Publications

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

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.

"Abandoning the Stourbridge Lion--Business Decision-Making, 1829: a New Interpretation." in M. R. Bailey, ed., Early Railways 3:  Papers from the Third International Early Railways Conference.  London:  Six Martlets Press, 2006.

A new interpretation of one of the Smithsonian's most important industrial artifacts, the remains of the Stourbridge Lion, the first locomotive to run in the Western Hemisphere.

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

Article for the world’s most-used encyclopedia.

"Evolution of Energy Use and Transportation," in Zumerchik, J., ed., Macmillan Encyclopedia of Energy, v. 3. New York and London: Macmillan Reference, 2001.

Historical changes in transportation energy sources, fuels, and engines.

"Railroads and Cultural Diversity," in Miranda-Naón, Alejandra, ed., America’s Great Road. Baltimore: Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum, 1995.

Long-term impacts of railroads on U.S. demographics: immigration patterns, employment patterns, Native American displacement, cultural mobility.

Rails Across America: A History of Railroads in North America, ed. and co-author. New York: Smithmark, 1993.

A comprehensive social history of railroads’ impact on American history, popular culture, and daily life.

The Spirit of Steam: the Golden Age of Steam Railroading. New York: Smithmark, 1995; also Erlangen (Germany): Karl Müller Verlag, 1996; also New York: Barnes & Noble, 1999.

Historic black & white photographs, 1910-1950, with interpretive essays.

"Artefacts at the Smithsonian: a New Long-term Exhibition on the History of Transport Systems," in Trischler, H. and Stefan Zeilinger, eds., Tackling Transport. Science Museum (London), Deutsches Museum, and Michigan State University Press, 2003.

The interpretive philosophy and approach of the major exhibition, America on the Move.

"Some French and American Lithographs at the Smithsonian: a Retrospective View," In With a French Accent, ed. Georgia B. Barnhill (Worcester, MA: American Antiquarian Society, 2012),  83-96.

Discusses several donations of French and American lithographs to the Smithsonian and their use in the development of the Graphic Arts exhibition before 1900.

“Photography in the Printing Press: The Photomechanical Revolution,” and “The Material Culture of Media: Museums of Printing and Photography,” Presenting Pictures, Bernard Finn, ed., London: Science Museum, 2004.

Two essays in Volume 4 of the Artefacts series, studies in the history of science and technology, a collaboration of the Deutsches Museum (Munich), the Science Museum (London), and the Smithsonian. One discusses the role of photomechanical processes in reproducing and distributing pictures in the 19th century. The other describes selected museums that collect and exhibit visual collections and their apparatus.

Prints at the Smithsonian: the Origins of a National Collection. (Washington: NMAH, 1996)

Catalog of an exhibition celebrating 150 years of print collecting by the Smithsonian Institution. Essay examines the history of public attitudes and cultural changes that affected artists, collectors, curators, and audiences.

History of Photography special issue: “The Photographic History Collection, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.” Guest editor, 24:1 (Spring 2000)

A special issue of the journal History of Photography featured the Photographic History Collection at the National Museum of American History. Essays on several aspects of collection including daguerreotypes, W. H. F. Talbot, J. W. Draper, Pictorialism, color photography, and photomechanical processes.

“The Smithsonian in Cincinnati: Exhibiting Prints at the Ohio Valley Centennial Exposition, 1888,” in Alice M. Cornell, ed. Art as Image: Prints and Promotion in Cincinnati, Ohio (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2001), pp. 131–165.

This essay discusses the Smithsonian’s participation in a national exhibition, and describes the 1000 prints on view in the graphic arts section. It provides an appendix listing all artists and publishers included in the exhibition.

“Slavic and Eastern European-Related Graphic Collections in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History" in Slavic & East European Information Resources, vol.11, nos. 2-3 (Apr.-Sept.2010), pp. 226-245.
“Print Collecting in the Gilded Age,” Imprint: Journal of the American Historical Print Collectors Society, 29:1 (Spring 2004), pp. 2–13.

This article discusses Americans’ growing interest in prints in the last quarter of the 19th century, including exhibitions, sales, and the formation of collections.

“Publishers Wave the Flag After ‘Day of Infamy’,” Ephemera News, 21:1 (Fall 2002), pp. 18–23.

This article presents some of the magazine covers produced in 1942 to celebrate the first Fourth of July after Pearl Harbor and the related exhibition at the National Museum of American History.

“Prints in the Sartains’ Circle,” Philadelphia’s Cultural Landscape: The Sartain Family Legacy, Katharine Martinez and Page Talbott, eds., (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2000), pp. 25–38.

In a volume that presents a number of conference papers, this essay discusses the importance of prints to artists and collectors in Philadelphia in relation to the Sartain family of artists and art educators.

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