It’s Our Anniversary…

Cake, by Daniel Nelson, Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0. It’s hard to believe, but it has been two years to the day that THE BIGGER PICTURE has been in existence (note: that rogue January post doesn’t count as it was backdated)! The blog was started by the Smithsonian Photography Initiative (SPI) back in 2009 as a venue where we could discuss the role of photography and visual culture at the Smithsonian and more broadly. We naively assumed that it would be a small endeavor to throw a couple of posts up there every week or two, but as many know, blogging tends to take on a life of its own, and THE BIGGER PICTURE soon became a crucial, and central, part of our outreach. Since then, THE BIGGER PICTURE has grown: SPI became a part of the Smithsonian Institution Archives in 2010, and incidentally, over a dozen new regular bloggers came on board. At the same time, our readership has skyrocketed over the past two years, thanks to you, our loyal readers. And we extended our purview from photography and visual culture to the role that archives play at the Smithsonian and the world—highlighting the strange and interesting objects in the Archives’ collections, and shedding insight on how we collect and preserve these items, as well as how you might manage your own personal archives. In celebration of our anniversary, here’s a look back at our 10 most popular posts from THE BIGGER PICTURE over the past two years. Thank you for your support, and if you know someone who'd like THE BIGGER PICTURE, please pass along our RSS Feed!

  1. The Saint Augustine Monster: What in the heck is a globster, and do they really exist? The St. Augustine Monster,1897, by DeWitt Webb, photograph: National Museum of Natural History, STR1
  2. Snapshots of Transition: Native American Reservation Life in the Early 1900s: A look at a special collection of photos taken by a missionary living on Winnebago and Mescalero Apache reservations from the National Museum of the American Indian.
  3. Help us ID Old Washington DC Photos on the Commons!: We looked to you for help in identifying locations in photos of early 1900's Washington, D.C. Because of your knowledge and research, we were able to make positive IDs on ten unidentified photos in our collections!
  4. Freaks and Geeks: You wouldn’t believe the strange things that people try to send to the Smithsonian. This post profiles a few of those oddities, including: a two-legged dog and a three-legged boy.
  5. A Surprise from Th Jefferson: It’s an archivist’s dream find—imagine opening an old file to find an undiscovered letter from Thomas Jefferson! It happened at the Smithsonian Institution Archives.
  6. Smithsonian Archives employee, Effie Kapsalis, tracing a Bentley-inspired snowflake.

  7. Crafting the Archives Way!: What do you do if you have the first known photographs of snowflakes? You make crafting templates out of them! People dug our snowflake templates around the holidays—remember to pull them out next year and keep tuned in for more.
  8. What Does an Electronic Records Archivist Do?: Well, for one thing, they work with really ancient floppy disks—haven’t seen one of those since the Oregon Trail!
  9. Love Thy Neighbor’s Mug Shot: The troubling trend of posting people’s mug shots online to increase newspaper readership and revenues. And what do people love more than Jane Doe’s mug shot?—celebrity mug shots.
  10. The Challenge of Preserving Digital Architectural Drawings: How do we preserve CAD drawings at the Smithsonian? I guess you guys are finding digital architectural files as challenging as we are, because it’s one of our most popular posts!
  11. I Found It In the Archives: What have we found in the archives as we process new collections?: gum wrappers, animal fur, a syringe, and a Frisbee!
  12. Examples of non-archival items found in boxes transferred to SIA, 2010.

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