Skip to Content

Found 77,334 Resources

The Tribal Tattoos of Science

Smithsonian Magazine

A Generation Before ‘On the Road,’ This Classic Championed the American Road Trip

Smithsonian Magazine

The cross-country road trip has always been a particular American fascination.

On this day in 1957, Jack Kerouac’s Beat Generation saga On the Road was first published by Viking Press. Although its initial reception was lukewarm, the novel gained extreme popularity and has gone down in history as an American classic. But it wasn’t the first road trip novel to take the country by storm. That honor might belong to Sinclair Lewis’s Free Air, published a generation earlier.

The novel, which was published as a serial in the Saturday Evening Post in 1919, helped shape the new genre of road trip novels as well as capturing a view of America in a moment when automobile travel was still achieving the status it enjoys today. Free Air focuses on a young pair named Claire Boltwood and Milt Daggett who meet while Claire, a wealthy woman from Long Island, is on a cross-country road trip to Seattle with her father. Milt is a garage mechanic in the Midwest.

“Like many Northeasterners, Claire believes that the rest of the country is filled with folks who are good but simple,” writes Steven Michels for The Public Domain Review. “Milt knows better. He had been plotting an escape from its dreary doldrums, but is enthralled with Claire when she comes through town, and he ends up following her and her father on their journey west.”

Like many other road trip narratives before and since, writes Michels, the novel is a meditation on freedom and the meaning of Americanness. Milt and Claire eventually discover that Seattle isn’t unique at all. It is full of people trying to imitate East Coast styles and competing over whose house has the best view. In the end, he writes, they head back out on the open road, the only place they can be free.

Free Air was preceded by 1912’s On the Trail to the Sunset, another cross-country road trip novel featuring a couple who meet while finding freedom on the road, writes literature scholar Ann Brigham.

But even as the American road trip was being written, the American road system romanticized by Sinclair, Kerouac and others like John Steinbeck and Vladimir Nobokov was changing. “In the same year as Lewis’s novel, the U.S. Army sent a cross-country caravan to demonstrate the power of the automobile and the need for a national road system, which was demanded by a modern military that needed transportation arteries to rapidly mobilize anywhere in the country in the event of an attack,” writes literature scholar Joshua Schuster.

On that transport was a young Dwight D. Eisenhower, who would remember it as president when he signed the Federal Aid Highway Act in 1956, laying the groundwork for the interstate highway system, Schuster writes, “forever changing the conditions of the American road trip.”  

Kansa texts and ethnological notes 1882

National Anthropological Archives
Microfilm reel # 5.

Digital surrogates are available online.

Digitization and preparation of these materials for online access has been funded through generous support from the Arcadia Fund.

Old number 3176 (4)

autograph document

Includes list of Kansa(s) villages and sketch map.

Dhegiha linguistic and ethnologic notes 1888-1889

National Anthropological Archives
Microfilm reel # 4.

Digital surrogates are available online.

Digitization and preparation of these materials for online access has been funded through generous support from the Arcadia Fund.

Old number 1228 (complete)

autograph document

Each page dated.

Bird banding by systematic trapping, by S. Prentiss Baldwin

Smithsonian Libraries
Cover title.

Reprint from Linnaean Society of New York, Abstract of proceedings, no. 31, 1919, p. 23-56, and The auk, v. 38, no. 2, 1921, p. 237- 244.

Contribution no. 19 from the Baldwin Bird Research Laboratory, Gates Mills, Ohio.

Anzeiger / Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien, Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Klasse

Smithsonian Libraries
Published under commission at Springer-Verlag, 1943-1946.

Architectural drawings in the collection of the Cooper-Hewitt Museum

Smithsonian Libraries
"The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Design"

Text by John Harris.

Jacobean crewel work and traditional designs

Smithsonian Libraries
Cover-title: Jacobean embroidery and traditional designs.

Showing the Way: A New Light on Old Skills

Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
2009-10-1-a,bOne of the most wonderful mixtures of new technology-electricity-with elegant hand-crafted materials, in this case glass and metalwork, is this table lamp. It shines forth with the strength of electricity but uses soda glass to create a glow more associated with a pre-electrified era. William Arthur Benson, who was trained as an architect, took up...

Looks Good Enough to Eat

Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
277157_e83ba971ad7fd9a4_b[1]Flexi Mother of Pearl is an environmentally responsible wallcovering made with a rapidly renewable natural material that offers an attractive alternative to other surfacing materials. While the name alludes to the natural luster of the mother of pearl material, the wallcovering is actually composed of capiz shells. Thin layers of shell are applied in narrow...

Family Syrphidae / F. Christian Thompson, J.R. Vockeroth, Yale S. Sedman

Smithsonian Libraries
Caption title.

Reprint from A Catalogue of the diptera of the american south of the United States, vol. 46.

American Bauhaus

Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
Flynn 001This printed textile, Campagna, by Angelo Testa epitomizes his distinct design vocabulary. Likely named after Testa’s friend, Paul Campagna, Testa designed it around 1950 for Knoll Associates. Campagna utilizes Testa’s preferred linear and geometric forms, commonly associated with his Bauhaus training. The hard edges of the concentric rectangles in this textile, however, have been softened...

Inside the Mind of a Killer

Smithsonian Magazine
Hollywood horror found its inspiration from the real-life criminal investigations of the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit

Viennese Swag

Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
Modern Viennese design greatly influenced American style during the Jazz Age. This vase, currently on view in the The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s, chronicles this dialogue in the history of modern design. Remarkably, it was one of a pair originally offered in the short-lived Wiener Werkstätte showroom in New York City. Established in 1921...

Janet Harmon Bragg: Aviator

Smithsonian Insider

Janet Harmon Bragg is one of the first female black aviators and the first to hold a commercial pilot’s license. She faced adversity nearly all […]

The post Janet Harmon Bragg: Aviator appeared first on Smithsonian Insider.

Environmental “Forensics” Pieces Together Mysterious Plant Invasion

Smithsonian Insider

On crime scene investigation shows, forensic scientists use remnants of genetic material to solve mysteries in a matter of hours. Researchers at the Smithsonian Environmental […]

The post Environmental “Forensics” Pieces Together Mysterious Plant Invasion appeared first on Smithsonian Insider.

New: myVolcano crowd-sourcing app

Smithsonian Insider

myVolcano is a crowd-sourcing app that enables you to share your photographs and descriptions of volcanic hazards, as well as collecting samples and measurements of […]

The post New: myVolcano crowd-sourcing app appeared first on Smithsonian Insider.

Ancient whales

Smithsonian Insider

This illustration by Carl Buell depicts Ocucajea picklingi (center) and Supayacetus muizoni (bottom), two ancient whales that lived off the Peruvian coast during the Eocene, […]

The post Ancient whales appeared first on Smithsonian Insider.

1910 Henry M. Stanley trading card

Smithsonian Insider

This Henry M. Stanley trading card is from the series: “The World’s Greatest Explorers,” New York, American Tobacco Co., 1910. Stanley’s image, and others like […]

The post 1910 Henry M. Stanley trading card appeared first on Smithsonian Insider.

“Ohboya!� It’s the Bonaire banded box jellyfish, a new species

Smithsonian Insider

The words “box jelly” may bring to mind something sweet and tasty, but the banded box jelly of Bonaire is a highly venomous jellyfish with […]

The post “Ohboya!” It’s the Bonaire banded box jellyfish, a new species appeared first on Smithsonian Insider.

Sneak Peek 2/24/2014

Smithsonian Institution Archives

Unidentified Female Works With Periodometer

Blog Tags: 
Blog Categories: 

Women in Science Wednesday: Kari Bruwelheide

Smithsonian Institution Archives
58369-58392 of 77,334 Resources