Publications

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

Smithsonian Magazine  “How Disney Came to Define What Constitutes the American Experience,“ Smithsonian Magazine, Smithsonian Institution, January 3, 2017 http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/how-disney-came-define-what-constitutes-american-experience-180961632/
What It Means to Be An American “The Laptops that Powered the American Revolution,” What it Means to Be an American, Zocalo Public Square, February 23, 2016, http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2016/02/23/laptops-powered-american-revolution/chronicles/who-we-were/
Smithsonian Magazine "The Somber History of the Presidential Funeral Train," Smithsonian Magazine, Smithsonian Institution, December 5, 2018, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/somber-history-presidential-funeral-train-180970955/
Gendered Freedoms: Race, Rights, and the Politics of Household in the Civil War Delta. Series on Southern Dissent, University Press of Florida, 2003.
Gender and the Southern Body Politic. University Press of Mississippi, 2000.
“Solid Object/Mutable Meaning: Fancywork and the Construction of Bourgeois Culture.” Winterthur Portfolio, 26, no. 4 (Winter, 1991): 231-47.
“Reconstruction in Public History and Memory at the Sesquicentennial: A Roundtable Discussion.” Journal of the Civil War Era, 2017.
“Slavery and Capitalism” and “Women and Enslavement.” In To Dream the World Anew, Smithsonian Books, 2016.
The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, Volume 13: Gender. Edited with Ted Ownby. University of North Carolina Press, 2009.
"Nina Katchadourian's Genealogy of the Supermarket," Gastronomica: The Journal of Food & Culture 8, no. 4 (November 08): 7-9.
"Beans Are Bullets and Of Course I Can! War-Era Food Posters from the Collection of the National Agricultural Library"

An exhibit, website, and presentation created for the National Agriculture Library. The exhibit examines the poster styles, propaganda messages, and advertising history through the topic of food in wartime. 

“Food Culture, Supermarkets, and Packaging”
"Review Essay: A Winery Pastoral," Gastronomica: The Journal of Food & Culture 9, No. 3 (Summer 2009), 79-81.
“From the Fair to the Family,” in From Receiver to Remote Control: The T.V. Set. New York: New Museum of Contemporary Art, 1990, pp. 63–70.
“Television in the Ike Age,” in Keith Melder, Hail to the Candidate: Presidential Campaigns from Banners to Broadcasts. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1992.
“Better Living”: Advertising, Media, and the New Vocabulary of Business Leadership, 1935-1955. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1999.

A history of how big business learned to be both entertaining and persuasive when talking to the public. Examining the years from the Depression to postwar prosperity, "Better Living" follows the dissemination of a politically competitive claim of "more," "new" and "better" in industry and life. Beginning with the changes in business-government relations during the New Deal, this study looks at the ways in which politically active corporations and their leaders learned how to speak--when speaking was not enough.

Paint by Number: The How-to Craze that Swept the Nation. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2001.

A history of the popular hobby from the vantage point of the entrepreneurs who created the kits, the consumers who filled them in and hung them in their homes, the artists who made them, and the critics who reviled them.

Design for Victory: World War II Posters on the American Home Front with Harry R. Rubenstein. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1998.

This study delves beneath the surface of colorful poster graphics, telling the stories behind their production and revealing how posters fulfilled the goals and needs of their creators. The authors describe the history of how specific posters were conceived and received, focusing on the workings of the wartime advertising profession and demonstrating how posters often reflected uneasy relations between labor and management.

America's Doll House: The Miniature World of Faith Bradford. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2010.

One of the most popular exhibits at the Smithsonian Institution is a dollhouse. Sitting on the National Museum of American History's third floor is a five-story home donated to the museum by Faith Bradford, a Washington, D.C., librarian, who spent more than a half-century accumulating and constructing the 1,354 miniatures that fill its 23 intricately detailed rooms. When Bradford donated them to the museum in 1951, she wrote a lengthy manuscript describing the lives of its residents: Mr. and Mrs. Peter Doll and their ten children, two visiting grandparents, twenty pets, and household staff. Bradford cataloged the Dolls' tastes, habits, and preferences in neatly typed household inventories, which she then bound, along with photographs and fabric samples, in a scrapbook. In America's Doll House, Smithsonian curator William L. Bird, Jr., weaves this visual material into the rich tapestry of Faith Bradford's miniature world. featuring vibrant color photography that brings every narrative detail to life, America's Doll House is both an incisive portrait of a sentimental pastime and a celebration of Bradford's remarkable and painstaking accomplishment.

“A Suggestion Concerning James Smithson’s Concept of ‘Increase and Diffusion,’” Technology and Culture 24 (April 1983): pp. 246–255.
“A Spate of New Toys Invades America’s Living Rooms,” Smithsonian 20 (June 1989): pp. 82–85.
“Advertising, Company Voice.” “Cavalcade of America.” “General Electric Theater.” In Horace Newcomb, ed. Encyclopedia of Television. Chicago and London: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1997.
Holidays on Display. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2007.

The warm glow exuding from animated store windows never ceases to arouse a feeling of nostalgic comfort in many Americans during the frigid months of the holiday season. In “Holidays on Display,” Bird examines what makes these windows, along with lighting displays and parade floats, have such a strong appeal to consumers. He does this through a photographic and textual history of all aspects of the display world. The book tracks the evolution of the outdoor lighting, animated windows, and parade floats that fill the streets of America with “holiday spirit.” Bird’s seamless use of text and more than 100 never-before-seen images produces a vivid and telling history of emotionally stirring display.

“Enterprise and Meaning: Sponsored Film, 1939 1949,” History Today 39 (December 1989): pp. 24–30.
"American Family Robinson," "Cavalcade of America," "Theatre Guild on the Air," in Christopher Sterling, ed. The Museum of Broadcast Communications Encyclopedia of Radio. Chicago and London: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 2003.

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