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A Green City: Past, Present and Future

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Teacher-created lesson in which students look at the history of city development and city planning as they consider ideas for the future of urban transportation.

A Family Visit to the Smithsonian

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Interactive site featuring one family's week-long experience visiting museums and exhibits. Features the family's journal entries and activities they created to help make the most of a visit to Washington, D.C.

A Durable Memento: Portraits by Augustus Washington, African American Daguerreotypist

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Online exhibition exploring the career of African American daguerreotypist Augustus Washington, in both the United States and Africa. Includes corresponding lesson plans, his daguerreotypes, and a biography.

A Concrete Vision: Oshogbo Art in the 1960s

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
This online exhibition features works by visual artists from the earliest days of the Oshogbo school in Yoruba, Nigeria. Oshogbo artists drew on traditional ideas to create new forms.

A Closer Look at Conservation: Chinese Commemorative Portraits

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
Website presenting step-by-step descriptions of the process of restoring and conserving several Chinese portraits before exhibition.

A Brief History of the Stoplight

Smithsonian Magazine

Driving home from a dinner party on a March night in 1913, the oil magnate George Harbaugh turned on to Cleveland’s Euclid Avenue. It was one of the city’s busiest streets, jammed with automobiles, horse-drawn carriages, bicyclists, trolleys and pedestrians, all believing they had the right of way. Harbaugh did not see the streetcar until it smashed into his roadster. “It is remarkable,” the local newspaper reported, “that the passengers escaped with their lives.”

Many others wouldn’t. More than 4,000 people died in car crashes in the United States in 1913, the same year that Model T’s started to roll off Henry Ford’s assembly line. The nation’s roads weren’t built for vehicles that could speed along at 40 miles an hour, and when those unforgiving machines met at a crowded intersection, there was confusion and, often, collision. Though police officers stood in the center of many of the most dangerous crossroads blowing whistles and waving their arms, few drivers paid attention.

A Cleveland engineer named James Hoge had a solution for all this chaos. Borrowing the red and green signals long used by railroads, and tapping into the electricity that ran through the trolley lines, Hoge created the first “municipal traffic control system.” Patented 100 years ago, Hoge’s invention was the forerunner of a ubiquitous and uncelebrated device that has shaped American cities and daily life ever since-—the stoplight.

Hoge’s light made its debut on Euclid Avenue at 105th Street in Cleveland in 1914 (before the patent was issued). Drivers approaching the intersection now saw two lights suspended above it. A policeman sitting in a booth on the sidewalk controlled the signals with a flip of a switch. “The public is pleased with its operation, as it makes for greater safety, speeds up traffic, and largely controls pedestrians in their movements across the street,” the city’s public safety director wrote after a year of operation.

Others were already experimenting with and improving upon Hoge’s concept, until various inventors had refined the design to the one that controls traffic and raises blood pressure today. We have
William Potts, a Detroit police officer who had studied electrical engineering, to thank for the yellow light, but as a municipal employee he could not patent his invention.

By 1930, all major American cities and many small towns had at least one electric traffic signal, and the innovation was spreading around the world. The simple device tamed the streets; motor vehicle fatality rates in the United States fell by more than 50 percent between 1914 and 1930. And the technology became a symbol of progress. To be a “one stoplight town” was an embarrassment. “Because of the potent power of suggestion, [or] a delusion of grandeur, almost every crossroad hamlet, village, and town installed it where it was neither ornate nor useful,” the Ohio Department of Highways grumbled.

An additional complaint that gained traction was the device’s unfortunate impact on civility. Long before today’s epidemic of road rage, critics warned that drivers had surrendered some of their humanity; they didn’t have to acknowledge each other or pedestrians at intersections, but rather just stare at the light and wait for it to change. As early as 1916, the Detroit Automobile Club found it necessary to declare a “Courtesy Week,” during which drivers were encouraged to display “the breeding that motorists are expected to manifest in all other human relations.” As personal interactions declined, a new, particularly modern scourge appeared—impatience. In 1930, a Michigan policeman noted that drivers “are becoming more and more critical and will not tolerate sitting under red lights.”

The new rules of the road took some getting used to, and some indoctrination. In 1919, a Cleveland teacher invented a game to teach children how to recognize traffic signals, and today, kids still play a version of it, Red Light, Green Light. Within a few decades, the traffic light symbol had been incorporated into children’s entertainment and toys. Heeding the signals has become so ingrained that it governs all kinds of non-driving behavior. Elementary schools put the brakes on bad behavior with traffic light flashcards, and a pediatrician created the “Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right” program to promote healthful eating. Sexual assault prevention programs have adopted the traffic light scheme to signal consent. And the consulting firm Booz Allen suggested in 2002 that companies assess their CEOs as crisis (“red light”), visionary (“green light”) or analytical (“yellow light”) leaders. You can even find the colorful cues on the soccer field: A referee first issues a yellow warning card before holding up the red card, which tells the offending player to hit the road, so to speak.

A newsboy’s stand and traffic light in Los Angeles, 1942 (Library of Congress)

In a century the traffic light went from a contraption that only an engineer could love to a pervasive feature of everyday life—there are some two million of them in the United States today—and a powerful symbol. But its future is not bright. Driverless vehicles are the 21st-century’s Model T, poised to dramatically change not only how we move from place to place but also our very surroundings. Researchers are already designing “autonomous intersections,” where smart cars will practice the art of nonverbal communication to optimize traffic flow, as drivers themselves once did. Traffic lights will begin to disappear from the landscape, and the new sign of modernity will be living in a “no stoplight town.”

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

U.S. crosswalk signals are downright pedestrian. but others are so clever they’ll stop you in your tracks.

Image by Chris Lyons. (original image)

Image by Chris Lyons. (original image)

Image by Chris Lyons. (original image)

Image by Chris Lyons. (original image)

Image by Chris Lyons. (original image)

Image by Chris Lyons. (original image)

Image by Chris Lyons. (original image)

Image by Chris Lyons. (original image)

A Bill to establish the Smithsonian Institution for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
for other bills relating to the act establishing the Smithsonian Institution see S. 18, S. 259, S. 293, S. 292, S. 245, H.R. 863, H.R. 386, H.R. 418, H.R. 1, H.R. 1160, H.R. 1161

This is a bill, introduced by Mr. Owen, for the establishment of the Smithsonian Institution. It establishes a board of managers and states how they are to be appointed. The initial duties of the board are to find a location for the Smithsonian Institution and to plan for the erection of the building. The building shall contain a library, space for the display of objects of natural history, a geological and mineralogical cabinet, a chemistry lab and lecture rooms. It instructs the board to have all objects of natural history, plants and geological and mineralogical specimens, and objects of art and of foreign and curious research belonging to the United States delivered to the Institution.

The board is also instructed to appoint a superintendent to care for the building and grounds, to be secretary of the board of managers and to perform the duties of librarian and keeper of the museum. The board is to appoint a separate professor of agriculture. This bill also includes the provision for a professor of common school instruction who will have the ability to grant certificates of qualification to common school teachers.

Viajando por Las Americas: From Guatemala to Washington, D.C.

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

The immigrant experience is a complex one. Public debates on immigration—around such issues as citizenship and deportation—occur at a national level, but it’s not a monolithic experience, and it entails more than a generic story of a search for a better life. Beyond this narrative are memories of our homeland, childhoods, joy, and heartache. It’s often embedded with difficult decisions—ones involving risk and uncertainty, both physical and emotional. Whether we migrate by foot, land, water, or air, these journeys continue even after arrival with new challenges such as learning a new language or securing a place to live.

Along the way, we discover our resilience.

The 2017 Folklife Festival program On the Move explored the experiences we carry with us as we move to and within the United States. Wherever we go, viajamos—we travel—with our backpack of memories, knowledge, music, dance, food, language, and generations of ancestors who came before us. We reach for these items as we settle in and adapt. It is our toolbox from which we resourcefully build our place in new surroundings and circumstances. We remember the past, but we also learn to adapt.

One such resilient individual at the Festival was Ubaldo Sánchez, an accomplished Central American artist committed to sustaining the craft and tradition of the alfombra de aserrín, which he began learning from his family back in Guatemala when he was five years old. The alfombra is a rug-like decorative piece created on the ground from moist dyed sawdust and other natural materials such as flower petals, rice, beans, and corn. It’s a tradition related to the celebration of Holy Week as practiced throughout Central America and dating back to the sixteenth century. Today, the tradition is not limited to religious occasions.

In the D.C. area, Ubaldo formed a group called Los Viajeros de las Americas—the travelers of the Americas. Here, the craft of the alfombra bridges multiple communities, and Ubaldo’s memory is a resource offered to his new community in the United States. During the Festival, his group created an alfombra on a wooden walkway with four panels: one celebrating the Festival’s 50th anniversary and three depicting scenes in Guatemala and the United States.

Video

Producer: Sean Baker

“An immigrant remembers everything he had to go through in order to get here,” Ubaldo explained. “I remember that one day I carried a gallon of water through the desert. Just like the images I depicted in the alfombra, it made me remember how that journey was once part of my life. All of us who worked on the piece have experienced something like what is represented in the images we created. It is part of what we live in order to get to this country.

“Although I was young, I remember seeing small children in the desert. Sometimes we had to help carry the kids when they were too tired to walk. I also remember how we were left for a night in the snow. One of the people traveling with us almost died.”

Ubaldo described his vision for the alfombra and the significance of its imagery. He explained why the American flag is held by four different hands.

“We put the four [cardinal] directions,” he said. “That represents the colors of the skin according to the color of maize. For the Maya, these four colors are really important. The white corn represents white, the yellow represents the Hispanic or something along those lines, the black represents African Americans, and the red represents the Native Americans or indigenous peoples. Everything has a relationship to nature. All of this has the same colors that we as humans also possess. Based on that, we made the design to represent North America using the American flag with the four colors that represent the human.”

Gallery

Click on the above image to see a slideshow of the making of the alfombra de aserrín

Finding and affirming one’s own identity can be a struggle that takes time to resolve. Ubaldo explained how he had once tried to deny his own indigenous heritage.

“There was a time when I didn’t want to speak my language, Mam,” he recalled. “Perhaps it was my own ignorance, or maybe it was just a phase of my rebellious youth years. Then one day, my high school teacher shows up at my front door unexpectedly. He told me, ‘Look, Ubaldo. If you would recognize your identity, you could go really far with your art. Your cultural roots are really important. I expect that your mother understands Spanish, but I imagine that she also spoke to you in Mam during the nine months she spent with you in her womb. So how is it that you deny your mother?’”

In that moment, Ubaldo realized that art could support his sense of self, and that he in turn could teach other generations of people to continue the tradition of the alfombra. Today Ubaldo continues to create alfombrasat local churches for Holy Week and other religious holidays. He has been invited to produce pieces at the Smithsonian and the Kennedy Center, and in honor of President Barack Obama and Pope Francis during his visit to D.C. in 2015.

As an active member of his community, Ubaldo is committed to passing on his craft to younger generations. He also wishes to use his art to break stigmas against indigenous peoples, who are sometimes viewed as possessing primitive knowledge. With the wellbeing of his community in his homeland always in mind, he started a nonprofit organization that sends support for medical aid and access to drinking water for indigenous children in Guatemala.

The remarkable immigrant and migrant experiences—the ones we carry from other places to the ones we create in our new homes—give meaning to our livelihoods and shape the way we interact with the world. The voices and cultural resources of immigrants significantly contribute to who we are as nation. They are stories that deserve to be told.

Michelle Aranda Coss was born in Mexico City and raised in Los Angeles. She is a student in Chicanx Studies at California State University, Northridge, and she is particularly interested in the arts as tools for transformation and social justice. She was an intern with the On the Move program of the 2017 Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

Read more: Colorful Sawdust Carpets: A Guatemalan Tradition from Hola Cultura

The Master

National Museum of American History

This linoleum print with black ink on white paper was made by Peter Bodge in Newburyport, Massachusetts, in 1986. It is a portrait of American jazz drummer and composer Maxwell Lemuel Roach (1924–2007) entitled The Master. Print 1/10.

Peter Bodge, is a jazz drummer, art teacher, and printmaker in Massachusetts. Bodge creates linoleum prints and other works on paper. His work most often features portraits, action shots semi-abstract interpretations of such famous jazz musicians, such as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Elllngton , Count Basie and John Coltrane. In 1977, Bodge created a short animated film based on the life of Charlie Parker entitled Bird Lives!:

https://www.cambridgecollege.edu/bird-lives-film-peter-bodge

The Kid from Redbank

National Museum of American History

This linoleum print with black ink on white paper was made by Peter Bodge in Newburyport, Massachusetts, in 1986. It is a portrait of American jazz pianist, organist, bandleader, and composer William James "Count" Basie (1904–1984) entitled The Kid from Redbank. Artist’s proof.

Peter Bodge, is a jazz drummer, art teacher, and printmaker in Massachusetts. Bodge creates linoleum prints and other works on paper. His work most often features portraits, action shots semi-abstract interpretations of such famous jazz musicians, such as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Elllngton , Count Basie and John Coltrane. In 1977, Bodge created a short animated film based on the life of Charlie Parker entitled Bird Lives!:

https://www.cambridgecollege.edu/bird-lives-film-peter-bodge

Stompin' at the Savoy

National Museum of American History

This linoleum print with black ink on white paper was made by Peter Bodge in Newburyport, Massachusetts, in 1986. It is a portrait of American jazz and swing drummer and bandleader William Henry "Chick" Webb (1905–1939) entitled Stompin’ at the Savoy. Print 1/10.

Peter Bodge, is a jazz drummer, art teacher, and printmaker in Massachusetts. Bodge creates linoleum prints and other works on paper. His work most often features portraits, action shots semi-abstract interpretations of such famous jazz musicians, such as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Elllngton , Count Basie and John Coltrane. In 1977, Bodge created a short animated film based on the life of Charlie Parker entitled Bird Lives!:

https://www.cambridgecollege.edu/bird-lives-film-peter-bodge

Meditation

National Museum of American History

This linoleum print with black ink on white paper was made by Peter Bodge in Newburyport, Massachusetts, in 1986. It is a portrait of American composer. Pianist, and jazz band and orchestra leader , composer, Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington (1918–1974) entitled Meditation. Print number 8/10.

Peter Bodge, is a jazz drummer, art teacher, and printmaker in Massachusetts. Bodge creates linoleum prints and other works on paper. His work most often features portraits, action shots semi-abstract interpretations of such famous jazz musicians, such as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Elllngton , Count Basie and John Coltrane. In 1977, Bodge created a short animated film based on the life of Charlie Parker entitled Bird Lives!:

https://www.cambridgecollege.edu/bird-lives-film-peter-bodge

Lady Day

National Museum of American History

This linoleum print with black ink on white paper was made by Peter Bodge in Newburyport, Massachusetts, in 1986. It is a portrait of jazz vocalist Billie Holiday (1915-1959) entitled Lady Day. Artist's proof B.

Peter Bodge, is a jazz drummer, art teacher, and printmaker in Massachusetts. Bodge creates linoleum prints and other works on paper. His work most often features portraits, action shots semi-abstract interpretations of such famous jazz musicians, such as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Elllngton , Count Basie and John Coltrane. In 1977, Bodge created a short animated film based on the life of Charlie Parker entitled Bird Lives!:

https://www.cambridgecollege.edu/bird-lives-film-peter-bodge

This print was featured on the 2003 poster for the Smithsonian's Jazz Appreciation Month.

https://americanhistory.si.edu/smithsonian-jazz/jazz-appreciation-month/jazz-appreciation-month-posters

Good-bye Porkpie Hat

National Museum of American History

This linoleum print with black ink on white paper was made by Peter Bodge in Newburyport, Massachusetts, in 1986. It is a portrait of American jazz tenor saxophonist Lester Young (1909-1959) entitled Good-bye Porkpie Hat. Print number 10/10.

Peter Bodge, is a jazz drummer, art teacher, and printmaker in Massachusetts. Bodge creates linoleum prints and other works on paper. His work most often features portraits, action shots semi-abstract interpretations of such famous jazz musicians, such as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Elllngton , Count Basie and John Coltrane. In 1977, Bodge created a short animated film based on the life of Charlie Parker entitled Bird Lives!:

https://www.cambridgecollege.edu/bird-lives-film-peter-bodge

Dizzy!

National Museum of American History

This linoleum print with black ink on white paper was made by Peter Bodge in Newburyport, Massachusetts, in 1982. It is a portrait of American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, composer, and singer John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie (1917–1993) entitled Dizzy! Print number 10/10.

Peter Bodge, is a jazz drummer, art teacher, and printmaker in Massachusetts. Bodge creates linoleum prints and other works on paper. His work most often features portraits, action shots semi-abstract interpretations of such famous jazz musicians, such as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Elllngton , Count Basie and John Coltrane. In 1977, Bodge created a short animated film based on the life of Charlie Parker entitled Bird Lives!:

https://www.cambridgecollege.edu/bird-lives-film-peter-bodge

This print was featured on the 2002 poster for the Smithsonian's Jazz Appreciation Month.

https://americanhistory.si.edu/smithsonian-jazz/jazz-appreciation-month/jazz-appreciation-month-posters

That which is still lives as a monument

Archives of American Art
Lecture : 1 p. : handwritten ; 32 x 21 cm.

Lecture notes in which sculptor Paul Suttman describes still life sculpture as alive, and catalogs the natural and unnatural aspects of a three dimensional object.

A few Impressions of Current American Pottery

Archives of American Art
Essay : 5 p. : typescript ; 28 x 22 cm.

Leach writes about pottery as emerging from the second World War without a history, and how there are far more teachers being trained in pottery than there are pottery artists working. She recommends reversing this trend and points out that in the Orient there are far more pottery artists who are developing new and innovative styles.

Untitled

National Museum of African American History and Culture
A black-and-white photograph of six African American children lined up against a brick wall. A few white children are walking around in the foreground.

Untitled

National Museum of African American History and Culture
A black-and-white digital photograph by Devin Allen of unidentified women protesting in Baltimore, Maryland. The central figure is a woman named Amanda in a striped V-neck t-shirt with her right arm reaching upward and her hand outstretched. She looks upward and off frame slightly right. Behind her is a woman holding a cell phone while taking photographs or video next to a woman with her right arm raised and a sign in her left hand that is largely out of frame. Other figures largely out of frame surround the women. Raindrops are visible on the clothing and bodies of the people.

91.48 MB

Uli Notes

National Museum of African Art
Watercolor painting on paper consisting of an outline of a human head with uli motifs, geometric motifs and abstract representations of animals, a pot and a human within.

Through the Broken Wall We Saw the Chameleon Change its Colors

National Museum of African Art
Watercolor painting on paper in warm orange and yellow tones with a white circle bordered by a brick motif and surmounting uli-inspired motifs, a chameleon and spirals inside of a rounded rectangular form.

They Left Us in Tatters

National Museum of African Art
Watercolor painting on paper, with colors of white and red predominating, with some blue. The central motif is a face placed in a white ring that is placed in a larger red square which itself is placed in an even larger white square. At the bottom are a series of linear motifs, probably uli designs.

The Fisherman and the River Goddess with his Captured Multi-Colored Fishes and the River Night Guard

National Museum of African Art
Horizontal oil, pastel and ink on wood panel with two figures in a boat, trees in the background and fish in the bottom of the boat.

The End of the Beginning

National Museum of African Art
Horizontal oil on canvas paitning with a winged masked figure on the proper left, a long low lizard like animal in the lower proper right and a whitish bird in the center. the background is suggestive of menhirs or buildings and there is a wide range of colors.
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