Search form

Blog Icon Facebook Icon Twitter Icon Tumblr Icon Instagram Icon Flickr Icon YouTube Icon RSS Icon Email Icon

Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press Smithsonian Institution Libraries
Displaying 1 - 10 from the 59 total records
Previous | Next 10

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
Go to : Article in digital repository (repository url is stable, and repository may include .pdf of the article and additional related files)
Display: PDF Hi-Res (20,234 kb) | PDF Lo-Res (3,916 kb) | Plain Text |
Full Description (from SIRIS)

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.


Alfred, the First Continental Flagship 1775-1778
John J. McCusker
19 pages, 13 figures, 1 table
1973 (Date of Issue: 25 June 1973)
Number 20, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
DOI: 10.5479/si.00810258.20.1
Go to : Article in digital repository (repository url is stable, and repository may include .pdf of the article and additional related files)
Display: PDF Hi-Res (8,535 kb) | PDF Lo-Res (2,852 kb) | Plain Text |
Full Description (from SIRIS)

Abstract

Alfred, as one of the first ships of the Continental Navy of the United Colonies, as the flagship of the first American fleet, as the first ship to hoist the Grand Union Flag of the United Colonies, and the first command ship of an American amphibious invasion of enemy territory, played no small role in the winning of independence for the United States. Her place is secure in our national heritage.


American Single Locomotives and the “Pioneer”
John H. White, Jr.
50 pages, 52 figures, 2 tables
1973 (Date of Issue: 19 September 1973)
Number 25, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
DOI: 10.5479/si.00810258.25.1
Go to : Article in digital repository (repository url is stable, and repository may include .pdf of the article and additional related files)
Display: PDF Hi-Res (20,797 kb) | PDF Lo-Res (5,237 kb) | Plain Text |
Full Description (from SIRIS)

Abstract

In the mid-nineteenth century there was a renewed interest in the light, single-axle locomotives which were proving so very successful for passenger traffic. These engines were built in limited number by nearly every well-known maker, and among the few remaining is the six-wheel Pioneer, on display in the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of History and Technology. This locomotive is a true representation of a light passenger locomotive of 1851 and a historic relic of the mid-nineteenth century.


The Art Crusade: An Analysis of American Drawing Manuals, 1820-1860
Peter C. Marzio
94 pages, 47 figures
1976 (Date of Issue: 27 October 1976)
Number 34, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
DOI: 10.5479/si.00810258.34.1
Go to : Article in digital repository (repository url is stable, and repository may include .pdf of the article and additional related files)
Display: PDF Hi-Res (37,513 kb) | PDF Lo-Res (5,510 kb) | Plain Text |
Full Description (from SIRIS)

Abstract

Between 1820 and 1860 approximately 145 popular drawing manuals were published in the United States. Authored by painters, printers, and educators the drawing books were aimed at the general public. Based on the democratic ideal that “anyone who can learn to write can learn to draw,” the manuals followed a highly structured system of drawing based on the theory that lines were the essence of form. The aesthetic system of Sir Joshua Reynolds often served as the principal artistic guideline, while the pedagogy of Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi was used as a tool for making “drawing” part of a general approach to education.

Although the American drawing books are often seen as part of the general social effort to democratize art, their appeal went beyond art students to engineers, scientists, and illustrators. Drawing was considered a general skill, such as writing, which could be applied to numerous aspects of life.

The leaders of the amorphous art crusade were John Rubens Smith, John Gadsby Chapman, and Rembrandt Peale. Each was considered a fine painter and draughtsman, classical in approach and somewhat out of step with the advanced aesthetic movements of the pre-Civil War years. Their efforts formed a loose but intelligible approach to art promotion. But by 1860 their crusade disintegrated: new drawing theories popularized by the English writer, John Ruskin, placed shading and mass above line in the definition of form; specialization in art, in science, in education, and in mechanical drawing warred against the general approach of the art crusade; new theories of child development emphasized more subtle and open methods of learning that countered the rigid, formula approach of the drawing books; and finally, the common school movement of the post-1860 period failed to incorporate the system envisioned by Smith, Peale, and Chapman into the general curriculum.

The drawing books remain important social and artistic documents. They carried a body of ideas about art and its place in American society that guided the work of numerous painters, educators, and promoters of high culture. They touch many present-day disciplines from the history of art to the history of science.


Bloodletting Instruments in the National Museum of History and Technology
Audrey Davis and Toby Appel
103 pages, 124 figures
1979 (Date of Issue: 14 December 1979)
Number 41, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
DOI: 10.5479/si.00810258.41.1
Go to : Article in digital repository (repository url is stable, and repository may include .pdf of the article and additional related files)
Display: PDF Hi-Res (41,393 kb) | PDF Lo-Res (8,224 kb) | Plain Text |
Full Description (from SIRIS)

Abstract

Supported by variety of instruments, bloodletting became a recommended practice in antiquity and remained an accepted treatment for millenia. Punctuated by controversies over the amount of blood to take, the time to abstract it, and the areas from which to remove it, bloodletters employed a wide range of instruments. All the major types of equipment and many variations are represented in this study of the collection in the National Museum of History and Technology.


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
Go to : Article in digital repository (repository url is stable, and repository may include .pdf of the article and additional related files)
Display: PDF Hi-Res (8,889 kb) | PDF Lo-Res (2,464 kb) | Plain Text |
Full Description (from SIRIS)

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.


A Brief History of Geomagnetism and a Catalog of the Collections of the National Museum of American History
Robert P. Multhauf and Gregory Good
87 pages, 75 figures
1987 (Date of Issue: 2 April 1987)
Number 48, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
DOI: 10.5479/si.00810258.48.1
Go to : Article in digital repository (repository url is stable, and repository may include .pdf of the article and additional related files)
Display: PDF Hi-Res (23,432 kb) | PDF Lo-Res (6,904 kb) | Plain Text |
Full Description (from SIRIS)

Abstract

Geomagnetism (also known as terrestrial magnetism) is the scientific study of the earth from the point of view of its magnetic properties. The alignment of a natural or artificial magnet in a north-south direction is only the best known of these. The discovery of other properties, such as the separation of the magnetic poles from the geographic poles of the earth and the “dip” of the needle in arctic (and antarctic) latitudes, interested the scientifically inclined as early as Columbus.

Mariners, who had reason to be most interested in the compass, were prominent in the study into the 18th century. But as more and more magnetic peculiarities were discovered—the apparent movement of the poles, the changes in direction, dip, and magnetic strength from year to year and even from day to day, and magnetic irregularities apparently connected with other atmospheric phenomena—the aurora borealis—the subject was taken over by the scientists. While Alexander von Humboldt, famous as a scientific traveler in the early 19th century, promoted world-wide measurement of geomagnetic phenomena, less adventurous scientists occupied themselves with the development of more sensitive instruments and more sophisticated methods. Geomagnetism attracted the attention of such leading scientists of the 19th century as John Herschel and C. F. Gauss.

One consequence was that this speciality became prominent in the establishment of international cooperation in science. In nations, such as the United States and Russia, that were both geographically large and underdeveloped, the study of geomagnetism assumed unusual importance as a kind of training ground for scientists. As time passed, however, it became clear that the numerous scientific questions posed by the subject were not to be easily answered. Geomagnetism consequently tended in the later 19th century to be absorbed by meteorology, another science whose practitioners were accustomed to continuous and tedious measurement with little scientific consequence. Geomagnetic measurements also joined gravity measurements as conventional duties of the geodetic surveyor. Most interesting, in the later 19th century, was the development of instruments capable of making different measurements simultaneously under difficult conditions, and often automatically.

In the first half of the 20th century geomagnetism became one of the topics handsomely supported by the new Carnegie Institution of Washington (which was seeking “neglected” sectors of science that were also of international interest). Then, as it was found that magnetic “anomalies” were exhibited by petroleum bearing land, the subject attracted unprecedented material support. After a generation it began at last to seem significant to science at large, in its role in the spectacular development of “plate tectonics.” Our collection and this history end at this point.


Catalog of Meteorological Instruments in the Museum of History and Technology
W. E. Knowles Middleton
128 pages, 124 figures
1969 (Date of Issue: 4 August 1969)
Number 2, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
DOI: 10.5479/si.00810258.2.1
Go to : Article in digital repository (repository url is stable, and repository may include .pdf of the article and additional related files)
Display: PDF Hi-Res (40,936 kb) | PDF Lo-Res (7,918 kb) | Plain Text |
Full Description (from SIRIS)

Abstract

This catalog contains a short summary of the history of each type of instrument, accompanied by descriptions of the more interesting or important specimens in the collection, introduced at appropriate places, but set apart typographically so that the narrative can easily be read through by itself if the reader prefers to do this. At the end of each chapter will be found a list of the other instruments in the Museum that have not been discussed in the text. While most of the instruments described are in the collections of the Museum of History and Technology (MHT), a few are in the collections of the National Air and Space Museum (NASM). The Museum of History and Technology is naturally rich in apparatus of American origin, and an attempt has been made to cover such specimens in some detail without overemphasizing their importance in the history of meteorological instrumentation. It is thought that the typographical arrangement will contribute to this end.


The Constellation Question
Howard I. Chapelle and Leon D. Polland
152 pages, 53 figures, 1 table
1970 (Date of Issue: 30 October 1970)
Number 5, Smithsonian Studies in History and Technology
DOI: 10.5479/si.00810258.5.1
Go to : Article in digital repository (repository url is stable, and repository may include .pdf of the article and additional related files)
Display: PDF Hi-Res (47,351 kb) | PDF Lo-Res (7,511 kb) | Plain Text |
Full Description (from SIRIS)

Abstract

This unusual volume has an unusual history. It began as a monograph by Mr. Howard I. Chapelle—essentially the present Part 1—and as a paper by Mr. Leon D. Polland—presented before sections of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers on 7 May 1966—which forms the basis for the rebuttal contained in Parts 2 and 3. Mr. Chapelle's manuscript was accepted for publication by the Smithsonian Institution Press in the spring of 1968. In this manuscript Mr. Chapelle, who is as straightforward as he is learned, set forth his reasons for questioning the authenticity of the present day Constellation. When, in July 1968, a Baltimore newspaper announced the forthcoming publication under the headline “Constellation Now Under Fire From Smithsonian Historian,” the Institution began to hear from those who disagreed with Mr. Chapelle. Some of our correspondents, misunderstanding the nature of the Smithsonian, argued that publication of Mr. Chapelle's manuscript by the Smithsonian Institution Press would constitute official government sponsorship of the author's conclusions. Many urged us to abandon the whole project on the grounds that publication would constitute a kind of desecration of a precious national shrine.

Faced with these suggestions, which occasionally seemed almost to be demands, the Institution found itself in somewhat of a dilemma. Since the Smithsonian Institution Press has always been a publisher of scholarly manuscripts, more akin to a university press than to a government publication office, its standards and procedures are those appropriate to any scholarly publisher. Given Mr. Chapelle's towering reputation in his field, and given the enthusiastic reports of the outside scholars to whom his manuscript was referred, the Press felt an obligation to stick by its original decision. In reaffirming our determination to proceed with Mr. Chapelle's manuscript, we stated that: “In publishing it, the Institution certainly does not presume to guarantee the correctness of everything in the manuscript. The Institution does, however, believe that the manuscript represents a serious contribution to scholarship, that it deserves to be made available to interested scholars and laymen, and that its reception by other competent authorities in the field over the years will be the best test of its validity.”

On the other hand, we recognized that the debate between Mr. Chapelle and Mr. Polland—highly technical though it may be—was not quite the same as a dispute between scholars about, say, the interpretation of a Babylonian text. Various agencies of the federal government and of the State of Maryland had been involved in the restoration of the ship; numerous private citizens had contributed their time and money to the restoration; and the ship herself had indeed become a national historic landmark. In view of all this, it seemed to us that the mere publication of Mr. Chapelle's controversial manuscript might not adequately discharge the Institution's obligation.

It was in this context that we began discussions with the Constellation Restoration Committee, and particularly with its Chairman, Mr. Gordon M. F. Stick. To our great delight, we learned that the Committee shared our concern for the freedom of scholarly expression and was not unalterably opposed to the publication of Mr. Chapelle's manuscript. Rather, the Committee urged that it be given an opportunity to review the manuscript and to provide a rebuttal for publication along with it. Mr. Polland, Technical Advisor and Chief of Construction and Repair for the Constellation Project, was chosen to prepare the rebuttal. With Mr. Chapelle's gracious consent to the delay this necessarily involved, and with the Committee's agreement that his manuscript would be subjected to the same rigorous standards that are applied to all Smithsonian Institution Press publications, the present volume was born.

If I may be permitted a personal observation, I would say that as a layman I find the question of whether today's Constellation is the original Constellation by no means the only interesting part of this book. I recall the laconic words of Captain Joshua Slocum (or his ghostwriter) as he described the rebuilding of the extraordinary sloop Spray in Sailing Alone Around the World: “Now, it is a law in Lloyd's that the Jane repaired all out of the old until she is entirely new is still the Jane. The Spray changed her being so gradually that it was hard to say at what point the old died or new took birth, and was no matter.” As a layman, I find this book fascinating in a number of respects quite different from the question which it sets out to discuss. It is a privilege and a pleasure to watch two scholars as erudite as Mr. Chapelle and Mr. Polland set out to prove their respective sides of so complex a controversy. In the process, one learns an enormous amount about shipbuilding techniques, about naval architecture, and even about government procurement procedures through the centuries. It is conceivable that some readers may finish the book and still be unable to answer The Constellation Question. But I venture to say that they will agree with me that their time has been well spent.

Charles Blitzer

Assistant Secretary

for History and Art

Smithsonian Institution

February 1970


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
Go to : Article in digital repository (repository url is stable, and repository may include .pdf of the article and additional related files)
Display: PDF Hi-Res (12,896 kb) | PDF Lo-Res (1,719 kb) | Plain Text |
Full Description (from SIRIS)

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.


Displaying 1 - 10 from the 59 total records

Previous | Next 10