Digital Library: History and Culture

"Make the Dirt Fly!" Building the Panama Canal

In 1904, the U.S. government embarked on the largest civil engineering project in history.

A History of Pop-up and Movable Books: 700 Years of Paper Engineering

Video of a lecture given by Ellen Rubin on the history of pop-up and movable books.

An Odyssey in Print: Adventures in the Smithsonian Libraries

Explore six centuries of rare books, manuscripts, art, and artifacts from the Smithsonian Libraries and learn how Smithsonian staff use these resources in their everyday work.

Bella C. Landauer Collection of Aeronautical Sheet Music

Highlights from the often colorfully illustrated collection of sheet music for early 20th century songs about planes, rocket ships, balloons and occasionally, romance.

By Aeroplane to Pygmyland: Revisiting the 1926 Dutch and American Expedition to New Guinea

A fascinating look back at a historically important scientific expedition to New Guinea told through diaries, photographs and original film footage.

Celebrity Caricature: Selections from the Smithsonian Institution Libraries

Hemingway and the Marx Brothers as drawn by the likes of Al Hirschfeld and Miguel Covarrubias.

Chasing Venus: Observing the Transits of Venus 1631-2004

Commemorating the sixth observed transit of Venus in 2004, this exhibition examines this rare phenomenon through astronomical texts written in the last four centuries.

Chasing Venus: Observing the Transits of Venus 1631-2004

Commemorating the sixth observed transit of Venus in 2004, this exhibition examines this rare phenomenon through astronomical texts written in the last four centuries.

Cultivating America’s Gardens

The Smithsonian Libraries and the Smithsonian Gardens have partnered to bring you a snapshot of the history and culture of the American Garden.

Doodles, Drafts & Designs: Industrial Drawings from the Smithsonian

Trace how ideas evolve into reality through inventors' sketchbooks, engineers' mechanical drawings, and architects' renderings from the 1830s to the 1990s.

Drawing from Life: Caricatures and Cartoons from the American Art / Portrait Gallery Collection

Sometimes humorous and always educational selections culled from the Libraries' collection of cartoon and caricature dating from the 1800's on.

Fantastic Worlds

Travel with us to the fantastic worlds of fiction inspired by 19th-century discovery and invention. Opens July 1, 2015 at the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC.

Finding Aid to Postal Files at the NPM Library

Inventory of archival files in the Library of the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum including Panama Canal Zone and Aerial Mail Service material.

From Horses to Horsepower: Studebaker Helped Move a Nation

The story of Studebaker told through images of its classic autos found in our renown Trade Literature collection.

From Horses to Horsepower: Studebaker Helped Move a Nation

The story of Studebaker told through images of its classic autos found in our renown Trade Literature collection.

From Smithson to Smithsonian: The Birth of an Institution

Learn about the man who gave his fortune "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge" and the early years of the Smithsonian Institution.

From Smithson to Smithsonian: The Birth of an Institution

Learn about the man who gave his fortune "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge" and the early years of the Smithsonian Institution.

Frontier Photographer: Edward S. Curtis

Thirty years of grueling work on the North American Indian Project cost the artist his marriage and his health. It also yielded an American legacy that is an artistic masterpiece.

Incunabula in the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology

An index to the earliest books printed with movable type held by the Libraries. Some entries have associated images.

Library and Archival Exhibitions on the Web

Library and Archival Exhibitions on the Web

Library and Archival Exhibitions on the Web

Curated by Libraries staff, this guide to online exhibitions from libraries, archives, and manuscript collections around the world is one of a kind.

Make the Dirt Fly! Building the Panama Canal

In 1904, the U.S. government embarked on the largest civil engineering project in history.

Nile Notes of a Howadji: American Travelers in Egypt, 1837 - 1903

Pack your bags and grab your Baedeker's for an excursion to 19th c. Egypt with American travel writers.

Nile Notes of a Howadji: American Travelers in Egypt, 1837 - 1903

Pack your bags and grab your Baedeker's for an excursion to 19th c. Egypt with American travel writers.

Parcel Post: Delivery of Dreams

After its establishment in 1913, the parcel post had a dramatic effect on the U.S. economy. A staggering variety of goods was mailed by parcel post - even children!

Parcel Post: Delivery of Dreams

After its establishment in 1913, the parcel post had a dramatic effect on the U.S. economy. A staggering variety of goods was mailed by parcel post - even children!

Postal files at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum Library

An index to the archival files held at the National Postal Museum Library.

Ramelli's Machines: Original drawings of 16th century machines

Original drawings and superb engravings from Ramelli's book of ingenious inventions that had a great influence on the development of mechanical engineering.

Samuel P. Langley: Aviation Pioneer (Part 1)

Samuel P. Langley almost succeeded in inventing the airplane before the Wright brothers. Who was Langley and what did he do?

Samuel P. Langley: Aviation Pioneer (Part 1)

Samuel P. Langley almost succeeded in inventing the airplane before the Wright brothers. Who was Langley and what did he do?

Seed and Nursery Catalogs

Colorful collection of catalogs that document the history of the seed and agricultural implement business as well as ornamental and edible plants in the U. S.

Sewing Machines: Historical Trade Literature in Smithsonian Collections

A popular collection of catalogs, manuals, and brochures showing the range of material published by and about American sewing machines companies from the 1840s to the early 20th c.

Shedding Light on New York

This massive archive of photographs show the variety of lighting fixtures E. F. Caldwell & Co. produced for wealthy clients like Carnegie, Morgan, and Astor.

Smithson's Library

A list of the original library of the Smithsonian's founder, given along with his bequest to the United States.

Taking to the Skies: The Wright Brothers & the Birth of Aviation

On December 17, 1903, in the bitter cold and with a gusty 27 mile-per-hour wind the Wright brothers made history.

Taking to the Skies: The Wright Brothers & the Birth of Aviation

On December 17, 1903, in the bitter cold and with a gusty 27 mile-per-hour wind the Wright brothers made history.

The Art of African Exploration

Explore Africa with early European visitors through the fascinating drawings, book illustrations and other objects from the Russell E. Train Africana Collection.

The Art of African Exploration

Explore Africa with early European visitors through the fascinating drawings, book illustrations and other objects from the Russell E. Train Africana Collection.

The Making of a Homemaker

"Comfort for her family is provided even at the expense of many an exhausted nerve, and an aching heart." Maybe what she needed was a comprehensive domestic guidebook?

The Philosophical Breakfast Club and the Invention of the Scientist

Video of a lecture by Dr. Laura J. Snyder based on her recent book "The Philosophical Breakfast Club: Four Remarkable Friends who Transformed Science and Changed the World"

Trade Literature Collection

This collection of manufacturer issued catalogs is internationally known as an important source for the history of American business, technology, marketing, and design.

Underwater Web: Cabling the Seas

In 1858 the world suddenly became smaller when an underwater telegraph cable joined two nations divided by the sea. From that first link, a vast web spread across the globe.

Underwater Web: Cabling the Seas

In 1858 the world suddenly became smaller when an underwater telegraph cable joined two nations divided by the sea. From that first link, a vast web spread across the globe.

United States Exploring Expedition

After four years at sea, the U.S. Exploring Expedition returned with a bounty of data, specimens and artifacts that would later come to the Smithsonian.

Voyages: A Smithsonian Libraries Exhibition

Voyages of discovery can be of many kinds: a physical journey to an unknown place, a mental exploration of new or familiar territory, or a wholly new episode of creative thought.

Zoos: A Historical Perspective

A sampling of the pamphlets, guide books, maps, drawings, and photographs of zoos from over 30 states and 40 countries collected by the Libraries.

Zoos: A Historical Perspective

A sampling of the pamphlets, guide books, maps, drawings, and photographs of zoos from over 30 states and 40 countries collected by the Libraries.