Peter Liebhold

Peter Liebhold

Curator

B.F.A, Maryland Institute College of Art, 1980

Research Specialties: 

My research focuses on the culture of work, management practice, manufacturing technology, and the methods and motivations of technological change. Throughout my professional life I have been involved with industrial history and the effort to preserve the working history of the nation. At the Smithsonian since 1985 I have curated and co-curated numerous exhibitions including: American Enterprise; Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program 1942-1964; Treasures of American History; Barriers to Bridges: Asian American Immigration after Exclusion; America on the Move; Between a Rock and a Hard Place: A History of American Sweatshops, 1820 - Present; Images of Steel, 1860 - 1994; and Who's In Charge: Workers and Managers in the United States. In January 2019 I will be opening a small exhibition, Hidden Workers, Forgotten Lives: Chinese Immigrants and the Transcontinental Railroad. In 1981 I helped open the Baltimore Museum of Industry in a renovated cannery building on the city’s historic waterfront.

Projects: 

Current Projects:

  • Hidden Workers, Forgotten Lives: Chinese Immigrants and the Transcontinental Railroad– exhibition in development
  • American Enterprise – Project Director 
  • America on the Move – Project Director
  • Research on the building of the Transcontinental Railroad
  • Research for articles on the development of precision agriculture and the history of GMOs

Past Exhibitions:

  • Precision Farming, (New Perspectives case within American Enterprise), January 2018 – July 2018
  • Work Incentives, (New Perspectives case within American Enterprise), July 2017- January 2018
  • Starting Up (New Perspectives case within American Enterprise), April 2016- September 2017
  • American Enterprise: Stories of Business, 1770- present, co-curator, July, 2015
  • American Roots: A photographic history of farming and ranching in the United States, U.S. House Committee on Appropriations; Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies hearing room, 11-2013
  • Sweet and Sour: The Chinese Restaurant in the US, co-curator, March 2011
  • Creating Hawai’i: Perception versus Reality, co-curator, August 11, 2009 – March, 2011, co-curator
  • Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program 1942 – 1964, September 9, 2009– January 3, 2010, (currently traveling), Project Director
  • Barriers to Bridges: Asian American Immigration after Exclusion, November 21, 2008 - August 4, 2009, co-curator
  • Treasures of American History, National Air and Space Museum, November 2006 – March 2008, co-curator
  • History in the News: September 11, September 2003, an ongoing changing exhibition 2003 - 2006, co-curator
  • America on the Move, National Museum of American History, November 2003, co-curator
  • The Spirit of America, National Museum of American History, lead curator 2001-2002, project canceled by donor
  • From Turbines to Tupperware: Two Centuries of Industrial Drawings from the Smithsonian Institution, Payne Gallery, Moravian College, Bethlehem, PA, August 3 - November, 2001, co-curator
  • Preview Center, National Museum of Industrial History, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in development
  • Between a Rock and a Hard Place: A History of American Sweatshops, 1820 - Present, National Museum of American History, Washington, DC, April - Dec. 1998, Museum of Tolerance, Los Angeles, California, November 1999 - March 2000, co-curator
  • The Family Car, National Museum of American History, June 1997- August 1997, co-curator
  • Images of Steel: 1860-1994, National Museum of American History, 1994-1995, co-curator
  • The Paper Shuffle, National Museum of American History, Information Age Theater, 1993, multi-media presentation, co-curator
  • Who’s In Charge? Workers and managers in the United States, SITES traveling exhibit, 1992-1996, co-curator
  • The Tool Chest, National Museum of American History, 1991-2003, co-curator
  • Workers and Manager’s: The Crises of Control in American Manufacturing, National Museum of American History, 1989-1990, co-curator
  • Information Age, National Museum of American History, 1990-1996, section coordinator.

Programs:

  • Sweatshops and Efforts of Reform, symposium
  • No Sweat U: Labor Standards and Codes of Conduct, October 6, 1998, Carmichael Auditorium, NMAH
  • 25th Anniversary of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, April 29, 1996, Carmichael Auditorium, NMAH
  • Economic Security and Progress: Commemoration of the 50th year of the Employment Act of 1946, February 20, 1996, NMAH
  • Wages and Jobs in an Era of Downsizing (part II of the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Employment Act of 1946), May 1, 1996, NMAH Coordinator of “Work in Progress” lecture series, NMAH, 1988 - 1995.
  • “Workers and Managers” a series of evening programs including symposia and films on the changing relationship between labor and management; December 1989 - February 1990, Carmichael Auditorium, NMAH, co-organizer.
Awards, Honors, and Special Recognition: 
  • The 2010 Outstanding Public History Project Award from the National Council on Public History. The award recognizes the Bracero History Project, a collaboration between the NMAH, University of Texas El Paso, Brown University, and George Mason University in creating an important oral history project (over 700 individual stories), an exhibition (Bittersweet Harvest), and a large website.
  • The G. Wesley Johnson Prize, for outstanding article in Public Historian, National Council on Public History, 2001.
Professional Affiliations: 
  • Society for the History of Technology
  • National Council on Public History

Publications

American Enterprise: A History of Business in America Washington, DC, Smithsonian Books, 2015
"El Monte Sweatshop" article contribution in The Encyclopedia of Modern Slavery, ABC-CLIO, 2011
Smithsonian Treasures of American History. New York: Collins, 2006.

Companion book to the Treasures of American History exhibition, featuring more than 150 objects from the NMAH collections.

Smithsonian Treasures of American History. New York: Collins, 2006.
"Washington City Museum," Public Historian, Fall 2004.
"Bringing Sweatshops into the Museum," with Harry Rubenstein. In Sweatshops USA, Richard Greenwald and Daniel Bender, eds., Taylor and Francis Books, Inc., New York, 2003
"Industrial Photographs," in At First Sight: Photography and the Smithsonian, Merry Foresta ed., Smithsonian Press, summer 2003.
“Hillotypes: A Sad Tale of Invention,” Photographic History, Spring 2000, Vol. 24, No. 1, p. 52.
"Experiences from the Front Line: Presenting a Controversial Exhibition during the Culture Wars," Public Historian, Vol. 22 No. 3, summer 2000, p. 67–86.
Between a Rock and a Hard Place: A History of American Sweatshops, 1820– Present, with Harry Rubenstein. UCLA Asian American Studies Center, Los Angeles, Calif., 1999.
"What Do We Keep?" with Steven Lubar. Invention and Technology, Spring 1999, vol. 14, no. 4, pp. 28–38.
"Between a Rock and a Hard Place," with Harry Rubenstein. Labor's Heritage, Vol. 9, No. 4, Spring 1998, pp. 4–25.
"Elizabeth Brayer, George Eastman: A Biography. Book Review," Technology and Culture, October, 1998, vol. 39, no. , pp. 784–785.
"Between a Rock and a Hard Place: A History of American Sweatshops, 1820–Present," with Harry Rubenstein.  George Mason University Web Site. July 1998.
"Seeking 'The One Best Way': Frank and Lillian Gilbreth's Time-Motion Photographs 1910–1924," Labor’s Heritage, Vol. 7, No. 2, Fall 1995, pp 30–61.
"Communicating Business: Corporate Agendas Through Photographs," Antenna, Vol. 7, No. 2, April 1995, pp. 4–5.
"Presenting History: Democracy on Display," Exhibitionist, Vol. 14, No. 2, Fall 1995, pp. 18–21.
"Lorraine Giordano, Beyond Taylorism, Book Review," Annals of the History of Computing, Vol. 16, No. 4, 1994, pp. 90–91.
"M. Susan Barger and William White, The Daguerreotype Nineteenth-Century Technology and Modern Science and John Wood (edited by), America and the Daguerreotype. Book Review," Technology and Culture, vol 34, no 2, April 1993.
"Albert Kingsbury," American National Biography, John Garraty, ed.
Who’s in Charge: Constructed Realities, et al, SITES, Washington, D.C. 1992.
"The Working People of Richmond: Life and Labor in an Industrial City, 1865–1920, Valentine Museum, exhibition review," Technology and Culture, vol 33, no 3, July 1992, pp. 564–570.
Cutting Tool Engineering, "History of Tools" series: "1989-1991: The Development of high-speed Steel", June, 1989; "Bicycle Wheels and Grinding Wheels", August, 1989; "The World’s Most Elegant Lathe", October, 1989; "Evolution of Drilling", February, 1990 ; "Threading Through History", August, 1990; "“The Milling-Machine Revolution", October, 1990; "“Hand Files", February 1991; "Gaging Change", March, 1991.
“J. B. Colt at Chautauqua,” Rittenhouse, vol 2, no 2, February 1988.