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Displaying 11 - 20 from the 59 total records
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The Copp Family Textiles
Grace Rogers Cooper
65 pages, 68 figures, 3 tables
1971 (Date of Issue: 27 July 1971)
Number 7, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
DOI: 10.5479/si.00810258.7.1
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Abstract

At the time this exhibit was proposed, the Copp collection of textiles and other family memorabilia, although unique in its scope of everyday household textiles, had received little exposure since its receipt in the late nineteenth century. The nature of household linens, however, made it imperative to take a considerably more-than-superficial look in order to distinguish one white piece from the next. Consequently, studies were made on each textile item in the collection which are now being published for the first time in this catalog.

In preparing textile items for exhibition, the historical information as to how, why, and where each textile was made is not the only element involved in considering them for exhibition. The physical handling of textiles must also receive serious study. Although, unlike ceramics, textiles do not break, their preservation is a complex problem. Old textiles that are in seemingly good condition can deteriorate from strain in handling, or too much light, or dust. Acid transferred from the hands of people touching the fabrics (as in hanging or mounting them), improper finishing of exhibition cases, overexposure, and heat are additional hazards. Unfortunately, many rare and irreplaceable museum textiles have been “lost” in the museum due to any one of these factors. Therefore, the methods used to meet the problems of cleaning, mounting, and exhibiting the Copp Family Textiles have been described in an appendix.


Hold The Fort! The Story of a Song from the Sawdust Trail to the Picket Line
Paul J. Scheips
57 pages, 19 figures
1971 (Date of Issue: 9 September 1971)
Number 9, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
DOI: 10.5479/si.00810258.9.1
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This is a history of a gospel song, which I first learned about a decade and a half ago while a historian in the Department of the Army's old Signal Corps Historical Division. I have been occupied with the song's history off and on ever since. Even as I concluded this account—to illustrate how the history of the song marches on—I heard from my friend John I. White of Brielle, New Jersey, that cowboys used to sing not only lullabies and ribald range songs to their herds but also “Hold the Fort” and other gospel songs. He said he had learned this interesting piece of information from the book Cattle by Will Croft Barnes (an old Signal Corpsman, by the way) and William McLeod Raines. About the time that White wrote to me, The New Yorker published a Weber cartoon in which a middle-aged man tells his stolid wife, who is seated before the family television set: “I'm going out to get a paper. Hold the fort.” As my friends will attest, I have been saying much the same thing for as long as they can remember.

Numerous thanks for assistance rendered me in this undertaking are scattered through the footnotes, but I would like to give special thanks to the following persons for their specialized and generous help and encouragement: Fred E. Brown of Houston, Texas; Joe Glazer of the United States Information Agency; Walter Rundell, Jr., chairman of the history faculty at Iowa State University; Alice Cole Scheips of the Industrial Union Department, AFL-CIO; Annie L. Seely of the United States Army Photographic Agency; Irwin Silber of New York City; Vincent H. Demma and Loretto C. Stevens of the Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Army; and the members of the staff, past and present, of the Music Division, Library of Congress.

P J. S

Washington, D.C.

January 1971


The Consul General's Shanghai Postal Agency 1867-1907
Peter L. Koffsky
46 pages, 7 figures
1972 (Date of Issue: 1 March 1972)
Number 13, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
DOI: 10.5479/si.00810258.13.1
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Abstract

This paper is the result of eight weeks' research, largely in the materials at the National Archives, with the purpose of reconstructing the historical development of the United States postal service in China, 1867-1907. Most of the data was found in the diplomatic and consular records of the Department of State, and consisted of largely isolated pieces of data, making generalizations difficult. Further investigation of this service is highly desirable, should additional materials become available.

This work was done as part of the Smithsonian Institution Undergraduate Research Assistantship Program during the summer of 1966, under the direct supervision of Mr. Carl H. Scheele, Associate Curator in Charge of the Division of Philately and Postal History. His suggestions and encouragement are gratefully acknowledged. Thanks are also owing to Mr. Arthur Hecht and Mr. Ralph Huss of the National Archives, for their inestimable help in locating the references needed.


Living Historical Farms Handbook
John T. Schlebecker and Gale E. Peterson
91 pages
1972 (Date of Issue: 24 April 1972)
Number 16, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
DOI: 10.5479/si.00810258.16.1
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Abstract

On living historical farms men farm as they once did during some specific time in the past. The farms have tools and equipment like those once used, and they raise the same types of livestock and plants used during the specified era. The operations are carried on in the presence of visitors.

The interest in such farms has resulted in the forming of the Association for Living Historical Farms and Agricultural Museums to which individuals and institutions may belong. Many of those engaged in the creating of living historical farms are starting fresh, with neither personal nor institutional experience to guide them. This handbook is intended to provide them with information gained by the experiences of others. The information here contained may be useful in helping them get started or in keeping going.

Some of those interested in living historical farms have had considerable experience in museum work and for them much of the information in this handbook is elementary. Indeed, it is from their experiences that the handbook has been composed. Even these museologists, however, from time to time like to know the location of others engaged in efforts like their own. The lists of persons and of enterprises provided herein will facilitate direct contact and exchange of information.

Popular interest in living historical farms has generated a large quantity of inquiries which have been nearly impossible to handle in the regular course of business. This handbook may answer most of the commonly asked questions.


History of the Comstock Patent Medicine Business and Dr. Morse's Indian Root Pills
Robert B. Shaw
49 pages, 28 figures
1972 (Date of Issue: 26 May 1972)
Number 22, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
DOI: 10.5479/si.00810258.22.1
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For nearly a century a conspicuous feature of the small riverside village of Morristown, in northern New York State, was the W. H. Comstock factory, better known as the home of the celebrated Dr. Morse's Indian Root Pills. This business never grew to be more than a modest undertaking in modern industrial terms, and amid the congestion of any large city its few buildings straddling a branch railroad and its work force of several dozens at most would have been little noticed, but in its rural setting the enterprise occupied a prominent role in the economic life of the community for over ninety years. Aside from the omnipresent forest and dairy industries, it represented the only manufacturing activity for miles around and was easily the largest single employer in its village, as well as the chief recipient and shipper of freight at the adjacent railroad station. For some years, early in the present century, the company supplied a primitive electric service to the community, and the Comstock Hotel, until it was destroyed by fire, served as the principal village hostelry.

But the influence of this business was by no means strictly local. For decades thousands of boxes of pills and bottles of elixir, together with advertising circulars and almanacs in the millions, flowed out of this remote village to druggists in thousands of communities in the United States and Canada, in Latin America, and in the Orient. And Dr. Morse's Indian Root Pills and the other remedies must have been household names wherever people suffered aches and infirmities. Thus Morristown, notwithstanding its placid appearance, played an active role in commerce and industry throughout the colorful patent-medicine era.

Today, the Indian Root Pill factory stands abandoned and forlorn—its decline and demise brought on by an age of more precise medical diagnoses and the more stringent enforcement of various food and drug acts. After abandonment, the factory was ransacked by vandals; and records, documents, wrappers, advertising circulars, pills awaiting packaging, and other effects were thrown down from the shelves and scattered over the floors. This made it impossible to recover and examine the records systematically. The former proprietors of the business, however, had for some reason—perhaps sheer inertia—apparently preserved all of their records for over a century, storing them in the loftlike attic over the packaging building. Despite their careless treatment, enough records were recovered to reconstruct most of the history of the Comstock enterprise and to cast new light upon the patent-medicine industry of the United States during its heyday.


Small Arms Ammunition at the International Exposition Philadelphia, 1876
Berkeley R. Lewis
68 pages, 76 figures, 45 plates
1972 (Date of Issue: 11 August 1972)
Number 11, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
DOI: 10.5479/si.00810258.11.1
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As the hundredth anniversary of the independence of the United States approached, extensive plans were made to celebrate that occasion by an International Exhibition to be held in 1876 in Philadelphia. A major consideration was the desire to show the world the technological development which had put this country in the front in many aspects of design and production. The Civil War had provided a tremendous impetus to new inventions and methods in the field of arms and ammunition. The United States patent system, the War, and the expanding economy combined to produce a spate of new ideas not achieved elsewhere at any time. The military forces of other countries had been interested observers during the Civil War, and thereafter moved rapidly to re-arm their troops with the newly devised breechloaders. The ideas for these, developed in this country, together with the know-how for their mass production, focused attention on the Centennial Exhibition. The big interest was military, but the expanding West assured firearms manufacturers a ready civilian market for new products. In 1866, all foreign governments realized that they had to change from muzzle loading to breech loading firearms. Having many thousand stands of old muzzle loaders on hand their first immediate preoccupation was to convert these to breechloaders. Literally hundreds of ideas were proposed to make such conversions, usually accomplished by cutting off a short piece at the breech, screwing on a new breech incorporating some sort of devise for opening and closing it easily and securely. Most of these systems were rather clumsy, not adaptable to multishot capability, and the resulting arms were at once obsolescent because of their large calibers. Some of these designs, however, were very sound and have served for a long and useful duration, e.g., Remington rolling block, Sharps drop block, Peabody, Ballard, Morse. The last had features still used in most firearms, such as enclosed cartridge head, rebounding firing pin, and spring loaded hook extractors. In the ten year period 1866 to 1876, inventors had been very active in designing new systems not inhibited by having to start with an old gun. At the beginning of this period there were practically no standardized cartridges.

Paper cartridges with powder and ball had been satisfactory for muzzleloading weapons, but they were fragile and subject to damage from moisture. More seriously, they were not adaptable to breechloaders, as they provided little or no seal for the joint between breech and barrel. Hence development of breechloaders and repeaters was directly tied to availability of suitable ammunition. Designers of effective early breechloaders had to come up with a practical cartridge too. It is still a truism that design of a good weapon must be concurrent with that of its ammunition.

The War Department display at the Centennial Exhibition was an important part of the material shown by the Executive Branch. Springfield Armory and the Frankford Arsenal each presented exhibits and actual sections of their shops in which visitors could watch rifles and ammunition being made. The ammunition production line of 19 machines constituted the first public display of automation as we now know it. In the official report on the Exhibition it was stated, “… no place seemed to arrest more the attention of the people, nor to hold them longer in contemplation, than that occupied by this machinery.”1

The Ordnance Department, U.S. Army, at the International Exhibition, 1876. 2 January 1877 letter of Lt. Col. S. C. Lyford, Representative of the War Dept. p. V. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 1884.

By 1876, design and production of small arms ammunition had been rather well formalized. Further improvements were to be in detail and in process refinements rather than in major concepts. Smokeless powder, not then available, would later extend the capability of the cartridge, but the mechanical aspects had been worked out. Earlier breechloaders often used special cartridges not adaptable to any other arm. The field was wide open in the 1860s and many designers and inventors sought to devise a cartridge that would combine good ignition with a satisfactory seal at the breech. The National Armory at Springfield, Massachusetts, and Frankford Arsenal at Philadelphia worked intensively to these ends, concurrently devising machines for producing the cartridges they needed. The Services constantly sought flatter trajectory, which required smaller calibers with longer cases in order to limit the recoil to acceptable limits. More powder produced the required higher velocity, but the bullet then had to be smaller as the product of these two is involved in the recoil calculation. In order to draw the longer cases that were called for by the military requirements, drawing and annealing techniques had to be perfected. Often by the time a requirement was met, the Services again raised the performance level specified. Many of the ordnance officers and civilian employees at the arsenal suggested new approaches, most of which they did not bother to patent. Often civilian inventors here and abroad saw and copied these designs and took out patents in their own names. Though the gun design field was nearly pre-empted by civilians, the opposite was true in cartridges. Frankford Arsenal led the world in design and production of small arms ammunition.


Agricultural Implements and Machines in the Collection of the National Museum of History and Technology
John T. Schlebecker
58 pages, 34 figures
1972 (Date of Issue: 18 August 1972)
Number 17, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
DOI: 10.5479/si.00810258.17.1
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Abstract

Museums must collect and exhibit the tools, implements, and machines which farmers use in their business. These items, however, seldom make up the core of real agricultural activity. The catalog here presented shows something of the range of items that farmers use and that can be preserved and shown. The variety nearly equals the volume. Most museums try to avoid duplication. Even so, few museums manage to collect a continuous series of things showing any one line of development. The discontinuity of farm objects on hand virtually rules out the telling of a coherent and complete history of agriculture. Nevertheless, the museum can show something about the major technological developments in agriculture. The evolution of the plow, the reaper, or the tractor can be suggested even if not fully illustrated. Hitting the highlights has to suffice.

The full history of technological change also involves several social and economic conditions.

First, changes in implements, tools, and methods results from the accumulation of knowledge. Device builds upon device: first came the wheel, and then, much later, the tractor.

Secondly, the potential user of the device must feel a need for it. The new method or device not only must save him work but must clearly increase his well-being. If any device or change merely increases the wealth of someone else (a tax collector or a landlord for example), the farmer seldom will adopt the new technology.

Thirdly, since, at first, the new technology almost invariably costs more than the old, the user must have or be able to get the capital to buy and use the newer devices and methods.

Of these conditions for technological change, only the cumulative nature of the knowledge can be shown by the objects. Even here, however, missing objects make it possible to present only the most obvious changes, and then not all of them. Still, seeing the things once used—no matter how crude or how few—can sometimes help us understand the way changes took place. Also, this knowledge sometimes can help us guess how other changes will take place.


Bridgeport's Gothic Ornament: The Harral-Wheeler House
Anne Castrodale Golovin
27 pages, 21 figures
1972 (Date of Issue: 18 October 1972)
Number 18, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
DOI: 10.5479/si.00810258.18.1
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Abstract

Imposing dwellings in the Gothic Revival style were among the most dramatic symbols of affluence in mid-nineteenth-century America. With the rise of industrialization in this period, an increasing number of men from humble beginnings attained wealth and prominence. It was important to them as well as to gentlemen of established means that their dwellings reflect an elevated social standing. The Harral-Wheeler residence in Bridgeport, Connecticut, was an eloquent proclamation of the success of its owners and the excellence of the architect Alexander Jackson Davis. Although the house no longer stands, one room, a selection of furniture, original architectural designs, architectural fragments, and other supporting drawings and photographs are now in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution. These remnants of Bridgeport's Gothic “ornament” serve as the basis for this study.


Political Cartoons in the 1848 Election Campaign
Anne Marie Serio
21 pages, 9 figures
1972 (Date of Issue: 18 October 1972)
Number 14, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
DOI: 10.5479/si.00810258.14.1
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The Harry T. Peters “America On Stone” Lithography Collection in the Smithsonian Institution contains over 150 lithographed election cartoons and caricatures. These cartoons, dating from the mid-nineteenth century before newspapers carried editorial cartoons, are directly tied to the events of the time and reflect the opinions of the general public as well as of those who drew and published them. Nine of these cartoons were issued during the election of 1848. This study discusses these cartoons and their interrelationship with the personalities and issues of the campaign. These cartoons add a further dimension to the history of the election.


Keyed Bugles in the United States
Robert E. Eliason
44 pages, 22 figures
1972 (Date of Issue: 29 November 1972)
Number 19, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
DOI: 10.5479/si.00810258.19.1
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Keyed bugles are soprano brass instruments with side holes and keys like a clarinet or saxophone. They flourished for several decades after 1810 when the Royal Kent Bugle was patented, and before valved instruments became popular. Their melodic ability made possible the first brass bands in the United States, and these instruments remained popular in this country until the Civil War. During the 1840s and 1850s, many excellent players including the famous Ned Kendall amazed their listeners with intricate solos played on the bugle. Fine examples of American bugles with as many as 12 keys survive in several collections.


Displaying 11 - 20 from the 59 total records