Vicarious research is one of the great joys of the reference desk at the Smithsonian Institution Archives. During our pandemic closure, we’ve missed catching those tantalizing glimpses of our patrons’ research inside the fishbowl walls of the reading room.
But research in the Archives collections is by no means on hold. Here are some of the subjects that have recently passed through the reference team’s inbox:
- Chairs designed by James Renwick Jr. for the Smithsonian Institution Building
- Bureau of American Ethnology anthropologist Gordon Randolph Willey
- A salvage diver who worked with historic archaeologist Mendel Peterson
- The history of the National Mall’s carousels
- The Instruments of Precision, Research, Experiment, and Illustration exhibit group at the Centennial Exhibition of 1876
- The Smithsonian Institution Shelter on Mount Whitney
- Robert Ridgway and the Harriman Alaskan Expedition
Smithsonian Archives images that will be featured in upcoming publications include:
- A photo of a Hall of American Costume installation for the Cambridge Global History of Fashion
- A photo of the “Winnie Mae“ at the Arts and Industries Building for a National Aviation Hall of Fame documentary
- An image of Gene Roddenberry in a dinner jacket for an upcoming issue of Air & Space Magazine
- A photo of schoolchildren visiting with the National Zoo’s first bison for a book on restoration ecology
- A tortoise watercolor by Jean Louis Berlandier for an exhibit at Lake Casa Blanca International State Park
- Images of “The Tomb in Which Andrew Jackson Refused to be Buried“ for Twelve Caesars: Images of Power from Ancient Rome to Salvador Dalí
Happy Public Domain Day!
Still looking for images to illustrate your research, or just a fresh Zoom background? As a late celebration of Public Domain Day (what non-information professionals quaintly call “New Year’s Day”), why not use some of the thousands of Smithsonian Archives images in the public domain?
Here’s how to find that perfect CC0 image from the Archives.
Starting on the Collections Search Center homepage, select the arrow next to the Search button and check off Only return results with CC0 media. You can add a search term, or simply press Search if you’re in a browsing kind of mood.
Now you’ll be on the search results page! Every Smithsonian unit’s CC0 items will be listed, so navigate to catalog record source on the left-hand side of the page, click See All, and select Smithsonian Institution Archives.
Here’s where you’ll be at this point. Portraits! Exhibit installations! Gardens! Vultures! The pickings are anything but slim. Personally, I’ll be opting for the famous Horatio Greenough statue of “hunky“ George Washington.