Posts Tagged ‘Staff pick’


When Trains Moved the Goods

   Posted by: rring    in Uncategorized

[Posted by Sally Dickinson, Associate Curator]

Today while I was cataloging, two 19th century books about railroads crossed my desk.  The first was a hefty tome called Rand McNally & Co.’s Enlarged Business Atlas and Shippers’ Guide (1890).  It has color maps of all the states, Canada, South and Central America showing all existing railroad lines.  It also shows which express companies use which lines.  Maps of all other countries are thrown in for “ready reference” as well as maps of major cities and locations of railroad stations and post offices.   It is the 24th edition, which clues us into the fact that this atlas was highly useful to any shipping business in the western hemisphere.  It also has full returns of the 1890 census.  This comprehensive approach must have been as helpful in the 1890’s as the web is for us today.  And for us it is a snapshot into the business of shipping and the importance of railroads in the 1890’s.

The 2nd book on railroads covering an earlier period, Railway Economy (1850), gets a full description in the Bibliphiles’ Lair (see  Together the books give us a sense of what land transportation was like before the age of cars and air transportation.


Stunning Native American Portraits

In the process of cataloging a collection of over-sized volumes (folios) from the Watkinson Library I have discovered several items of interest.  Because of their size many folios have remarkable illustrations or maps.  Pictured here is a portrait from McKenney and Hall’s History of the Indian Tribes of North America, published in Philadelphia, 1837-1844. This 3 volume set contains 120 colored lithograph portraits copied after paintings by Charles Bird King in the Indian Gallery of the U.S. War Department.   When noteworthy Indians visited Washington it became the custom to have their portraits painted.  Thomas McKenney was the superintendent of Indian Affairs at the time and got to know some of the people of the native nations.  The book also contains biographical sketches by McKenney and a history of the tribes by James Hall.

–Sally Dickinson, Special Collections Librarian, Watkinson Library

[NB:  Most of the original portraits were destroyed in a fire at the Smithsonian in 1865, so the set is a vital historical record.  –R. Ring, Head Curator].