Museum Monday: Maryland State Archives in 2013

For a building built in 1984, I think the Maryland State Archives inspires. Maybe it strikes a chord with me akin to the library buildings of my childhood. Unlike it’s colonial and colonial revival ancestors further down Rowe Blvd in … Continue reading

Transit Tuesday: Crinolines and Omnibuses

It was the 1850s. Skirts were big. Transportation, not so much. Prior to elevated railways, streetcars, and subways, mass transit meant the omnibus, a horse-drawn wagon, often enclosed. Crinolines (hoop skirts) gave lampoonists of the mid-19th century ample tongue-wagging material. … Continue reading

Curious Objects: Portrait Collages at the National Portrait Gallery

I was killing time before my talk for the Washington Conservation Guild on February 7. The old Patent Office serves as the home to two Smithsonian Institution museums, the National Portrait Gallery, and the American Art Museum. The Patent Office … Continue reading

(Music Plays) Lydia, The Tattoed Lady – An eighteenth century woman’s tattoo

The New Yorker Photo Booth blog highlighted tattoed women and a book about them Bodies of Subversion: A Secret History of Women and Tattoo by Margot Mifflin (1997). The photograph of Maud Wagner caught my eye, my first perception of a Gibson … Continue reading

Shifting Garment Styles, 1750-1790: What Research and Sketching Have in Common

Historical research is like sketching. You begin with a few pieces of data, allowing you to make some bold strokes on a piece of white paper. You identify what sorts of primary resources will improve that image, and it redirects … Continue reading

Gender Bender: Flying Business Class

A few times a year, my work takes me to places for which I get to fly business class. It’s definitely a perk, but it certainly has more to do with flexibility of booking/unbooking for my employer than it has … Continue reading

Caraway.

Caraway. It’s lyrical. It’s herbal, savory, and astringent. My French friends confuse it for a cumin seed.  It evokes strong feelings of admiration or disgust, depending on whose palate is assessing it. And it’s one of my favorite flavorings. When … Continue reading

Java Up: The Coffee House: A Cultural History

Grab your mug, get some joe, and crack open The Coffee House: A Cultural History by Markman Ellis (Wenfield and Nicolson, 2004). I was aware of the role the coffee house played in discourse and the exchange of news. In … Continue reading

A Visit to the Drugstore, 1786

Halloween’s passed us by, but here’s a tale of horror from the late eighteenth century: a visit to the drugstore. This advertisement appeared in The Maryland Journal on August 11, 1786. Particularly note the “Calomel, and all other well-prepared Mercuries” … Continue reading

Eighteenth Century for the Weekend

Last weekend, The Brigade of the American Revolution hosted an Authenticity Event at Don Carpentier’s Eastfield Village. A collection of two taverns, a store, a church, a doctor’s office, an assortment of shops, and a handful of houses were saved … Continue reading