Publications

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

“From Tallahassee to Timbuktu: Cold War efforts to measure intercontinental distances,” in Historical Studies in the Physical Sciences (2000): 393–415.
“Political Geodesy: the Army, the Air Force, and the World Geodetic System of 1960,” in Annals of Science 59 (2002): 363–389.
"Changing in Place: Public Spaces on the National Mall" companion piece to the exhibition "Extending the Legacy: Planning America's Capital for the 20th Century" (1996).

This brochure, based on an 1875 panoramic photo, provides a brief history of the design of the National Mall.

"The Pharmacy Collections" with Eric W. Jentsch. Caduceus. (Winter 1997, Vol. 13 No. 3, pp.33–42).

A brief history of the pharmacy collections at the Smithsonian Institution.

"Three Cheers for Henry Clay: The Construction and Advance Demonstration of the Morse Telegraph at Annapolis Junction," Anne Arundel County History Notes, January 1993.

A day-by-day account of adversity and triumph during construction of the first telegraph line in 1844. Midway between Washington and Baltimore, Samuel Morse and Alfred Vail set up a telegraph station and sent the first practical messages and news bulletins by wire.

"At Home on the Highway.” American Heritage, December 1985.

A brief history of recreation vehicles, including house cars, tent trailers, and house trailers.

"Body by Fisher: The Closed Car Revolution,” Automobile Quarterly>/i>, August 1991.

The article examines the democratization of the closed car in the 1920s and Fisher Body Corporation's role in supplying closed bodies in huge quantities and varied styles. It looks at design changes, manufacturing changes, and aspects of consumer demand that explain the soaring popularity of the closed car.

“The Controversial Parking Meter,” Antique Automobile, January–February 1997.

A study of curb space, efforts to control it, and effects on central business districts. Cities installed parking meters in the 1930s to relieve congestion and increase revenue; motorists and storekeepers mounted a brief, intense legal battle.

"Planes, Trailers and Automobiles: The Land Yachts of Glenn Curtiss,” Automobile Quarterly, April 1994.

A look at motor vehicle innovations by airplane pioneer Glenn Curtiss, including lightweight car-trailer combinations
that led to the establishment of a recreational house trailer industry.

"The Selden Automobile Patent,” in Icons of Invention: American Patent Models, 1990.

A study of George Selden's 1895 patent on the automobile and the control that he exercised over the early automobile manufacturing industry.

"The Stars Wore Stripes: GIs Entertaining GIs at Fort George G. Meade and Overseas, 1941–1945," Anne Arundel County History Notes, April 1990, July 1990, October 1990, July 1991.

A description of the Special Service Division, the Army's equivalent of the USO. Talented soldiers organized stage
shows, sports activities, canteens, movies, and other morale programs for soldiers near battle fronts.

<em>Home on the Road: The Motor Home in America.</em> Washington and London: Smithsonian Institution Press, 2000.

A history of recreation vehicles since 1900 with emphasis on self-propelled units and adaptations of motor vehicles. Explores motorists' innovations, furnishings, family vacation travel and domestic life, and early RV manufacturing.

"Stations by Tichy: Modern Architecture for the Pennsylvania Railroad, 1940–1957," Keystone, Autumn 1993.

This article examines small-town railroad stations reinterpreted in a moderne, streamlined style by Lester Tichy,
chief architect for Raymond Loewy.

"A Presidential Train Wreck,” Maryland Magazine, Summer 1990.

An account of an 1881 collision involving Rutherford B. Hayes and his family.

"Fisher Body Corporation." Encyclopedia of American Business History and Biography. New York: Facts On File, 1988.

A history of the Fisher Brothers and Fisher Body Corporation, an automobile body manufacturing firm that supplied General Motors and helped to popularize the luxurious closed car in the 1920s.

Souvenir Nation: Relics, Keepsakes, and Curios from the Smithsonian's National Musuem of American History bibliography

Hidden within the collection of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History is an astonishing group of historical relics, many of which never before have been displayed. These seemingly ordinary objects, gathered by generations of collectors, embody sometimes humorous but often poignant stories about extraordinary moments in our shared past.

Souvenir Nation presents more than fifty artifacts--from a shard of Plymouth Rock chisleled off by an overzealous nineteenth-century tourist to the magnifying glass used to examine the infamous hanging chads of the 2000 presidential election. Readers will discover the stories behind the dish towel-turned-flag of truce that ended the Civil War, Franklin D. Roosevelt's Fireside Chat microphones, and the chairs that seated Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy during America's first televised presidential debate--not to mention a curious pair of framed specimens known as the Hair of the Presidents and the Hair of Persons of Distinction.

Curator William L. Bird describes how each of these eccentric objects found a home at the Smithsonian and offers a glimpse behind the scenes of the museum. Strikingly photogra[phed, the souvenirs in thie ecletic trove are signposts to a uniquely American narrative, revealing who we are through the things we have saved.

Souvenir Nation: Relics, Keepsakes, and Curios from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History bibliography

Hidden within the collection of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History is an astonishing group of historical relics, many of which never before have been displayed. These seemingly ordinary objects, gathered by generations of collectors, embody sometimes humorous but often poignant stories about extraordinary moments in our shared past.

Souvenir Nation presents more than fifty artifacts--from a shard of Plymouth Rock chiseled off by an over-zealous nineteenth-century tourist to the magnifying glass used to examine the infamous hanging chads of the 2000 presidential election. Readers will discover the stories behind the dish towel-turned-flag of truce that ended the Civil War, Franklin D. Roosevelt's Fireside Chat microphones, and the chairs that seated Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy during America's first televised presidential debate--not to mention a curious pair of framed specimens known as the Hair of the Presidents and the Hair of Persons of Distinction.

Curator William L. Bird, Jr., author of America's Doll House and Holidays on Display, describes how each of these eccentric objects found a home at the Smithsonian and offers a glimpse behind the scenes of the museum. Strikingly photographed, the souvenirs in thie eclectric trove are signposts to a uniquely American narrative, revealing who we are through the things we have saved.

"The Great Transportation Revolutions." Traffic World (Special Issue, April 2007).

Feature article in 100th anniversary issue of the standard periodical of the North American transportation industry, published each week since 1907, the longest continuous-running weekly in the world.

"The Practice of the History of Science and Technology in the West." Studies in the History of Science and Technology (1991, Issue 3).  Moscow:  Institute for the History of Science and Technology, USSR Academy of Sciences.

An overview for Soviet academicians of the historiography of science and technology studies in the U.S. and Europe.

“Salzburgers and Slavery: A Problem of Mentalité.” Georgia Historical Quarterly LXVIII:2 (Summer 1984).

Social attitudes of German immigrants in 18th-C colonial Georgia.

"Risk and the Real Cost of Electrification." Railroad History, No. 181 (Autumn 1999).

Why—during the ‘energy crises’ of the 1970s and 80s—U.S. railroads did not implement extensive plans that were made to convert rail lines to electric power.

"John Bull," and "No. 1401." In Conaway, James, The Smithsonian: 150 Years of Adventure, Discovery, and Wonder. New York and Washington: Knopf and Smithsonian Books, 1995.

Essays on two of the Smithsonian’s most important industrial artifacts.

"Foreword." In J.F. Davidson and M.S. Sweeney, On the Move: Transportation and the American Story. Washington: National Geographic Society and Smithsonian Press, 2003.

Mobility as a defining part of the American experience.

"The Historical Challenge: Transportation History and the Public." Transportation Quarterly, 50:4, Anniversary Issue, n.d. [1997].

Bringing together historians and transportation planners for better public understanding of transportation issues.

"Railroads." World Book Encyclopedia (1997 thru current ed.).

Article for the world’s most-used encyclopedia.

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