Digital Library: History and Culture

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.

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.

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.

Copyright Law as Storytelling

Video of the lecture given by William F. Patry, Senior Copyright Counsel at Google, Inc. and the author of a 7-volume treatise on U.S. copyright law entitled Patry on Copyright.

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.

Democracy 2.0: A Case Study in Open Government

Video of a lecture delivered by David S. Ferriero,10th Archivist of the United States, on open government, social media and digitization.

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.

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 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.

How to Survive in the New Media Ecology

Video of a lecture delivered by Lee Rainie entitled "How to Survive in the New Media Ecology." Originally delivered December 11, 2009

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.

Knowledge, Noise, and the End of Information

Video of a lecture by David Weinberger, originally presented September 16, 2008

Libraries in a Networked World

Video of a lecture given by Roy Tennant as part of the series on the future of libraries, museums and archives given in celebration of the Libraries' 40th anniversary.

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.

Not Done Yet: Charting a new Course for Librarianship

Video of a lecture given by David Lankes entitled "Not Done Yet: Charting a new Course for Librarianship"

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.

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?

Scholars and the Everywhere Library

Video of a presentation by Dan Cohen given in 2009 for the Future of Libraries series

Sea of Glory: America's Voyage of Discovery. The U. S. Exploring Expedition 1838-1842

Video of lecture by Nathaniel Philbrick on the U. S. Exploring Expedition 1838-1842

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.

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 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.

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.

We Can't Get There From Here: The Intersection of Research Library Aspirations and Copyright Challenges.

Video of a lecture on copyright issues for research libraries give by James Neal for the Libraries' 40th anniversary lecture series.

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.