The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Posts tagged with: 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.
- 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]
- 1 of 8
- next ›