A behind the scenes look on what it takes to put on the Smithsonian Gardens' orchid show at the National Museum of Natural History. [via Smithsonian Gardens blog]
- Here comes the boom - NASA has made available online a collection of space sounds. [via Open Culture]
- It takes a lot to put together an exhibition, here are five things Jennifer Levasseur learned while curating the exhibition, Outside the Spacecraft: 50 Years of Extra-Vehicular Activity, at the National Air and Space Museum. [via AirSpace blog, NASM]
- The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum has released an API to grant developers programmatic access to its collection. [via InfoDocket]
- With a little thing called the Super Bowl happening this weekend, here is the trailer for a film about the four photographers who have photographed every Super Bowl. [via PetaPixel]
There's no doubt that Washington, D.C. is a great place to raise kids. And one of the primary reasons why is the wide array of Smithsonian museums that are only a subway ride away. It's no wonder that regular visits to the National Mall have been an important part of our family's culture and history since the early 1970's. And part of that history has been the story of "how Uncle Maurice helped bring the elephant to the National Museum of Natural History."
So it was no surprise that our son, Jacob Harris, casually tweeted about the family story recently. The bigger surprise was the follow-up communications with Effie Kapsalis, and the rest of the Smithsonian Archives team. After a thorough search of the Smithsonian's Archives, Effie's team quickly uncovered a cache of communications from the Hungarian gentleman, Joseph J. Fénykövi, who actually hunted and killed the elephant in Angola, and the U.S. consulate employee who took possession of the skinned trophy and arranged for its transfer and transportation to the Smithsonian headquarters. What was missing from this trove of evidence was any mention of our eccentric uncle, Maurice Fogler, or any other evidence that might support the family legend. Effie and her colleagues were gentle but firm in suggesting that the only way our legend could be true is if Uncle Maurice were a friend with the Hungarian hunter or connected to the State Department. A call from Jake (Jacob) seeking further details of the elephant legend led to a thorough search of our family archives (actually just a cardboard box of genealogy files) and a phone call to Jake's 96-year-old grandmother (Maurice's sister) to uncover the 1994 transcript of an oral history interview with Uncle Maurice that confirmed the legend:
So the Hungarian and Angola connections provided the missing links between Uncle Maurice and the Smithsonian Fenykovi elephant and other parts of the oral history confirmed the State Department connection. Along the way, Effie and her team filled us in on some interesting new facts about the name of the elephant, its age, how it was stuffed, and a prior bullet wound in the elephant’s left knee. And the oral history uncovered some interesting facts about Uncle Maurice's stint as a bullfighter in training with the legendary bullfighter Manolete. Now when Jacob recounts the family legend to his kids, Alex and Miranda, on their visits to see the elephant he can add that the legend has been confirmed by additional evidence provided by he Smithsonian archivists. There’s no doubt that Washington, D.C. is a great place to raise grandkids.
- Record Unit 305 - United States National Museum, Office of the Registrar, Accession Records, 1834-1958, Smithsonian Institution Archives.
- A find for early animation - Archivists at Norway's National Library discovered a missing animation film, Empty Socks, about Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, a Disney precursor to Mickey Mouse. [via The National Library of Norway]
- A fascinating look at the workshop of Kenji Yamaguchi, a National Geographic employee who builds camera contraptions for their photographers. [via Proof, National Geographic]
- See 1950s America at its best in a newly released Kodachrome home movie from the Prelinger Archives of Beany's Drive-In, Long Beach, California (c. 1952.) [via BoingBoing]
- The National Digital Stewardship Alliance residents are on the forefront of born-digital media preservation. Here's a look at the Carnegie Hall resident's efforts to understand the process of preserving live concert webcasts, educator workshops, master classes, and more. [via The Signal, Library of Congress]
- A shiny new collections search for the New York Public Library! [via NYPL on Twitter]
- Now available: "Community Approaches to Digital Stewardship," from the Library of Congress. [via Infodocket]
- On New Years Day 2015, the 44,000 works of art in the Smithsonian’s Freer | Sackler collection will be available online. [via WAMU]
- Dumpster diving! The National Museum of American History added a copy of the E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Atari 2600 game found in a landfill to their collection. [via O Say Can You See, National Museum of American History]
- The grand re-opening of the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum included “Maria Kalman Selects,” an exhibit put together by the Tel Aviv-born, Bronx-raised designer and illustrator. Her only criteria? That the objects give her a "gasp of delight." [via Cool Hunting]
- The American Association for State and Local History weighs in on the importance of documenting controversial histories. [via AASLH blog]
- The basics of copyright distilled into a comic book? I’m in! Available as images, a flash book browser, a print book, and free downloadable PDF. [via PetaPixel]
- The George Eastman House has released 6 new videos on historic photographic processes including this one on cyanotypes. All 12 are available here. [via PetaPixel]
Tomorrow marks the anniversary of the first Nobel Prize awarded in 1901. The recipients that year were:
- Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen (physics) "in recognition of the extraordinary services he has rendered by the discovery of the remarkable rays subsequently named after him"
- Jacobus Henricus van 't Hoff (chemistry) "in recognition of the extraordinary services he has rendered by the discovery of the laws of chemical dynamics and osmotic pressure in solutions"
- Sully Prudhomme (Literature) "in special recognition of his poetic composition, which gives evidence of lofty idealism, artistic perfection and a rare combination of the qualities of both heart and intellect"
- Emil Adolf von Behring (physiology or medicine) "for his work on serum therapy, especially its application against diphtheria, by which he has opened a new road in the domain of medical science and thereby placed in the hands of the physician a victorious weapon against illness and deaths."
- Jean Henry Dunant and Frédéric Passy (Peace)
The first woman to receive the prestigious award was Marie Curie, who was awarded twice with the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics and the 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. In the history of the Nobel Prize, out of the 889 Nobel Prizes laureates, only 46 have been women. As Marcel Chotkowski LaFollette points out in her recent piece for the Hillman Photography Initiative, the small numbers don't represent the actual contributions women have made. LaFollette examines the culture surrounding physical chemist Rosalind Elsie Franklin, who was the first person to image DNA structure.
Without Franklin's knowledge, Maurice Wilkins, one of Franklin's colleagues, shared her photograph with two other scientists also researching DNA, James Watson and Maurice Crick. Because of their interpretation of the image, the three men went on to win the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of the molecular structure of DNA; basically an interpretation Franklin had hypothesized in 1952. For many years, Franklin was left out of the history books when it came to this historic discovery. As LaFollette describes, "Credit should go to the flyboys, the creative geniuses, not the others. 'Technical stuff' was 'woman's work.'"
In honor of this anniversary, we'd like to highlight the women scientists in our collections who have broken boundaries to capture the elusive Noble Prize. We also include one woman, Austrian-born physicist, Lise Meitner, who was overlooked when her colleague, Otto Hahn, won the Noble Prize for the discovery of nuclear fission in 1945.
- Women Scientists in the Smithsonian Institution Archives Collections on Flickr Commons
- "Woman's Work: How Rosalind Franklin's 'Photo 51' Told Us the Truth about Ourselves," by Marcel Chotkowski LaFollette, Hillman Photography Initiative
- "There are Prizes...and There are Winners," by Marcel Chotkowski LaFollette, Bigger Picture
- "Is the Nobel Prize a boys mostly club?," National Public Radio
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