The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Posts tagged with: World History
One early assumption about the Science Service collections was that the material would be of primary (if not sole) interest to historians of science, technology, and medicine. Soon, however, historians of journalism and mass communications realized that the records offered valuable new perspectives on the construction of science news and information during the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. One could, for example, analyze reporting approaches, growth of scientific photojournalism, the use of radio, and the collaboration between the media and technical experts.
Because the Science Service staff had friends and colleagues in media outlets around the world, the records also provide glimpses of the wider world of journalism. Watson Davis and the other senior editors were members of the National Press; many had congressional and White House press credentials. During World War II, their role was to report on the home front but they maintained close contact with colleagues who served in far more dangerous situations abroad.
One of the reporters whom Davis had gotten to know during the Scopes anti-evolution trial was Raymond Lewis Clapper (1892-1944). By 1925, Clapper was well-known to readers around the country. He had worked for United Press since 1916, and eventually became head of the syndicate's Washington bureau before joining the Scripps-Howard organization in the 1930s. He had begun his radio reporting career in 1942 with the Mutual Broadcasting Service.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Clapper became a military correspondent, covering U.S. Navy activities in the Pacific and broadcasting from every place he could. He died at age 51, during the U.S. invasion of the Marshall Islands, when the plane in which he was traveling as an observer collided with another plane.
In peacetime, Thomas Robert Henry (1893-1968) had covered science for the Washington Star, and was a charter member of the National Association of Science Writers, which a small group of journalists (including Davis) had founded in 1934. During World War II, Henry was embedded with U.S. infantry forces as they moved through Italy, and he was among the reporters who later observed horror firsthand as the Allies liberated the Nazi death camps. After the war, Henry became an advisor to the Smithsonian Institution news office (his papers are in the Archives).
The Science Service circle of friends and colleagues also included political cartoonists. Born in Carbondale, Pennsylvania, in 1919, Thomas F. Flannery (1919-1999) had attended the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn before joining the U.S. Air Force. He still looked like a "youngster" when he served, from 1943 to 1945, as a cartoonist for the U.S. Army magazine Yank.
After the war, Flannery became a newspaper editorial cartoonist, eventually working for the Baltimore Sun from 1957 until 1988, and producing memorable commentary on attempts to desegregate the nation's schools. Several thousand of his original drawings, on topics that range from the environment to foreign affairs, from the space program to the Vietnam War, are in the collections of the Johns Hopkins University Library.
A great editorial cartoon, Stephen Hess and Milton Kaplan observe in The Ungentlemanly Art, must quickly fuse an idea about contemporary events into artistic expression. Cartoonists like Flannery translated the daily experiences of soldiers into visual communications, all with a few lines of ink, just as the reporters like Clapper and Henry painted pictures for their readers with words.
- Thomas R. Henry: Soldier, Explorer, Scientist, Journalist, The Bigger Picture blog, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Thomas F. Flannery cartoon, Yank Magazine - The Army Weekly
- Tom Flannery Cartoons Collection, Johns Hopkins University
- Record Unit 7347 - Thomas R. Henry Papers, 1933-1966, Smithsonian Institution Archives
- Science Service collections at the Smithsonian Institution Archives
- 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]
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