The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Posts tagged with: Archives
For our next Miscellaneous Adventure, you voted to open Record Unit 7399 – Hahn William Capps Papers, 1939-1964, Box 1, Folder Miscellaneous Larval Notes, Sketches, etc. (Unpublished). This folder is pretty thin, so I have to admit I was a little disappointed when I first opened it thinking it was going to be a bust. However, tucked between other miscellaneous notes, I discovered what I was hoping to find: a set of notes with hand-drawn larval sketches.
Hanh Willam Capps was an Entomologist with the United States Department of Agriculture from 1938 to 1964 and primarily focused on the study of Lepidoptera. While this folder came from his papers, the set of notes I found particularly interesting were actually written by Frederick M. Bayer. Bayer was a curator at the National Museum of Natural History, and a marine biologist who specialized in the study of soft corals, which makes his notes about caterpillars even most interesting. Also, attached to the notes was a memorandum from Austin H. Clark suggesting that the notes were worth keeping because it was the only known description of the early stages of this particular species in Florida.
Frederick Bayer’s notes that were found in this particular folder appear to be written about a month before his 17th birthday in his hometown of Riviera, Florida. The notes cover the early life cycle of a Florida species of caterpillar, and are very detailed. They start with date and time information for when and where the egg was initially deposited, as well as a description of the egg itself. Once the larva begins to emerge, Bayer describes its length and color, and he includes a sketch of the larva. He continues his accounts through the molting stages with the descriptions and drawings becoming lengthier and more detailed each time. Bayer ends his notes with a drawing of the chrysalis.
Vote Folder A for Record Unit 7388, Oscar Ling Cartwright Papers, 1929-1979 and undated, Box 16, Miscellaneous Reports, Publications, and Photographs, 1951-1979 (2 folders)
Vote Folder B for Record Unit 351, National Air and Space Museum, Photographs, 1922-1958, 1963-1966, Box 1, Folder Miscellaneous Photographs
- Past Miscellaneous Adventures posts, The Bigger Picture blog, Smithsonian Institution Archives
In 2009, we launched our first blog post and were a small team of 4 bloggers with contributors from across the Smithsonian. Today, we are 19 bloggers and have published over 2200 blog posts! We would like to hear from you; what features do you come back for and what would you like to see going forward? Please take 5 minutes for our survey so we can bring you the best archives news and resources.
When asked what the Smithsonian Institution Archives collects, we say we hold records about the history of the Smithsonian and its people, programs, research, and activities. While accurate, this doesn't really give anyone a clue about what is actually in those records.
The Smithsonian Institution Archives Reference Team handles an average of around 6,000 queries per year, and if you us what people have been researching at the Archives recently, you'll get some pretty interesting responses. Although not comprehensive, here's a snapshot of the diverse range of information encompassed by the history of the world's largest museum complex!
Over the past three months, researcher queries have included:
- Harry Ladd and the Great Barrier Reef
- History of computers at the Smithsonian
- The Handbook of North American Indians
- National Museum of Natural History construction
- Enola Gay exhibition
- The racehorse Lexington
- Galapagos Islands colonists
- Influence of Smithsonian on bird egg collecting
- The Columbian Institute
- Impact of nuclear isotopes on the coral structures
- Smithsonian Meteorological Project
- Society for Marine Mammology
- David Griffiths cactus photos
- American Encounters exhibition
- Elk migration
Permissions to upcoming publications using our photos or documents include:
- Dan Eatherly for Bushmaster: Raymond Ditmars and the Hunt for the World's Largest Viper.
- Smithsonian Journeys Quarterly - Publication of Smithsonian Journeys which organizes tours around the world used our image of archaeologist, Ephraim George Squier.
- E. Samantha Cheng used our image of Ruby Hirose in a public service announcement for Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month.
- Susan Bullers, images of women scientists for promotional material for The Buddy Study.
- Australia’s Wildbear Entertainment used our image of French inventor, engineer and chemist Georges Claude in a documentary film on the history of neon.
- The Linnean Society of London used our image of Martha, the last passenger pigeon, in their newsletter, Pulse.
Most unusual lreference request
We were contacted by Wyoming State Prison for a photograph of Mary Preston Slosson that will be featured in a permanent exhibit at the Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site.
- Reference services at the Smithsonian Institution Archives
Having grown up in a major U.S. city with a family that considered spending a week in a grass hut camping, I committed to giving my daughter more exposure to the great outdoors with all the wonderful state and national parks near Washington D.C. However, lack of sleep and rehydrated food was not what I had in mind.
Throughout history, Smithsonian researchers have conducted their work in remote places, sometimes enduring extremely difficult conditions. However, when examining some of the photos in the Archives' collections, it seems they had the knack for making life more comfortable. For example, study this image of Ferdinand V. Hayden on expedition in Utah, 1878, which shows a choice of lovely mountain view for afternoon tea. Quite civil, indeed.
Who says fresh-cut flowers are just for home? As you're hiking, pick a few for your campsite to make it a little more cheerful:
And camping food does NOT have to be the stuff of astronauts. This looks like a multi-course meal on a white table cloth no less! Is that champagne I see?
The Smithsonian, "glamping" since the 1800s.
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