When Scholastic first published Clifford the Big Red Dog in 1963, the book's creator, Norman Bridwell (1928–2014), had no idea his humongous—and huggable—red hound would capture the hearts of children and grow to become a worldwide symbol of children's literacy. Following Bridwell's death, his family generously donated over 90 objects related to Clifford to the Division of Home and Community Life's Education Collection, which chronicles the history of education in the United States from the colonial era to the present day.
Did you ever cut a linoleum block in art class? While rolls of linoleum were used for floor covering from the 1860s, artists only began to use the material about 1910. Pieces of linoleum, sometimes mounted on wood blocks, were quick to cut and offered a readily available material for making bold lines for prints. The material took on a useful role in art education, and many students from the 1930s to today first learned about printmaking from cutting and inking linoleum blocks, also called linocuts.
Many Americans write dates in numerical form, with the first digits for the month, the second for the day of the month, and the third for the year. The notation 3/14/15, for example, represents March 14, 2015. When dates are written in this manner, the digits can be compared to those of the irrational number π (spelled in English "pi"), the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle. This number is roughly 3, more precisely 3.14, and more precisely still 3.1415.
The Reverend Harold Mose Anderson was always fascinated by the movies. Anderson saved his money and bought a home movie camera from a catalog. Once he had it, he was seldom without it as he wandered the streets of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Much like a seasoned reporter, wherever he went, he always took time to load up the camera and check his film and equipment. He never knew when he might get a good shot of his community in action.
Offered in celebration of Black History Month and in recognition of the 100th anniversary of America's participation in World War I, the Buffalo Soldier objects in the Division of Armed Forces History serve as a fascinating intersection of African American and World War I history.
On February 13, women everywhere (we hope!) will be gathering together to celebrate Galentine's Day. First introduced in 2010 by character Leslie Knope on the TV show Parks and Recreation, Galentine's Day is about "ladies celebrating ladies," be they friends, co-workers, family members, or personal heroes. What began as a fictional holiday for women to honor other women has merged into real life as more women learn about and celebrate this happy day. In honor of Galentine's Day we have chosen some of our favorite gal pals in our collections.
Phyllis Diller kept all of her jokes meticulously organized in her "gag file," a large card catalog with 51 drawers standing over 4 feet tall. We're giving you a chance to peek inside Diller's gag file before anyone else, to help us transcribe these pieces of American history.
Over the past few months, I’ve read Margot Lee Shetterly’s book Hidden Figures and seen the movie with the same title. These works tell stories about the African American women who worked as human computers at Langley Field, a center for research in aeronautics and later aerospace near Hampton, Virginia. They suggest much about the place of women and African Americans in the mid-20th-century United States, the history of aeronautics and space flight, and changes in American culture—be it transportation, homes, religious organizations, or fashion.
Last summer, the National Museum of American History announced that we were hiring a brewing historian to join the team working on the American Brewing History Initiative. With its promises of research, documentation, and travel about the history of one of America's favorite beverages, the job quickly became the most sought-after Smithsonian position in America.