Turning the Book Wheel
A tumblr of semi-random stuff from the stacks of the Smithsonian Libraries
30 of September, 2014

That’s a good glyptodon!

Image from Catalogue of casts of fossils, from the principal museums of Europe and America, with short descriptions and illustrations (1866)

Despite the dinosaur-like appearance of it’s fossil skeleton, glyptodon was a relative of the modern armadillo that lived in the Pleistocene and became extinct around 10,000 years ago.

Posted 20 hours ago
Tags:  #gifs  #glyptodon  #prehistoric mammals  #fossil  #armadillo

184 notes
29 of September, 2014

Much has been written upon the effects of Coffee on the constitution, which by some are considered as highly salutary, and by others as very injurious. There is no possibility of reconciling accounts to contrary; but doubtless the effects are various upon different persons.

Curtis’ botanical magazine. v. 31-32 (1810)

Posted 1 day ago
Tags:  #coffee day  #coffea arabica  #coffee!  #BHL  #scientific illustration  #Botany  #international coffee day

232 notes
29 of September, 2014


The Virtue and Use of Coffee with regard to the Plague and other Infectious Distempers

Bradley said he could give up anytime he wanted, didn’t even like the taste. Then wrote this whole text in ten minutes after downing twelve cups before passing out in Mrs. Miggins’ pie shop. True Story.

Note: Our legal team (Bob) would like me to make clear this is not a true story.

Posted 1 day ago
Tags:  #reblog  #coffee  #international coffee day  #guildhall library  #london  #rare books

442 notes
29 of September, 2014

Thanks to awomanofwonder for catching my typo in Corinne Roosevelt Robinson’s name in last week’s post - fixed! (better late than never?)


Posted 1 day ago
Tags:  #oops  #typo

12 notes
26 of September, 2014

Corinne Roosevelt Robinson was born Sept. 27, 1861 - the younger sister of future president Theodore Roosevelt. In 1921 she wrote a book about her brother Teddy, who was quite the naturalist, with his own theoretical take on Darwinian Theory, as illustrated in letters written in the early 1870s. 

Above, he illustrates his own evolution from a giraffe. Or is it that the giraffe evolved from a “Tedie”?

Posted 4 days ago
Tags:  #teddy roosevelt  #Theodore Roosevelt  #darwin  #animation  #gif  #letters  #presidents  #1870s  #WANA  #we are no asses  #Roosevelts  #corinne roosevelt

138 notes
25 of September, 2014

Some days just call for unicorns and rainbows. Being one of those days, the only rainbow I could find was a rainbow slug snail. 

Unicorns from Johnston’s Historiae naturalis de quadrupetibus libri  
Rainbow snail from Cuvier’s Les mollusques : décrits et figurés d’après la classification

Posted 5 days ago
Tags:  #unicorn  #rainbow  #snail  #slug  #it's raining here if you can't guess  #BHL

192 notes
24 of September, 2014

Yesterday Dr. Wayne Clough, Secretary of the Smithsonian, dropped by the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History!
Here he is with our colleague Daria Wingreen-Mason looking at ‘The Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands’ by Mark Catesby (1754). 

Posted 6 days ago
Tags:  #IFTTT  #Catesby  #rare books  #Smithsonian  #Secretary Clough  #Natural History  #Carolina  #Bahamas

38 notes
23 of September, 2014



This awesome poster is a free download from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and it’s especially great considering this year’s focus on comics and graphic novels that have been challenged.

Share widely, friends!

(via detroitlib)

Posted 1 week ago
Tags:  #banned books week  #CBLDF  #reblog

1,521 notes
23 of September, 2014

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere of our little planet, today is the Autumn Equinox (if not…happy Spring!)
To celebrate the coming of harvest season, here are some (slightly corn-y) images from our seed and nursery catalogs collection

Posted 1 week ago
Tags:  #Harvest  #autumn equinox  #Autumn  #Fall  #Corn  #farming  #vegetables  #Minnesota King Corn

308 notes
22 of September, 2014

Sébastien Vauban, a French military engineer, wrote this manuscript on defending against sieges around the year 1700. 300 hundred years later, we’re hoping some canny folks can help us transcribe it and uncover his secrets. Check out the Smithsonian Transcription Center to see how you can help.

Posted 1 week ago
Tags:  #IFTTT  #millitary history  #engineering  #manuscript monday  #Transcription

100 notes
19 of September, 2014

Arrrr, guess what day it be?

From A general history of the pyrates, from their first rise and settlement in the Island of Providence, to the present time. With the remarkable actions and adventures of the two female pyrates Mary Read and Anne Bonny … (1724)

Posted 1 week ago
Tags:  #pirates  #talk like a pirate day  #Blackbeard  #Mary Read  #Anne Bonny  #typography  #18th Century

946 notes
18 of September, 2014

Gross insect fact o’ the day: the Cicada-killer wasp

A female flies out and inspects trees until she finds a cicada. After she stings it, the cicada becomes paralyzed within one minute. The wasp then grasps the base of the wings of the cicada with her middle legs, and flies with the cicada in an upside-down position back to her burrow. ….
The cicada killer’s venom preserves the cicada, which will live in a paralyzed state twice as long as an unstung, unfed cicada. Within two weeks the [wasp] larvae have eaten the paralyzed cicadas and grown into prepupae, the form in which they will spend the winter.

Description of Sphecius speciousus behavior from eol.org

Image from Field book of insects, with special reference to those of the Northeast United States….(Lutz, 1918)

Posted 1 week ago
Tags:  #parasitic wasp  #cicada killer  #wasp  #insects  #parasites  #BHL

131 notes
17 of September, 2014

About a year ago, we posted a gif of hover whales. This, however, was our original creation—at the time too big for Tumblr but now able to be posted.

from Suggestions to the keepers of the U.S. life-saving stations, light-houses, and light-ships; and to other observers, relative to the best means of collecting and preserving specimens of whales and porpoises. By Frederick W. True.

Posted 1 week ago
Tags:  #whales  #gif  #hover whales

1,154 notes

Transcribing "Mary The Mystery": Mary Smith transcription tips


Have you worked on Mary Smith’s Commonplace Book Concerning Science and Mathematics - or perhaps you are stumped as you’re reviewing?

Great news - smithsonianlibraries staff have created this helpful guide to ease your consternation.


  1. S can sometimes look like f, especially when…

Posted 2 weeks ago
Tags:  #reblog  #transcription  #mary smith commonplace book

19 notes
16 of September, 2014

So I said, “If you know of any better fish puns, just let minnow!”

Historiae naturalis de quadrupetibus libri VI (1650)

Posted 2 weeks ago
Tags:  #thank you very much you've been a lovely audience we'll be here all week  #mermaid  #cryptozoology  #17th century  #pun

275 notes