Publications

The list of selected staff publications may be searched by keyword or author and can be sorted by year.

“Enterprise and Meaning: Sponsored Film, 1939 1949,” History Today 39 (December 1989): pp. 24–30.
“From the Fair to the Family,” in From Receiver to Remote Control: The T.V. Set. New York: New Museum of Contemporary Art, 1990, pp. 63–70.
“Television in the Ike Age,” in Keith Melder, Hail to the Candidate: Presidential Campaigns from Banners to Broadcasts. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1992.
Holidays on Display. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2007.

The warm glow exuding from animated store windows never ceases to arouse a feeling of nostalgic comfort in many Americans during the frigid months of the holiday season. In “Holidays on Display,” Bird examines what makes these windows, along with lighting displays and parade floats, have such a strong appeal to consumers. He does this through a photographic and textual history of all aspects of the display world. The book tracks the evolution of the outdoor lighting, animated windows, and parade floats that fill the streets of America with “holiday spirit.” Bird’s seamless use of text and more than 100 never-before-seen images produces a vivid and telling history of emotionally stirring display.

“Better Living”: Advertising, Media, and the New Vocabulary of Business Leadership, 1935-1955. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1999.

A history of how big business learned to be both entertaining and persuasive when talking to the public. Examining the years from the Depression to postwar prosperity, "Better Living" follows the dissemination of a politically competitive claim of "more," "new" and "better" in industry and life. Beginning with the changes in business-government relations during the New Deal, this study looks at the ways in which politically active corporations and their leaders learned how to speak--when speaking was not enough.

Paint by Number: The How-to Craze that Swept the Nation. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2001.

A history of the popular hobby from the vantage point of the entrepreneurs who created the kits, the consumers who filled them in and hung them in their homes, the artists who made them, and the critics who reviled them.

"American Family Robinson," "Cavalcade of America," "Theatre Guild on the Air," in Christopher Sterling, ed. The Museum of Broadcast Communications Encyclopedia of Radio. Chicago and London: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 2003.
American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith co-authored with William L. Bird, Jr., Lisa Kathleen Graddy, Grace Cohen Grossman, and Barbara Clark Smith, Smithsonian Books, 2017.
Ensign George H. Gay’s Fateful Day, June 4, 1942 Naval History and Heritage Command. The Sextant. http://usnhistory.navylive.dodlive.mil/ (published May 24, 2017). 

Ensign George H. Gay, Jr. flew his TDB Devastator torpedo bomber into history on June 4, 1942 in the morning hours of the Battle of Midway.  Gay piloted one of 15 torpedo bombers of Torpedo Squadron Eight (VT-8) which took off from the carrier Hornet (CV8) to strike a blow against the Imperial Japanese Navy's Carrier Battle Group. Due to a variety of factors, VT-8 went in on its attack run unescorted. Japanese fighter planes shot down Gay and all of his compatriots, with Gay becoming the sole survivor of the attack. Although he and his unit failed to strike a blow, their sacrifice upset the delicate opeations of the Japanese carrier battle. Forced to maneuver and reverse course to doge the American torpedoes, the Japanese lost valuable time in launching and recovering aircraft. These delays thwarted strikes against the American carrier force and provided a critical window for American dive bombers to strike fatal blows against three of the four Japanese carriers. Gay witnessed the attacks while floating and concealed from Japanese view.   

History's Data for Tomorrow's Navy Center for International Maritime Security. http://cimsec.org/ (published April 25, 2017). 

In an era where the Navy is facing contested seas from challenges posed by China and Russia, history can unlock potential advantages with which to meet current and future threats. Gathering and preserving its operational records, in essence data, is critical. Unfortunately, in terms of such historical records, the Navy is in the Digital Dark Age. It retains only limited data and is losing access to its recent history – knowledge purchased at considerable cost. The Department of Defense and the Navy must consider a cultural and institutional revival to collect and leverage their data for potential catalytic effects on innovation, strategic planning, and warfighting advantages. This cultural transformation of collecting and preserving historical data within the Navy will be a long process, but leveraging its history to meet current and future problems will aid in maintaining global maritime superiority.

"The Feather Trade and the American Conservation Movement" Smithsonian Institution Libraries, Connect (Summer 2014)

Fashion feathers and the part they played in American Conservation history. A short recap of the story told in the physical and virtual exhibit The Feather Trade and the American Conservation Movement, 1998, see: http://americanhistory.si.edu/feather/index.htm.

“The Portable Press and Field Printing during the American Civil War" in Printing History (July 2012)

This article discusses the invention, use, and short-lived importance of the American Civil War portable printing press to the armies and navies of the Union and Confederate forces.

Item 68, "Printing Presses in Action" Smithsonian Civil War, Inside the National Collection, 2013

A short recap relating to portable printing presses used by Civil War units to produce orders, and other field documents such as the Appomattox parole.

Item 86, "Woodblock Printing" Smithsonian Civil War, Inside the National Collection, 2013

Woodblocks were used to reproduce illustrations prepared in the field. The illustration for this woodblock was prepared on what is now referred to as Teddy Roosevelt Island on the Potomac River for the New York Illustrated News, ca 1863.

Item 44, The Wartime Patent Office with Pamela M. Henson, Smithsonian Civil War, Inside the National Collection, 2013

A history of the original U.S. Patent Office building and descriptions of a sampling of patent models now represented in the some 10,000 object collection of the National Museum of American History.

"John Wells: Hand Press Innovator" American Printing History Association website at: https://printinghistory.org/ 2016

John I. Wells his life, inventions, and letters patent

"Publishing the U.S. Exploring Expedition: The Fruits of the Glorious Enterprise" in Printing History (January 2008)

This article discusses the Congressional and east coast print production and printing of the volumes describing the findings of the U.S. Exploring Expedition (1838-42).

 

"A Press Pass for William Conant Church" American Printing History Association website at: https://printinghistory.org/, 2015.

A representation of the story surrounding the press pass printed by the Union Army of the Potomac and assigned to William Conant Church, of the New York Times, in 1862.

Music of the New York Stage, Vols. 1-4 (annotator) London, England: Pearl Recordings, 1994.12 compact discs with 10-page booklets for each volume.

The earliest sound recordings of American musical theater artists is the focus for this recorded anthology.

Star-Spangled Rhythm: Voices of Broadway and Hollywood, Vols. 1-4 (annotator and producer). Washington, D.C. and New York, NY: Smithsonian/BMG, 1996. Four compact discs with 80-page booklet; bibliog.; discog.

The history of the American musical is conveyed through 66 archival recordings of songs from stage and screen and textual annotation.

American Songbooks, Vols. 1-24. (annotator and producer) Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian, 1993-5. 24 compact discs with booklets.

The legacy of American songwriters is traced through this recording series with individual volumes devoted to Harold Arlen, Irving Berlin, Hoagy Carmichael, Cy Coleman, Duke Ellington, Dorothy Fields, George Gershwin, Oscar Hammerstein II, E. Y. Harburg, Jerome Kern, Alan Jay Lerner, Frank Loesser, Johnny Mercer, Cole Porter, Andy Razaf, Arthur Schwartz, Jule Styne, James Van Heusen, Fats Waller, Harry Warren, Kurt Weill, Richard Whiting, Alec Wilder, Vincent Youmans.

Fascinating Rhythm: The Broadway Gershwin, 1919-1933 (annotator) 1 compact disc with program booket. New York: BMG Classics, 1998.

This archival recording focuses on remastered 78’s made by Victor Recording Company artists in the 1920s and 1930s.

From This Moment On: Songs of Cole Porter, Vols. 1-4 (annotator and producer) Washington, D.C. and New York, NY: Smithsonian/SONY, 1992. 4 compact discs with 60-page booklet; bibliog..; discog.

Cole Porter’s work for the international musical stage and screen is chronicled in 84 archival recordings and textual annotation.

American Popular Song, Vols. 1-5 (annotator with James Morris and J. R. Taylor). Washington, D.C. and New York, NY: Smithsonian/CBS, 1984. 5 compact discs and 120-page booklet; bibliog..; discog.

An anthology of this distinctly national art form includes 110 selected archival recordings of classic popular songs and textual annotations.

Red Hot and Blue: A Smithsonian Salute to the American Musical with Amy Henderson. Smithsonian Institution Press, 1996.

Based on the 1996 Smithsonian exhibition with the same title, the text offers a collective biography of the artists and craftspeople who created the American musical on stage and screen.

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