Smithsonian Collections Blog

Highlighting the hidden treasures from over 2 million collections

Collections Search Center

Monday, July 14, 2014


Fifth Annual All-Star Game program, 1937.
Eleanor Linkous Washington, D.C. Sports Memorabilia
Collection, 1925-1956, Archives Center,
National Museum of American History

It has been 45 years since the city of Washington, D.C. hosted Major League Baseball’s annual mid-summer classic, the All-Star Game.  With a recently built stadium to show off, Washington fans want their turn.  Unfortunately, several other cities also want the All Star Game and some of them have new ballparks too, including Cincinnati (which will host in 2015), Philadelphia, Miami and San Diego.  It might be several years before Washington hosts, but I hope that the city’s 33 years without baseball will count for something to baseball’s selection committee, possibly as early as 2017.  Washington has hosted the All-Star Game four times, twice (1937 and 1956) at Griffith Stadium and twice (1962 and 1969) at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.  The Archives Center is fortunate to have the programs from two of these games, those of 1937 and 1956.  They were donated to us by SI volunteer Eleanor Linkous.
The 1937 program features President Franklin Roosevelt on the cover, throwing out the first pitch, a ceremonial baseball tradition begun by President Taft in 1910 on that season’s Opening Day.  1937’s All-Star game was the first attended by a president.

The game’s roster on both sides contained an impressive number of future Hall of Famers.  For the American League, this included both Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig in one of the only two years their careers as Yankees overlapped.  Also in the game were Joe Cronin and Jimmie Foxx of the Red Sox, and Charlie Gehringer of the Tigers.  For the visiting National League, the list was just as impressive, including starting pitcher Dizzy Dean and Ducky Medwick of the Cardinals, Carl Hubbell and Mel Ott of the Giants, and Paul Waner and Arky Vaughan from the Pirates.  Ironically, even though the home town Washington Senators had three members of its team elected to the All Star Game, Yankee manager Joe McCarthy, who was managing the game for the American League, never put any of them in to play.  Instead, the game was dominated by his Yankees.  The American League won the game 8-3.
Clark C. Griffith Memorial All-Star Game program.
Eleanor Linkous Washington, D.C. Sports Memorabilia
Collection, 1925-1956, Archives Center,
National Museum of American History. 
The 1956 program featured an image of “the Old Fox,” Clark Griffith, a former player and owner of the Senators, who had died the previous autumn.  The game was dedicated to him.  Only five years later, his son would relocate his beloved team to the Twin Cities.
Like 19 years earlier, the 1956 All-Star Game was full of future Hall of Famers.  For the American League, there were sluggers Ted Williams of the Red Sox, Al Kaline of the Tigers, and Mickey Mantle of the Yankees.  The National League fielded a team that included Stan Musial from the Cardinals, Willie Mays of the Giants and Hank Aaron of the Braves.  Pitchers in the game included the Braves’ Warren Spahn for the National League and the Yankees’ Whitey Ford for the American League.  The result was quite different from that of the game 19 years earlier, when the Yankee sluggers had dominated.  This time it was the National League dominating, with help from home runs by Mays and Musial.  The final score was 7-3. 
This year’s All-Star Game will, almost certainly, feature some future Hall of Famers.  It is fun to speculate which players on this year’s ballot will one day be enshrined in Cooperstown.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

“Only YOU can prevent forest fires!” Smokey Bear Arrives at the National Zoo

Statue of Smokey Bear in Smokey Bear Park in International Falls, Minnesota, sculpted by Gordon Shumaker, 1954, Smithsonian Art Inventories Catalog #IAS MN000034
Sixty-four years ago, in June of 1950, a tiny singed bear cub arrived at the National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C., having lost its mother and survived a forest fire in the Lincoln National Forest near Capitan, New Mexico.  Named Smokey Bear, he had been rescued and nursed back to health by Forest Service staff to become the living symbol of fire prevention.  Although most people believe Smokey Bear came into existence with the cub, he had actually been a fire prevention ad campaign for the Forest Service for six years prior to that. However it was the tiny cub, found clinging to a tree, who breathed life into the forest fire campaign and grew to be a nationally known symbol who taught generations of children to be careful while enjoying the national forests.

In television and radio ads, Smokey Bear admonished us, “Only YOU can prevent forest fires!” The Forest Service erected an exhibit outside his enclosure at the zoo and he was visited by thousands of families every year.  A popular jingle added the extra “the” in Smokey the Bear, but both are used interchangeably. He even had his own postage stamp.

Smokey Bear 20 cent postage stamp from 1984 shows Smokey the icon and Smokey the cub clinging to a burned tree.  National Postal Museum, #1985.0796.3181.
Unfortunately, the original Smokey lacked the charisma one might want in such an icon, and was, indeed, a bit cranky and solitary.

The original Smokey Bear frolicking in a pool at the National Zoological Park in the 1950s, photograph by Francine Schroeder.  Smithsonian Institution Archives, negative #92-3559. 
But given his difficult early months, it was not surprising he was not the cheeriest of fellows.   He never produced off-spring with with mate, Goldie, and he was retired in May of 1975.

He was replaced with Smokey Bear II for the next fifteen years, but the exhibit was closed when Smokey II was retired. 

Smokey Bear II enjoying the honey and berries that are dispensed from his new automated dispensing tree. National Zoological Park staffers put together the "honey tree" in Smokey’s exhibit area in the summer of 1984. The national symbol of forest-fire prevention turned 40 that year. The Cooperative Forest Fire Prevention Program funded the construction, photograph by Jesse Cohen. Smithsonian Institution Archives, negative #95-1209. 

Smokey I passed away in 1976 and his remains were returned to Capitan to rest beneath a stone marker in Smokey Bear Historical State Park.

I have a special fondness for Smokey Bear.  When I was five years old in 1953, I fell down while trying to fly a kite and I broke my arm.  After taking me to the doctor to have the arm set in a cast, my father consoled me by taking me to the little shop full of toys in my home town of Rochelle Park, New Jersey.  I did not hesitate for a moment and picked the little stuffed bear with a shovel, hat, badge, Smokey belt, and Forest Service uniform.  Smokey was my constant companion for many, many years!  This image on Pinterest is most like mine, although it lacks the shovel.  I was rarely seen without him, no matter how much my older sisters teased me, and never went to sleep without him at my side.

The Forest Service is planning to relaunch the Smokey Bear campaign for a 21st century audience, and I suspect he will snuggle with many more little children for generations to come and hopefully reinvigorate the message to care for our national forests.

Pamela M. Henson
Institutional History Division
Smithsonian Institution Archives

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Roses for Hershey

Milton Hershey did more than just make chocolate, the famed chocolatier founded the Hershey Rose Gardens. The idea to establish a rose garden arose out of conversations with J. Horace McFarland, an active member of the American Rose Society and a national spokesperson for the City Beautiful Movement. McFarland had hoped to convince Hershey to create a National Rose Garden in D.C. Ultimately, Hershey went on to construct the rose garden in Hershey, Pennsylvania, the town of his chocolate factory and the famed Hotel Hershey, instead of in the nation’s capital.

Hershey Rose Gardens.  Hershey, PA. (AAG# PA072001)
Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, J. Horace McFarland Collection
Hershey Rose Gardens, which opened to the public in June of 1937, was dedicated in September 1938 by the American Rose Society with J. Horace McFarland attending the dedication. The gardens have expanded from a three and a half acre rose garden to a twenty three acre botanical garden and arboretum that is a popular destination for many.

Hershey Rose Gardens.  Hershey, PA. (AAG# PA072003)
Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, J. Horace McFarland Collection
See more early photographs of Hershey Rose Gardens in the J. Horace McFarland Collection housed at the Archives of American Gardens.

For more information about the development of the Hershey Gardens see the Hershey Community Archives online.

Jessica Brode
2014 Summer Intern 
Archives of American Gardens 

Monday, June 30, 2014

ARCHIVES PRIDE: LGBT-Related Collections at the Archives Center, National Museum of American History

President Obama has proclaimed June 2014 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, and many cities and towns throughout the United States will celebrate LGBT Pride.  An outgrowth of the gay rights movement, the creation of Pride was sparked by the Stonewall riots in June 1969.  The first Pride parade was held in New York City in June 1970.

Promotional advertisement for DC Cowboys with photographs by Julian Vankim, 1994-2012: front and verso shown.
From the DC Cowboys Dance Company Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Smithsonian secretary Wayne Clough, in his recent Message from the Secretary, stated in part, “We continue to strengthen our collections so that we may more fully present LBGT contributions to American history, art, science, and culture, and be a welcoming resource to scholars studying LGBT contributions to American society.”  The secretary ended his message affirming, “The LGBT story is an important part of the American experience, and the Smithsonian is committed to making sure that story is told.”

The Archives Center at the National Museum of American History is actively collecting records that tell those stories.  Recently the Archives Center received a donation of the DC Cowboys Dance Company Records, an all-male, gay, non-profit dance company based in Washington, D.C. that was active from 1994-2012. They performed nationally and internationally, "celebrating diversity through dance." Typical performance venues included: Pride Festivals, the Gay Rodeo circuit, and charity events for numerous local and national charities.  The Cowboys also performed on: NBC’s America's Got Talent (2008); Closing Ceremonies of the Gay Games VII at Wrigley Field in Chicago (2006); The Sziget Festival, Budapest, Hungary (2009–2012); ITV’s Dales’ Great Getaway, London, England (2012), and RTE’s The Podge and Rodge show, Dublin, Ireland (2010).  The collection includes correspondence, advertisement, financial records, photographs, and ephemera.

The DC Cowboys Dance Records join over 68 cubic feet of LGBT-related collections currently held by the Archives Center.  The Archives Center’s growing LGBT collections include: The Shamrock Bar: Photographs and Interviews by Carol Burch-Brown; John-Manuel Andriote VICTORY DEFFERRED Collection; Archives Center Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Collection; the Joan E. Biren Queer Film Museum Collection; and the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network Records.  For more information visit the Archives Center website. 

Franklin A. Robinson, Jr., Archives Specialist 
Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Friday, June 27, 2014

In the Good Old Watermelon Time

Pollock family eating watermelon in Arizona, ca. 1914 / unidentified photographer. Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Now that summer is fully upon us, it seemed a good time to share this photograph which has long been a staff favorite here at the Archives of American Art. Not only is it seasonally appropriate (I could go for a 2-foot long slice of watermelon right about now) and a charming family portrait, but it shows the softer side of one of America's most influential artists, Jackson Pollock. Perhaps you didn't recognize him right away since he was only a toddler when this photo was taken, but he is the smallest of the tow-headed youngsters in this picture, standing in the center and struggling to hold up that watermelon that is almost as big as he is. Who knows, perhaps the patterns created by the dribbling of watermelon juice in the dirt sowed some inspiration in him that would later influence his Abstract Expressionist style...

Bettina Smith, Digital Projects Librarian
Archives of American Art

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Under the Privilege of the Fifth Amendment

“I don’t think I have ever felt so damned alone as on that day” 
 Lee Hays on his experience testifying before the House of Un-American Activities Committee

Subpoena received by Hays, 1955. Lee Hays Papers.
Hays_02_02_055_001. Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections
In 1955, two members of The Weavers, (a folk group comprised of Pete Seeger, Lee Hays, Fred Hellerman, and Ronnie Gilbert) were called to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). HUAC was formed in 1938 in order to discover Nazis within the states, however, it became infamous during the Cold War for interrogating private citizens suspected of having Communist ties.

Lee Hays and Pete Seeger had been identified as Communists by an FBI informant.  During this time, being identified as a Communist could be detrimental to one's livelihood. In the case of Lee Hays it led to a commercial blacklisting that would cast a shadow over the next several decades of his career.  The Weavers and Lee Hays were responsible for penning hits in support of the working class such as "Roll the Union On" and "If I Had a Hammer".  

Pete Seeger and Lee Hays. Photograph by Joe Thompson. Lee Hays Papers,
Hays_02_073_j016. Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections.
Hays, along with Seeger, founded People’s Songs which was "organized to create, promote and distribute songs of labor and the American people."  Unfortunately, these politically charged songs came to be at the height of McCarthyism.  That is, when Senator Joseph McCarthy encouraged Americans to turn in their neighbors, friends, and family on suspicions of being a Communist.  In retrospect, McCarthyism has been seen as invasive, a witch-hunt, and in a twist of irony, distinctly un-American.

On August 16, 1955 best-selling folksinger Lee Hays appeared before HUAC to defend his political beliefs. 

What follows is a short selection from his trial transcript:

Mr. Tavenner: What I am trying to get at, Mr. Hays, is to learn to what extent the Communist Party has used you in its program to advance the cause of the Communist Party in this country.
Mr. Hays: I don’t know what you mean, sir, by the use of the word ‘used’.
Mr. Tavenner: I mean used in the sense that you contributed your talent and your services, and your time, and your effort knowingly to assist the Communist Party in the field of your talent.
Mr. Hays: You are asking questions which to me are highly argumentative and debatable, and I don’t propose to get into that debate and argument because it is an area that deals with associations and beliefs and so I do decline to answer that under the reasons stated.
Chairman Walter: You decline to answer because of the fifth amendment, is that right?
Mr. Hays: Under the privilege of the fifth amendment.

Lee Hays, throughout his trial, declined to answer any questions that would identify anyone as being a communist. In personal correspondence, Hays has described the experience as being harrowing.  He found it immoral and un-American to provide information on others' personal and political beliefs; even if they were not Communists or sympathizers.

Letter of condemnation, 1955. Lee Hays Papers,
 Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections.
Letter of Support, 1955. Lee Hays Papers, Hays_02_02_054_015.
Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections.

Hays was a popular enough figure in 1955 that the public had many opinions regarding his trial.  Contained in the Lee Hays Papers are letters of support and condemnation that Hays received immediately following his appearance before HUAC.  Following the trial, Hays and Seeger were placed on a commercial blacklist which only allowed them to find work in underground circles. The blacklisting lasted into the late 60's and once it was lifted, Hays went on to enjoy several reunions with The Weavers.

Nichole Procopenko

Thursday, June 19, 2014

On Becoming a National Museum – 50th Anniversary of the National Museum of African Art

NMAfA Pavilion , 1987, by Jeff Tinsley, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 87-7812-36.

The National Museum of African Art (NMAfA) is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Although it did not join the Smithsonian until 1979 and move to its present home in 1987, it was established in 1964 as a private museum at the initiative of Warren Robbins.  These images look back at the museum in the years since it joined the Smithsonian Institution.

Six children, visiting the National Museum of African Art, listen to Amina Dickerson, program director, at the museum in 1978, photographer unknown, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 96-1008.
 At the National Museum of African Art, Legani Kaunda, an artist-in-residence, is at work sculpting from wood a long pipe with a hinged bottom for the tobacco, 1980, by Jeffrey Ploskonka, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 80-16887-37.

Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, Vice President George Bush, and Secretary S. Dillon Ripley at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Quadrangle Complex, June 21, 1983. The complex includes the National Museum of African Art, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, and the S. Dillon Ripley Center, photographer unknown, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 83-6885.12.  

The National Museum of African Art under construction. The photograph shows workers adding copper covering on the domes and the pink granite on the sides of the building. The hexagonal patio in the foreground, still under construction, will be the centerpiece of an Islamic garden with a waterfall, central water jet and seating walls shaded by eight hawthorn trees, 1986, by Jeff Tinsley, Smithsonian Institution Archives, sia85-5103-16.

Beatrice Birra dressed in traditional African clothing tells stories to an audience of children at the National Museum of African Art, July 15, 2005, by Anthony Cross, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 2005-22813.

Pamela Henson, Smithsonian Institution Archives