Wonders from the Past
Science and Technology Internet sites selected for the readers of Duke University Libraries
Small Town America: Stereoscopic Views from the Robert Dennis Collection
This captivating collection, presented by the New York Public Library and drawn from the Robert Dennis Collection, contains 12,000 stereoscopic views from the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut region from the 1850s to the 1910s. According to the site, "during that period stereoscopic views were a mainstay of home entertainment, perhaps second only to reading as a personal leisure activity. Stereoscopes varied from small, wooden, hand-held devices for viewing single images to large cabinet-size pieces of furniture that could display a changing series of fifty or a hundred views." Along with showing a number of buildings and street scenes in the small towns of the area, these photographs show industry, transportation, natural disasters, local festivities, and costumes. Visitors may want to begin by browsing this collection by title, name, subject, formats, or places in order to get some sense of the wide variety of material covered in the holdings of this online archive. The subjects include Niagara Falls, a polar bear at the Bronx Zoo, P.T. Barnum's home in Bridgeport, and swimmers at Cape May. Visitors to the site can also complete a simple or detailed search in order to locate specific views.
HistoryWired: A Few of our Favorite Things
Like most museums, the Smithsonian has millions of artifacts stored in warehouses, inaccessible to the public. But "the nation's attic" has flung open its doors-virtually-with this website, which lets visitors select and see the objects that interest them. The 450 objects include famous, unusual, and everyday items with interesting stories to tell, chosen from the collection of the National Museum of American History. The site's interface is a Java-enabled object map that looks like a jigsaw puzzle or surveyor's grid. It's composed of variably-sized rectangles filled with dozens of other rectangles, each of which represents an object visitors can view. A mouse click on one of the rectangles opens a photograph of the item and a curator's explanation of its significance. The objects include Benny Goodman's clarinet, Mamie Eisenhower's inaugural gown, and a children's chemistry set from 1937. Visitors can view items in a particular category, e.g., "Art," "Commerce," "Leisure," or "Medicine" or from a particular time period.
NYPL Digital Gallery
Lovers of historical and cultural ephemera will find this website an absolute gem that showcases the potential of large-scale digital galleries. The NYPL Digital Gallery, the New York Public Library's image database, currently contains over 275,000 items for online viewing. To give users a sense of what they might find on the site, here are some of the items included: Goya's Disasters of War, George Caitlin's North American Indian Portfolio, some panoramic cityscapes of New York City's Fifth Avenue, and 16th-century maps and drawings depicting the landing of European explorers in the Western Hemisphere. To help navigate through this large and diverse mass of images, collections are grouped by broad topical browsing categories. The site can also be browsed by names, subjects, and libraries. Keyword and advanced search options are provided. The site also contains a "Curator's Choice" section, with changing features such as "Ornament and Pattern: Pre-Victorian to Art Deco."
Thanks to the Internet Scout Project for identifying these
sites. (Copyright Internet Scout Project, 1994-2005. http://scout.cs.wisc.edu/
) and the Christian Science Monitor for identifying these sites. If you would like to recommend a Web site for inclusion in a future issue of Duke University Libraries, contact Joline Ezzell at email@example.com.