The natural resources collections offer centuries of evidence about how Americans have used the bounty of the American continent and coastal waters. Artifacts related to flood control, dam construction, and irrigation illustrate the nation's attempts to manage the natural world. Oil-drilling, iron-mining, and steel-making artifacts show the connection between natural resources and industrial strength.
Forestry is represented by saws, axes, a smokejumper's suit, and many other objects. Hooks, nets, and other gear from New England fisheries of the late 1800s are among the fishing artifacts, as well as more recent acquisitions from the Pacific Northwest and Chesapeake Bay. Whaling artifacts include harpoons, lances, scrimshaw etchings in whalebone, and several paintings of a whaler's work at sea. The modern environmental movement has contributed buttons and other protest artifacts on issues from scenic rivers to biodiversity.
- Women and ships were the most popular subjects for scrimshaw carved by crewmen on long, slow whaling voyages. In this deeply engraved example, a beautifully coiffed and fashionable young lady, possibly in mourning dress, has pulled a locket from her bodice and is gazing at the image of a smiling young man. The curls of her girlish hairstyle would indicate that she is unmarried, although the traditional ring finger of her left hand is not shown. The mid-19th-century date of this tooth is suggested by the style of the dress.
- Currently not on view
- Date made
- ca 1840
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History