The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Posts tagged with: World History
- Set to open on July1, 2015, the National Museum of American History's exhibition, American Enterprise, will have a portion dedicated to exploring the "economic dimensions of slavery and reflect on the institution's social and personal costs." [via O Say Can You See? blog, NMAH]
- New blog alert - National Book Festival blog from the Library of Congress. [via LOC blog]
- From 2010 to 2013 photographer Jimmy Nelson traveled around the world to capture the portraits of disappearing people groups and to preserve glimpses of their rites, customs, and traditions with the hopes that the images would preserve the cultures even if they didn't survive themselves. [via PetaPixel]
- New releases - Three new interactive ebooks from the Library of Congress covering women’s suffrage, Japanese American internment, and political cartoons and public debates and from the Smithsonian Science Education Center comes a new web series called Good Thinking! that aims to clear up scientific misconceptions through its cast of colorfully-animated characters. [via InfoDocket and Tubefilter]
- Plant biologists are making great progress towards building World Flora Online, an online database of the world's plant species. [via InfoDocket]
- This week marked the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, which put in place many key tenets of good government and for the first time established the principle that everyone – including the king – was subject to the rule of law. [via The National Archives UK blog]
- From Smithsonian Channel - Plants That Explode to Disperse Their Seeds! [via Colossal]
- This week marked the 50th anniversary of the first spacewalk. [via The Verge]
- On display at the National Postal Museum through November 2017 is the British Guiana One-Cent Magenta, the world's rarest stamp. [via Pushing the Envelope blog, NPM]
- The Museum of Modern Art's website turns 20. [via Insdie/Out blog, MOMA]
- A monumental task - The first attempt to archive the .EU domain. [via Net Preserve Blog, IIPC]
- Announced this week - the National Museum of African American History and Culture will display objects from a slave shipwreck found near Cape Town, South Africa. [via Newsdesk, SI]
- 6 unexpected objects in the history of the internet at the National American History Museum. [O Say Can You See? blog, NMAH]
- Under development is the Library of Congress Demographic Group Terms (LCDGT) which will be used to describe the creators of, and contributors to, resources, and also the intended audience of resources. [via InfoDocket]
- Now available - the official 11-year timelapse of One World Trade Center being built. [via PetaPixel]
- This week billions of people around the world celebrated the Lunar New Year on February 19. For the Chinese, 2015 is the year of the Ram and one of the traditions that go along with celebrating the New Year is the lion dance. Photographer Jason Lam's project, "Inside the Lion," captures the people behind the lion costume. [via Lens blog, NYT]
- Here is a list of children's books about Chinese New Year from the New York Public Library. [via New York Public Library blog]
- A peak at an interesting portrait of Dr. George Washington Carver at the National Museum of American History. [via O Say Can You See? blog, NMAH]
- Chicken wire, a seemingly common place material, is transformed by artist, Kendra Haste, into remarkably real sculptures of animals. [via Colossal]
- With 20 percent of entries disqualified from the World Press Photo competition for excessive post-processing, a debate about the rules and ethics in digital photojournalism. [via Lens blog, NYT]
- Technology and art meet in the attempt to identify a portrait as that of Anne Boleyn, queen to King Henry VIII, through the use of facial recognition software. [via The Guardian]
- The British Library's Endangered Archives Program released more than 500,000 additonal images online this week, adding to those already online for a total of more than 4 million images available from a variety of collections. [via InfoDocket]
- Archives, libraries, and museums are fighting to prevent the kinds of loss from the "Digital Dark Age" as discussed by internet pioneer, Vint Cerf, at the recent conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, by developing tools to preserve and make accessible our digital history. [via BBC News]
- The beauty of the mechanical - Photographer, Kevin Twomey, has a series of images of the inside workings of mechanical calculators. [via PetaPixel]
- The Getty's Online Scholarly Catalogue Initiative (OCSI) serves as a platform for the sharing of free art catalogues, including the Freer and Sackler Galleries catalog, The World of the Japanese Illustrated Book. [via OpenCulture]
- On Halloween this year, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Museum of American History redidicated Alexander Calder's, Gwenfritz, as was reinstalled in it's original location on the west lawn of NMAH. [via O Say Can You See? blog, NMAH]
- A reimagined National Mall, as told by artist, Sam Durant's Proposal for White and Indian Dead Monument Transpositions, Washington, D.C., which is on exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. [via Unframed blog, LACMA]
- Imagine that - You are now able to search every tweet on Twitter, all some half trillion of them and get results in under 100ms. [via InfoDocket]
- The Great War is a video series that will document how World War I unfolded, week-by-week, for the next 4 years. [via OpenCulture]
- Talk about a handful - A look at raising red pandas by hand at the National Zoo. [via Smithsonian Science]
In our modern world of Internet feeds, push notifications, and twenty-four-hour news coverage, it can be difficult to imagine relying not only on printed material for knowledge of world affairs but on time-delayed information - like this update on the progress of World War II from The Washington Star, dated August 30, 1942. The article was rediscovered on the back of another clipping which was being prepared for digitization from the papers of Samuel Pierpont Langley, third secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. It featured a detailed breakdown of the conflict across all relevant theaters from Europe to the Pacific, and supplemented by a map of Allied and Axis movements in northern France, this war update provides what may have been for many Washington, D.C. residents one of the only resources available to them for following the progress of a struggle that friends and family were directly or indirectly involved in, and that touched all aspects of their lives.
At this point in the war, the extent to which the conflict would continue was a subject of much debate and great concern; as the headline states, "Embattled World Starts Fourth Year of War With Turning Point Still Lying Ahead," highlighting the uncertain future of world affairs. While the article is positive about Allied victories, the pervading sense that the world is being beaten down by the conflict is clear from the author’s stark observation that “there is no end in sight,” and from the characterization of Russia's resistance to the German eastern line as "in an increasingly desperate condition." The article further touches on the German–Russian stalemate at Stalingrad and the Japanese defeat at Guadalcanal, foreshadows the Second Battle of El Alamein in Egypt, and celebrates the declaration of a previously neutral Brazil for the Allied side.
This update is also fascinating for the glimpse it offers of wartime censorship, both subtly through some sub-textual journalistic frustration at lack of information on recent American casualties in the Pacific, and less so courtesy of a second article below the war update specifically discussing the "Herculean task" of censoring news, an intriguing juxtaposition of the two contradictory wartime imperatives to spread and curtail information. The headline’s subtitle is of particular note - "Curbing of News Only Minor Part of Problem of Guarding War Information" - given the general perception of censorship as a negative process. In this case, censorship is functioning in part as a protective measure for the American forces serving overseas, lest sensitive information be acquired by the Axis powers.
The need to keep troop locations and movements under wraps even influenced those servicemen who volunteered to collect natural history specimens for the Smithsonian (when time permitted) to leave physical provenance information out of their reports home, as can be seen in a letter from Sergeant Raymond L. Baker to the Smithsonian. He informs the curators that "the exact geographical location will only be furnished when there is no longer need for censorship," presumably providing those details after the conflict ended. The instructions to keep geographical data out of reports likely came from A Field Collector’s Manual in Natural History, prepared by Smithsonian staff for these soldier-collectors.
As the United States celebrates Veterans Day in conjunction with Remembrance Days throughout the world, the rediscovery of this World War II era news update encourages reflection on the dedicated service of the men and women who fought for their countries and did their best to protect innocent lives.
- Record Unit 7003 - Samuel Pierpoint Langley Papers, 1867-1906, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- 1 of 33
- next ›