Publications

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

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.

Design for Victory: World War II Posters on the American Home Front with Harry R. Rubenstein. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1998.

This study delves beneath the surface of colorful poster graphics, telling the stories behind their production and revealing how posters fulfilled the goals and needs of their creators. The authors describe the history of how specific posters were conceived and received, focusing on the workings of the wartime advertising profession and demonstrating how posters often reflected uneasy relations between labor and management.

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.

America's Doll House: The Miniature World of Faith Bradford. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2010.

One of the most popular exhibits at the Smithsonian Institution is a dollhouse. Sitting on the National Museum of American History's third floor is a five-story home donated to the museum by Faith Bradford, a Washington, D.C., librarian, who spent more than a half-century accumulating and constructing the 1,354 miniatures that fill its 23 intricately detailed rooms. When Bradford donated them to the museum in 1951, she wrote a lengthy manuscript describing the lives of its residents: Mr. and Mrs. Peter Doll and their ten children, two visiting grandparents, twenty pets, and household staff. Bradford cataloged the Dolls' tastes, habits, and preferences in neatly typed household inventories, which she then bound, along with photographs and fabric samples, in a scrapbook. In America's Doll House, Smithsonian curator William L. Bird, Jr., weaves this visual material into the rich tapestry of Faith Bradford's miniature world. featuring vibrant color photography that brings every narrative detail to life, America's Doll House is both an incisive portrait of a sentimental pastime and a celebration of Bradford's remarkable and painstaking accomplishment.

“A Suggestion Concerning James Smithson’s Concept of ‘Increase and Diffusion,’” Technology and Culture 24 (April 1983): pp. 246–255.
“A Spate of New Toys Invades America’s Living Rooms,” Smithsonian 20 (June 1989): pp. 82–85.
"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.
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 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.

"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 Ultimate Broadway Composers, Vols. 1-12. (annotator). 12 compact discs with program booklets. London, England: Pearl Recordings, 2000-04.

This 12-volume series is devoted to rare original cast recordings of musicals by Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, and Sigmund Romberg.

I Got Rhythm: The Music of George Gershwin, Vols. 1-4 (annotator and producer). Washington, D.C. and New York, NY: Smithsonian/BMG, 1995. Four compact discs with 64-page booklet; bibliog..; discog.
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Pages