The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
This spring Field Book Project began cataloging in the Division of Invertebrate Zoology, which holds the field notes of Horton H. Hobbs Jr. His materials are particularly appropriate to discuss for Father’s Day. While processing his field notes and data sheets, and cataloging the materials for the Field Book Project, the references found offer tantalizing glimpses into his life and relationships.
Hobbs not only studied crayfish, he was the leading authority in freshwater crayfishes of North America. This and other qualities earned him the nickname “crawdaddy.” An article by Karen Reed and Raymond B. Manning at the Department of Invertebrate Zoology described him as “the quintessential southern Gentleman” with a mischievous side. The article also includes a wonderful story about a retirement gift that hints at his sense of humor.
…his expression, a mixture of embarrassment and delight, when he was presented with a pair of boxer shorts with two flies at his retirement party-the idea being that having studied entocytherid ostracods so long he might have developed hemipenes.
Hobbs’ career spanned six decades; nearly every year he went into the field, sometimes with his wife Georgia and son Horton Hobbs III. There are numerous references to family field work in his field notes and his publications.
Hobbs’ may not be unique in taking his family into the field, but he is one of only a few to document it clearly in his notes. Hobbs often recorded his observations on preprinted field data sheets and consistently listed the presence and work of his wife and son.
In a Father’s Day piece posted by Springfield News Sun, Horton III, said of his father, “he was one that would let you stumble and not walk you through everything…but he would be there to pick you up.” Horton Hobbs III followed close to his father’s footsteps, studying limnology, and is now a professor in the Department of Biology of Wittenberg University.
To learn more about Horton Hobbs Jr., and his work, we encourage you to check out the following resources, and search his field book records on Collections Search Center that will be available later this summer.
Horton H. Hobbs, Jr. (29 March 1914 – 22 March 1994). Biographical Notes, Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington
Dr. Horton H. Hobbs III, Department of Biology, Wittenberg University
Horton Hobbs’ daddy was ‘Crawdaddy’, Springfield News Sun
- The ever curious story of mailing children by U.S.P.S. [via Smithsonian Magazine]
- The 2016 American Alliance of Museums MUSE tech award winners were announced, and the Smithsonian Transcription Center won! [via Center for the Future of Museums]
- A behind-the-scenes look at Google Cultural Institute. [via Wired UK]
- A super interesting project, Display at Your Own Risk, examining the transparency of image rights statements surrounding museum images. [via Hyperallergic]
- 'Badass Librarians" saving ancient manuscripts from al Qaeda. [via National Geographic]
- The "History of American Slavery", a new multimedia course from Slate Academy. [via Open Culture]
- A homecoming of sort - the Smithsonian will have a permanent exhibit space in London in partnership with the V&A. [via Smithsonian Newsdesk]
- A new online portal to art history publications and rare books with over 100,000 volumes from the Getty!
- Weigh in on the future of a 1964 World's Fair relic, the New York State Pavillion. [via Hyperallergic]
- The Smithsonian's National Zoo's orangutan is pregnant and you can view the ultrasound that confirmed it! [via National Zoo]
In John Quincy Adams’ expansive diaries, he refers to his father as venerable (even, toward the end of his father’s life, as “aged and ever-venerated.”). As the first father and son to serve as President (a feat that would not occur again until George W. Bush’s inauguration in 2001), venerable seems like an understatement in describing both men. Having a Founding Father as a biological father meant that John Quincy Adams’ life of public service started young, and closely mirrored that of his namesake. But the Adams’ connections extended beyond Capitol Hill and the White House—all the way to the Smithsonian.
The Adams’ always had a strong relationship. Though John Adams was away from home often when his son was young—serving as a leader in the Revolution and the burgeoning new United States—once he began traveling Europe as a diplomat, John Quincy was old enough to come along. There, the younger John was able to become fluent in French, Dutch, Latin and Greek. The older Adams had always placed a high value on education and inquiry, and was impressed by his son’s “vigour and vivacity both of mind and body, for his constant good humor.” John Adams, during this father-son trip through Europe, referred to John Quincy as “the comfort of my life.”
Though John Quincy had long admired his father, and both of his parents’ careers in public service, their trip abroad from 1778-1782 cemented the incredible bond between father and son. It was a bond that was reflected as John Quincy Adams forged his own career in government and public service, which closely mirrored his father’s. Both worked as diplomats, served in Congress (John Quincy Adams writing in his memoirs that “If there is any body of men upon earth for whom more than for any other I ought to cherish any feelings of attachment,… it is the Senate of the United States. My father had the honor of being the first presiding officer. I had for five years that of being one of its members.”) Both were elected to the highest office in the United States-the Presidency.
But beyond that, both men had a high regard for scientific inquiry. John Adams was a founder and charter member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His son was a president of the Columbian Institute, a learned society made up of politicians and scientists, charted by Congress in 1818. His father (along with the other surviving former Presidents, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison) was inducted as an honorary member.
Later, when John Adams died in 1826—coincidentally on the same day as Jefferson—members of the Columbian Institute wrote to John Quincy to express their condolences. In his reply to his scientific-minded peers, John Quincy wrote:
Among the testimonials of respect to the memory of those citizens, by which their countrymen have honoured them, none would be more gratifying to them, and none can be more consolatory to their Relatives, than those proceeding from the Literary and Scientific Institutions, in the purposes of which they took a lively interest, and to which they were specially attached in the character of honorary associates.
The Columbian Institute was a forerunner to the Smithsonian, and John Quincy Adams was a strong Congressional supporter of the Smithsonian Institution during its founding. In 1841, the Columbian Institute was absorbed by the National Institute for the Promotion of Science. The National Institute, established in 1840 to develop a National Musuem, collected artifacts gathered by the US Exploring Expedition. Overwhelmed by a growing collection and lack of financial resources, the National Institute’s specimens were transferred to the Smithsonian in 1857 and 1862.
The Adams’ themselves—or, rather, their artifacts—also became part of the Smithsonian about 100 years later. In April of 1951, the Adams-Clement Collection of Presidential Memorabilia became part of the Smithsonian collection, donated by Adams-family descendant Mary Louisa Adams Clement. Among the items donated were over 600 portraits, family jewelry, furniture, letters and other mementos. In the 1951 annual report for the US National Museum, it was described as “the most important collection received by the department during the last year.”
Record Unit 7051, Columbian Institute, Records, 1816-1841, Smithsonian Institution Archives
The Presidents, The White House
The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden, The National Museum of American History