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“New” 2,000-Year-Old Geoglyph Spotted in Peru

Smithsonian Magazine

Easter Island has its iconic statues. England has Stonehenge. And Peru has its own mysterious modification to the landscape—the Nazca lines. The enormous geoglyphs were made in the desert ground around 2,000 years ago and have long been the subject of speculation. Now, Japanese researchers have discovered an entirely new geoglyph in Nazca, showing how much more there is to learn about the puzzling designs.

Masato Sakai and Jorge Olano of Yamagata University in Japan recently announced the discovery of the 98-foot-long geoglyph, which is thought to represent a mythical animal sticking out its tongue. Its makers seem to have forged it by removing stones with darker colors from the plateau surface to expose whitish ground below. They then piled up the stones to shape the image. It’s in the vicinity of another geoglyph the team discovered in 2011 that shows what they characterize as “a scene of decapitation.”

Imaginary animals and gory scenes may seem like strange things to encounter in the vast pampas of Peru, but they’re all part of the enigma of Nazca. Archaeologists now think that the lines were part of astronomical religious rituals enacted by the pre-Columbian Nazca culture, a group of ancient indigenous Peruvians who lived as farmers and warriors on the desert plains of Peru’s Rio Grande de Nasca. Since the pampas are so untouched by wind and rain, the lines they contain have remained relatively unscathed over thousands of years.

An outline reconstruction of the figure. (Yamagata University)

In a time before planes or satellites, the creation of thousands of geoglyphs that could only be fully appreciated from above was a leap of faith. But in the 1940s, archaeologists began to study the lines from the sky. The lines are now considered one of the world’s most impressive—and baffling—ancient feats.

Their symbolism continues into the 21st century, too: In 2014, they were irreparably damaged by Greenpeace activists looking to make a point about renewable energy. They may be co-opted by modern voices, but the Unesco-protected lines are a mute testament to a religion and culture that is largely lost.

But archaeologists are determined to find out as much as they can about the lines. As the Japan Times reports, Sakai’s team has already discovered over 100 “new” geoglyphs. The lines may be old, but there’s always more to learn.

“Mermaid Ivory” Stirs Controversy Over How Extinct Species Are Studied

Smithsonian Magazine

The Steller’s sea cow was almost extinct by the time German naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller first laid eyes on the plump marine mammal. The species that would bear his name once ranged throughout the North Pacific, but by the time of Steller’s visit in 1741, the last population was sequestered around Russia’s Commander Islands. The species was hunted into extinction before the close of the 18th century.

Then, a discovery complicated this classic story of extinction. In 2014, George Mason University biologist Lorelei Crerar and her coauthors announced that a hidden population of Steller’s sea cow bobbed through the waters around St. Lawrence Island, west of the Alaskan coast, up until about 1,000 years ago.

Why this second pocket went extinct wasn’t clear—in their report in Biology Letters, the researchers proposed that a brief uptick in temperatures called the Medieval Warm Period could have made the kelp the marine mammals ate harder to find, or that Inuit hunted them into extinction. Either way, the discovery of this “hidden” population added a new wrinkle to the animal's tragic tale.

Now the study is making waves for a very different reason: It highlights the squishy state of regulations surrounding “mermaid ivory,” the colorful name for the bones of marine mammals carved into sculptures, and what that means for scientific research.

For their work, Crerar and her coauthors used bone specimens bought at knife shows and on Ebay. The bone dealers assured them that the samples came from St. Lawrence Island. The team's initial intention was to detect whether protected marine species were being illegally traded under the banner of mermaid ivory, says study co-author Chris Parsons. Their genetic analysis identified some of the samples as Steller's sea cow, and those bones were dated at about 1,000 years old, which Crerar and Parsons deem a serendipitous result.

But not everyone is sold on the idea that the sea cows inhabited the waters around St. Lawrence Island way back when. In a response article published this month in Biology Letters, marine mammal experts Nicholas Pyenson, James Parham and Jorge Velez-Juarbe question where these critical sea cow bones came from and, more broadly, how commercially purchased specimens are used in studying the past.

“While I certainly hope that the material did come from St. Lawrence Island, we have no basis, given the current facts, to affirm this geographic placement with confidence,” says Pyenson, of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. Location is just as important as anatomy or tatters of genes in examining where species used to live. Even though it was not Crerar and colleagues' intention to conduct a paleontological study, Pyenson and his coauthors are dismayed that there is no concrete evidence for where the bone samples came from.

A bone sold as mermaid ivory is stripped of its context and can only give you scant anatomical details, Parham says. “Because the fossil record is so incomplete already, any time we lose attendant data, the science suffers.” Promises from bone dealers are not sufficient, he adds. “In science, you should not really pick and choose which merchant to believe.”

Complicating matters, this species falls through a regulatory loophole.

“The specimens in question fall outside of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, because Steller’s sea cow is extinct. And because these specimens are not technically fossils either, they fall outside of the Paleontological Resources Protection Act,” says Pyenson. That means dealers can legally buy and sell the bones without having to worry much about documenting their origins. And that makes the original study problematic, Pyenson says.

“I think their broad conclusions would be interesting and relevant to a more complex extinction scenario if we did have such traceability," he says. "But what confidence do we have that the isotopic and DNA results can be tracked to actual physical vouchers, given these issues?”

Pyenson and his coauthors are also concerned that the 2014 study grated against the standards of paleontology and other biological disciplines. The bones used in the 2014 study were held in a private collection, which was put in a George Mason University collection last December. That means the original specimens were privately held at the time they were formally described.

When important specimens are in private hands, the owner may deny access to scientists for any reason they like, the trio point out. "And then there’s always the question of what will happen to those specimens beyond the lifetime of the owner,” says Velez-Juarbe of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles.

Reiterating that their initial findings were a happenstance that came out of a different project, the authors of the 2014 study dispute these arguments. In a published reply to Pyenson and his colleagues, Crerar says that the samples were not hard to access.

“All 200 of the bones are at George Mason University,” she says, with the exception of five that are currently at the Smithsonian, and she says that other researchers have already examined the collection. And while Crerar would also like to know more about where the bones came from, she has not yet visited St. Lawrence Island and talk to the people who dig the bones from middens.

Parsons adds that he is “dumbfounded by the furor over the samples,” especially because the sea cow samples “are tiny fragments that aren’t really recognizable as bones or carvings.” He likens them to genetic tissue samples, which are not always stored in museum collections.

Still, archiving genetic samples has rapidly become a scientific standard for biologists, and museums and zoos around the world are building huge collections of frozen tissues, says Parham of California State University.

While the tricky nature of mermaid ivory may not be resolved any time soon, there is some hope for resolving the mystery of the St. Lawrence Island sea cows. Middens likely to harbor more sea cow bones have previously been excavated on the islands, and their fully documented contents are now being cared for at museums, say Pyenson, Parham and Velez-Juarbe.

“Could there be Steller’s sea cow already in museum collections at Fairbanks?” Pyenson wonders. “I’m going to go and find out.”

“I Hope It Is Not Too Late”: How the U.S. Decided to Send Millions of Troops Into World War I

Smithsonian Magazine

U.S. General John J. Pershing, newly arrived in France, visited his counterpart, French general Philippe Pétain, with a sobering message on June 16, 1917. It had been two months since the U.S. entered World War I, but Pershing, newly appointed to command the American Expeditionary Force in France, had hardly any troops to deploy. The United States, Pershing told Pétain, wouldn’t have enough soldiers to make a difference in France until spring 1918.

“I hope it is not too late,” the general replied.

Tens of thousands of Parisians had thronged the streets to cheer Pershing on his June 13 arrival. Women climbed onto the cars in his motorcade, shouting, “Vive l’Amérique!” The French, after three years of war with Germany, were desperate for the United States to save them.

Now Pétain told Pershing that French army was near collapse. A million French soldiers had been killed in trench warfare. Robert-Georges Nivelle’s failed April offensive against the German line in northern France had caused 120,000 French casualties. After that, 750,000 soldiers mutinied, refusing to go to the front line. Pétain, who replaced Nivelle in May, had kept the army together by granting some of the soldiers’ demands for better food and living conditions and leave to see their families. But the French were in no condition to launch any more offensives. “We must wait for the Americans,” Pétain told Pershing.

But the United States wasn’t ready to fight. It had declared war in April 1917 with only a small standing army. Pershing arrived in France just four weeks after the Selective Service Act authorized a draft of at least 500,000 men. Though President Woodrow Wilson intended to send troops to France, there was no consensus on how many. “The more serious the situation in France,” Pershing wrote in his 1931 memoir, My Experiences in the World War, “the more deplorable the loss of time by our inaction at home appeared.”

It fell to Pershing to devise the American war strategy. The 56-year-old West Point graduate had fought the Apache and Sioux in the West, the Spanish in Cuba, Filipino nationalists in their insurrection against U.S. rule and Pancho Villa in Mexico. He was blunt, tough, and stubborn—“a large man with small, trim arms and legs, and an underslung jaw that would defy an aerial bomb,” a contemporary wrote. He hated dithering, spoke little and hardly ever smiled.

Resisting French and British pressure to reinforce their armies with American soldiers, Pershing and his aides studied where to best deploy the American Expeditionary Force. Germany had seized nearly all of Belgium and the northeast edge of France, so the war’s Western front now stretched 468 miles, from the Swiss border to the North Sea. The British were deployed in France’s northern tip, where they could quickly escape home if they had to. The French were defending Paris by holding the front about 50 miles northeast of the capital.

So Pershing chose Lorraine, in northeastern France, as “a chance for the decisive use of our army.” If the Americans could advance just 40 miles from there, they could reach Germany itself, cut off the main German supply line, and threaten the enemy’s coalfields and iron mines. On June 26, Pershing visited Pétain again, and tentatively agreed on where to begin the first American offensive.

On June 28, the first 14,500 American troops arrived in France. “Their arrival left Pershing singularly unimpressed,” wrote Jim Lacey in his 2008 biography, Pershing. “To his expert eye the soldiers were undisciplined and poorly trained. Many of their uniforms did not fit and most were fresh from recruiting stations, with little training other than basic drill.” But Parisians wanted to throw a gala celebration for the troops on America’s Independence Day.

To boost French morale, Pershing reluctantly agreed. On July 4, he and the troops marched five miles through Paris’ streets to the tomb of the Marquis de Lafayette. There, Pershing aide Charles E. Stanton delivered a speech that ended with a sweeping salute. “Nous voilà, Lafayette!” Stanton declared—“Lafayette, we are here!” in English—a phrase often misattributed to Pershing himself.

Ceremonies performed, Pershing got back to work. The British and French counted on 500,000 U.S. troops in 1918. But Pershing suspected a half-million soldiers wouldn’t be enough. His three weeks in France had deepened his understanding of the Allies’ plight and their inability to break the stalemate on the Western Front. America, he decided, needed to do more. 

On July 6, Pershing cabled Newton Baker, the Secretary of War. “Plans should contemplate sending over at least 1,000,000 men by next May,” the telegram read. Soon after, Pershing and his aides forwarded a battle plan to Washington. It called for a larger military effort than the United States had ever seen.

“It is evident that a force of about 1,000,000 is the smallest unit which in modern war will be a complete, well-balanced, and independent fighting organization,” Pershing wrote. And plans for the future, he added, might require as many as 3 million men.

Pershing’s demand sent shock waves through the War Department. Admiral William Sims, who commanded the U.S. fleet in European waters, thought Pershing was joking when he heard it. Tasker Bliss, the War Department’s acting chief of staff, expressed alarm, but had no alternate plan. “Baker seemed unruffled,” wrote Frank E. Vandiver in his 1977 Pershing biography, Black Jack. “Committed to winning peace at any kind of rates, Wilson followed Baker’s calm.” They accepted Pershing’s war plan.

Almost 10 million young men had already registered for the draft, giving the Wilson administration the means to fulfill Pershing’s demand. On July 20, Baker, wearing a blindfold, pulled numbers out of a glass bowl, choosing 687,000 men in the nation’s first draft lottery since the Civil War. By the end of July, the outlines of the war effort’s true scale—1 to 2 million men—began to emerge in the press.

But the news didn’t reverse public and congressional support for the war. The shock of the Zimmermann Telegram and the patriotic exhortations of the government’s Committee on Public Information had overcome many Americans’ past skepticism about sending troops to fight in Europe. By the end of 1918, the United States would draft 2.8 million men into the armed forces—just in time to help its allies win the war.

“Hobbits” Disappeared Much Earlier Than Previously Thought

Smithsonian Magazine

The mysterious hominin known as the "Hobbit" died out far earlier than previously thought, scientists have learned. The revised age, published today in the journal Nature, could help resolve, or reignite, controversies over the diminutive fossil’s origins. It also raises some intriguing questions about why Homo floresiensis vanished—and what role our own species might have played in its demise.

When the discovery of 3-foot-tall Homo floresiensis and its grapefruit-sized head was announced in 2004, the tiny hominin’s odd mix of ancient and more modern physical features captured the public's imagination and created controversy among scientists tasked with figuring out exactly what kind of creature the unusual bones represented.  

Excavations on the Indonesian island of Flores have now revealed that Homo floresiensis called Liang Bua cave home between 190,000 and 50,000 years ago, rather than as recently as 12,000 years ago, which was the surprisingly late date previous research had suggested.

The digs, carried out between 2007 and 2014 by many members of the research team that first discovered the fossil, gradually exposed new parts of the cave only to discover that, thanks to eons of erosion, the sediment layer cake under its floor is unevenly distributed. As teams excavated from the cave’s mouth back toward the middle, it became evident that older deposits had been eroded prior to 20,000 years ago and gradually covered again by new sediments since.

Those younger sediments confused the original dating efforts. Scientists incorrectly associated the Homo floresiensis fossils with the more recent layer, says co-author Thomas Sutikna of the University of Wollongong in Australia, when it’s now clear that they were actually buried in the older layer of sediment.

The bones themselves were also reevaluated for this study with uranium-series dating, which charts the decay of uranium in bones to determine how long they’ve been buried.

Most theories of Homo floresiensis origins suggest they are the descendants of an early hominin dispersal. Co-author Matt Tocheri, of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario, says there are two main possibilities.

“The first is that Homo floresiensis is the descendant of Asian Homo erectus, and if this is true, then it implies the smaller body and brain size of Homo floresiensis probably evolved in isolation on the island. The alternative," he says, "is that Homo floresiensis is the descendant of another pre-modern species of Homo that may have been smaller-bodied and smaller-brained to begin with when it reached the island.”

Tocheri notes that the new ages won’t do much to move the needle from one of these options to the other—only the discovery of more fossils will do that. “If there was a book that chronicled the entire evolutionary history of Homo floresiensis, then it would be like we have only a few tattered and torn pages with the rest of the pages missing but hopefully not lost forever,” he says.

Some scientists, though a distinct minority, maintain that Homo floresiensis isn’t a new species at all but an abnormal, dwarfed member of our own Homo sapiens suffering from some ancient pathology like cretinism, microcephaly or Down’s syndrome.

Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum, London argues that the new dates do impact the feasibility of this scenario—and in fact make it much less likely. “They would seem to fatally undermine remaining claims that the ‘Hobbit’ fossils belong to diseased modern humans, since the material now dates beyond any modern human specimens known from the region,” says Stringer, who wasn’t affiliated with the research. 

Was There a Human Hand in the Hobbits’ Extinction?

Adding to the Hobbit’s intrigue was the relatively recent age originally assigned to the fossil, which had pegged it as the last known human species to vanish from the ancient world—excepting our own, of course.

The dates made it possible, though not certain—given the island’s remote location—that our two species coexisted for some significant part of those 40,000 years, which would have been a unique arrangement between modern humans and earlier human species. “I wondered how [Homo floresiensis] could have survived for so long after the arrival of Homo sapiens in the region at least 50,000 years ago, when other forms of human, such as the Neanderthals and Denisovans, had physically disappeared long before,” notes Stringer.

However, it’s still unclear if the Hobbits survived long enough to encounter modern humans at all. The earliest evidence of humans on Flores—in the remote string of islands stretching east of Java—doesn’t appear until some 11,000 years ago. But modern humans were on some of the region’s other islands by 50,000 years ago and had even reached Australia by that time. Their impact there, along with the apparent timing of the Hobbit’s extinction, suggests our own species could have possibly played a dark role in the disappearance of the Hobbits. If, in fact, the two ever met.

“At least for Australia, the weight of evidence points to humans playing a decisive role in the extinction of the giant endemic animals or ‘megafauna’ that once roamed the continent,” says co-author Richard “Bert” Roberts of the University of Wollongong in Australia. “So was Homo floresiensis another casualty of the spread of our species? This is certainly a possibility that we take seriously, but solid evidence is needed in order to demonstrate it. It will definitely be a major focus of further research.”

Homo floresiensis wasn't the only unusual inhabitant of Flores, and, interestingly, many of those creatures also seem to have vanished around the same time. Shifting climates or catastrophic volcanism could have plausibly played roles in these extinctions instead of, or in addition to, the arrival of modern humans, Tocheri notes.

“Theoretically the loss of pygmy Stegodon [an extinct form of elephant] could have caused a disastrous reaction stretching through the food chain,” he adds. “Pygmy Stegodon is the only large-bodied herbivore known on Flores during the Late Pleistocene, and it was clearly a primary food source for the vultures, giant marabou storks and Komodo dragons, which all disappeared from the island at roughly the same time as Homo floresiensis. If something happened to cause the pygmy Stegodon population to crash, then it more than likely would have had an adverse effect on these other species.”

More evidence will be needed if we’re ever to untangle what actually happened.

Even if modern humans did help force the Hobbits into extinction, Chris Stringer raises the tantalizing possibility that, like Neanderthals or Denisovans, they may not have vanished entirely.

“At least some of those other forms of humans did not go completely extinct since their DNA lives on in us today through ancient interbreeding between the archaic and early modern populations,” Stringer explains. “This leaves open the fascinating possibility that even H. floresiensis might have contributed some of its DNA to living groups in the region, if there was at least a short overlap between floresiensis and sapiens about 50,000 years ago.”

“Great Cold Spot” Discovered on Jupiter

Smithsonian Magazine

When you think of Jupiter, it’s likely you see red—the planet’s iconic Big Red Spot, that is. But it turns out that the gigantic red gyre isn’t the only great spot on Jupiter. As the Associated Press reports, scientists have found another spot on the gas giant: one that’s big, cold, and high up on the planet’s north pole.

The Great Cold Spot, as it’s being called, was spotted, as it were, by researchers using the Very Large Telescope. Located in Chile’s dark, high-altitude Atacama Desert, the telescope array is the world’s most cutting-edge optical instrument and gives scientists a better-than-ever chance to study the night sky.

With the help of that mammoth window to space, they were able to make observations of a previously unknown region at the top of Jupiter. They describe the spot in a new paper published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

The region isn’t a spot per se; it’s weather. Like the Great Red Spot, which is thought to be the product of a massive ongoing storm in Jupiter’s violent, gaseous atmosphere, the Great Cold Spot seems to be a weather system. Like its cousin, it’s really big—nearly 15,000 miles in longitude and 7,500 miles in latitude. That makes it bigger than Earth. And it's extremely cold compared to the rest of the atmosphere.

Scientists have been watching the spot for years without knowing it. When they compared the Very Large Telescope array’s analysis of the planet’s hydrogen—thought to fuel the planet’s crazy weather—with data from NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility in Hawaii, they realized that the colder temperatures at the planet’s poles are pretty consistent.

The spot can’t be seen with the human eye. Rather, it’s visible on infrared readings as a kind of dark oval on top of Jupiter’s bright upper atmosphere. Though it seems to have shifted dramatically over the years—and is now thought to have existed since the planet was formed—it’s always in the same spot. That’s because Jupiter’s storms don’t have an actual planetary surface to slow them down.

Scientists can’t see what’s beneath the planet’s swirling, gaseous atmosphere, but their best guess is that it’s nothing like Earth, where all of the gas and dust that formed the planet eventually settled down to into things like land and water. Jupiter hasn’t been that lucky—its vortices appear to get continually fueled by radiation that sucks its surrounding atmosphere into it again and again. And the data collected by researchers suggests that the just-discovered cooler spot exists thanks to energy from Jupiter’s polar auroras.

Now, says the research team in a press release, they’ll look for other features in the upper atmosphere. They’ll have help: NASA’s Juno spacecraft is swirling around the planet as we speak, and researchers could use the orbiter’s data to learn even more about the Great Cold Spot and other storms. Get ready to update your mental map of the gas giant as new data comes in.

“Arming the Rebels” Has Pretty Much Never Worked

Smithsonian Magazine

In Greece, Cuba, and Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Angola and, now, in Syria, “arming the rebels” has been one of the U.S.'s go-to approaches to international relations. Yet according to an internal report from the CIA, that strategy is a bad one, says the New York Times.

In every instance but one, arming the rebels just didn't really work. And even when it does, says the Times, there can be some nasty aftereffects.

Let's say there's some conflict or struggle or insurrection that American leaders want to sway one way or another but don't want to actually get involved in—no boots on the ground. Since its inception 67 years ago, the CIA has offered a different option: the agency will arm and train the existing opposition. Yet in almost all cases, says the Times, arming and training rebel forces, rather than fighting alongside them, “had a minimal impact on the long-term outcome of a conflict.”

The one time it did work, says the Times, was Afghanistan in the 1980s. But even there the local opposition wasn't working alone, and the goal wasn't to overthrow an existing leader but to wage a war of attrition against a larger Soviet army. The NYT:

“But the Afghan-Soviet war was also seen as a cautionary tale. Some of the battle-hardened mujahedeen fighters later formed the core of Al Qaeda and used Afghanistan as a base to plan the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. This only fed concerns that no matter how much care was taken to give arms only to so-called moderate rebels in Syria, the weapons could ultimately end up with groups linked to Al Qaeda, like the Nusra Front.”

If arming rebels does little to sway the outcome, that doesn't mean it's without risk. Last month, for instance, the House of Representatives gave the White House the go ahead to continue arming and training Syrian rebels.  Around the same time, the Guardian wrote that some of the weapons currently being used by ISIS fighters were originally supplied by U.S. and Saudi Arabia to rebels fighting Assad in Syria.

‘The North Star’ Amplified Black Voices. How a 2019 Reboot of Frederick Douglass’ Paper Hopes to Do the Same

Smithsonian Magazine

Four pages, two dollars, one vision: This is what hope looked like to many Americans in December 1847 when Frederick Douglass’ newspaper, The North Star, first appeared in print. The seasoned journalist, now a global crusader for the cause of abolition, poured profits from his British speaking tour into the start-up enterprise. Working with editor Martin R. Delany and others, Douglass inaugurated the press in Rochester, New York. The newspaper’s title referred to the Underground Railroad’s skyward guide, and the masthead proclaimed: “Right is of no sex–Truth is of no color–God is the father of us all, and all we are brethren.”

That sweeping directive shaped The North Star’s coverage of injustice, which often stretched across the Atlantic to cover the European revolutions of 1848. Foreign or familiar, the cause of freedom filled The North Star’s pages and inspired a transatlantic community of activist readers. “A revolution now cannot be confined to the place or the people where it may commence, but flashes with lightning speed from heart to heart, from land to land, till it has traversed the globe, compelling all the members of our common brotherhood at once, to pass judgment upon its merits,” Douglass wrote in one editorial. Describing events in Paris, his words hit home for Americans. From the beginning, Douglass’s North Star supplied news and nurtured revolution.

Building on that legacy, a modern version of The North Star launches today as a multiplatform media outlet, led by progressive journalists Shaun King and Benjamin P. Dixon, with historian Keisha N. Blain at the helm as editor in chief. Through written content, podcasts, video broadcasts, and an app, the new North Star editorial team plans to explore issues of civil rights, human rights, and social justice in America and around the world. Inspired by Douglass’ focus on “liberty, humanity, progress,” this North Star reboots the idea of grassroots journalism. “In thinking about reviving The North Star, we wanted to meet the needs of someone living in 2019,” Blain says. The North Star platform will provide a new online ecosystem for interpreting news, encouraging dialogue, and providing concrete solutions. “We are unapologetic in our stance, and I think people appreciate that,” Blain says. “If you need the tools to make your work even more effective, come here.”

In the original North Star, Douglass’s call for abolition swelled with each issue. Subscriptions grew to more than 4,000; in 1851 it merged with another abolitionist newspaper, Gerrit Smith’s Liberty Party Paper. Amid the fractious politics of the 1840s and 1850s, which saw the rise of third parties like the Know Nothings and violent clashes in Kansas and Virginia, Douglass’s North Star was a voice of moral authority. Living up to the masthead’s pledge, Douglass swung the paper’s spotlight onto the women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York, held in July 1848. “There can be no reason in the world for denying to woman the exercise of the elective franchise, or a hand in the making and administering of the laws of the land,” he wrote in a North Star editorial.

The newspaper’s vast mission, which had brought him into contact with diverse activists, worked a deep change in Douglass’ outlook. Shortly before his death, the great orator rose to address the 1888 International Council of Women, the lessons of his long years at The North Star still fresh in his mind. “When I ran away from slavery, it was for myself; when I advocated for emancipation, it was for my people,” Douglass told the crowd. “But when I stood up for the rights of women, self was out of the question, and I found a little nobility in the act.”

He gave reform-minded readers an outlet that both rivaled William Lloyd Garrison’s The Liberator, which Douglass left to start The North Star, and amplified the blossoming political power of the African-American press. Once enslaved himself —in 1838 he fled the Maryland home of his owner and settled in New England—Douglass used his publication to redefine American liberty.

“Frederick Douglass was able to teach himself to read and write over the objections of his overseer and master,” says Kenneth B. Morris, Jr., a descendant of Douglass and Booker T. Washington who serves as director of Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives. “When he escaped from slavery and began to speak out, he started to build his own strategy for the abolition of slavery. The North Star was a mouthpiece for the enslaved and the oppressed. It was an opportunity for him to speak for the voiceless. The importance of that newspaper in that time cannot be overstated.”

When Frederick Douglass began the newspaper in 1847, he changed the national conversation on race and rights. Douglass, Delany, and publisher William C. Nell carefully curated each issue, with help from transatlantic contributors and relatives who worked in the Rochester newsroom. “We’re proud of that legacy,” Morris says of The North Star’s origins. “It was a family enterprise for sure.”

According to historian Heather Cox Richardson, who studies the political thought and culture of the 19th century, The North Star gave African-Americans a public channel that hadn’t existed before. “Voices that are not heard cannot be included in American debate; they can only be reflected by those others who care about them,” she says. When Douglass chose to leave The Liberator, he turned away from the paternalism of Garrisonian abolitionism, and opened up a new path for the movement. His founding of The North Star signaled a new chapter for both the man and his mission. Frederick Douglass’ leadership of the North Star, along with his shrewd use of new forms of mass media like photography, sent a bold message about the visibility of African-American citizenship. “Only a presence in national debate can change the national narrative,” Richardson says.

Why relaunch The North Star now? “We’re in an incredibly complicated and consequential time politically,” King says. “There are lots of changes that are happening, that people are fighting for on the grassroots level, globally and politically, not just justice reform.” Critically, The North Star also aims to fill what Dixon calls “a big gaping hole” in the current media landscape, by welcoming “black voices and people of color to not only speak on our issues and community, but to speak on all issues.” As The North Star community takes shape, a blend of hope and history bolsters the project’s launch. “We’re telling the narrative from our perspective,” Dixon says. “The time has always been there.”

‘Lost’ Klimt Drawing Found in Cupboard of Museum Personal Assistant

Smithsonian Magazine

In 1951, the artist and collector Olga Jäger loaned four works—one by Gustav Klimt, three by Egon Schiele—to the Lentos Museum in Linz, Austria. More than five decades later, in 2006, her descendants tried to reclaim the pieces, but when the museum went to retrieve the works, they were nowhere to be found. Now, as the Agence France-Presse reports, the missing Klimt drawing has been discovered in an unlikely place: the cupboard of a recently deceased Lentos Museum personal assistant.

The unnamed personal assistant, who retired in 1977 and died in 2017, appears to have taken the drawing, titled "Zwei Liegende" ("Two Reclining Figures"), and hid it, reportedly leaving instructions that it should be returned to the city upon her death. The three Schiele works—a watercolor, an oil painting and a drawing—have not been found, and a spokesperson for the city of Linz said there were “no serious indications” that the secretary had also taken those items as well, according to Henri Neuendorf of artnet News.

Klimt and Schiele, radical and evocative painters who worked together in Vienna in the early 20th century, are among Austria’s best-known artists. The Lentos’ Museum’s misplacement of their work led to a protracted legal battle with Jäger’s heirs, who were ultimately awarded €8.2 million (around $10.2 million) for the loss of the works. Included in that sum was €100,000 (around $124,000) for the Klimt drawing.

Between March and May, the rediscovered work will be included in an exhibition of 76 paintings and graphics to mark the centenary of the deaths of Klimt, Schiele and ​Koloman Moser, one of the foremost artists of the Vienna Secession movement.

Museum officials believe  "Zwei Liegende" ("Two Reclining Figures") dates to 1916 or 1917, during the last creative stretch of Klimt's life, and may have been a study for "Die Freundinnen" ("Two Friends"). "What is remarkable," the museum writes about the work in a press release, "is the way the two half-naked, sleeping women subside and almost disappear into eiderdowns, cushions and plaids, which enhances the white heightening on their bare abdomen and genitalia."

After the show ends in late May, Jäger’s heirs will be reunited with the lost drawing, on the condition that they refund the money that was paid to them for it. Police, meanwhile, are still looking for the missing Schiele works. A Neuendorf police spokesperson tells the Austrian press agency APA that anyone who “may be in possession of a lost artwork should ask themselves if they are handling stolen goods, and do the reasonable thing and come forward.”

‘Life’ Magazine’s Earliest Women Photojournalists Step Into Spotlight

Smithsonian Magazine

The debut cover of LIFE magazine is dominated by the monumental spillway of Montana’s Fort Peck Dam, then under construction and poised to become the world’s largest earth-filled dam. But the eye is drawn to two humans, dwarfed by their surroundings, standing at the bottom of the shot.

The cover image is typical of its creator’s work. Dedicated to revealing both the human side of stories and the settings in which they took place—including such far-flung locales as the Soviet Union, Korea, India and North Africa—Margaret Bourke-White quickly emerged as one of LIFE’s most talented photographers after editor Henry Luce’s photography-centric weekly launched in November 1936. But today, she and the other pioneering female photojournalists who worked for LIFE during the 1930s and onto the 1970s remain little known, their iconic snapshots rendered more recognizable than their own names and histories.

LIFE: Six Women Photographers, a new exhibition on view at the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library, aims to correct this imbalance, presenting more than 70 images taken by six early photojournalists: Marie Hansen, Martha Holmes, Lisa Larsen, Nina Leen, Hansel Mieth and Bourke-White.

Marie Hansen's photograph of Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps recruits at their Des Moines training center (© LIFE Picture Collection, Meredith Corporation)

“Many of these women are not known, they’re not even in photography history books,” co-curator Marilyn Kushner tells the Guardian’s Nadja Sayej. “These women have not gotten their due, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

According to Kushner, fewer than 10 women served on LIFE’s photography staff during the time period covered by the show. (As a 2015 study found, this gender imbalance persists today, with 85 percent of 1,556 photojournalists surveyed identifying as men.) Despite their small numbers, they covered a vast array of subjects, from Hollywood’s elite to the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) formed at the height of World War II, the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings, and rampant homelessness in San Francisco and Sacramento.

As Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society, explains in a press release, “These pioneering women photographers captured events international and domestic, wide-ranging and intimate, serious and playful. At the forefront of history, [they] enabled the public ‘to see life; to see the world; to eyewitness great events,’ as LIFE founder and editor-in-chief, Henry Luce, described it.”

In addition to photographing the cover of LIFE’s first issue, Bourke-White became the first Western photographer accredited to enter the Soviet Union and the first female photographer to cover active World War II combat zones. Hansen, a Missouri native who joined LIFE in 1942, meanwhile, publicized women’s contributions to the war effort by producing a photo essay on WAAC recruits training for deployment. One image in particular, depicting a room full of gas mask-wearing trainees, is among those most widely associated with the initiative.

Image by © LIFE Picture Collection, Meredith Corporation. Lisa Larsen, photograph from “Tito As Soviet Hero, How Times Have Changed!” (original image)

Image by © LIFE Picture Collection, Meredith Corporation. Nina Leen, unpublished photograph from “American Woman’s Dilemma" (original image)

Image by © LIFE Picture Collection, Meredith Corporation. Margaret Bourke-White, photograph from “Franklin Roosevelt’s Wild West" (original image)

Three of the women featured in the exhibition—Larsen, Leen and Mieth—were born in Europe but moved to the U.S. at some point during the 1930s. Larsen, a German Jew who fled her home country after Kristallnacht, documented Yugoslavian President Josip Broz’s 1956 visit to the Soviet Union, capturing crowd shots of the hordes who flocked to the Kremlin while also managing to snap intimate portraits of the men and women who were likely in attendance under duress.

Mieth, another German-born photographer, arrived in America in the midst of the Great Depression; her “socially engaged” photo essays, in the words of the New-York Historical Society, generated sympathy for organized labor and exposed the harsh conditions prevalent across the nation. During the war, she photographed Japanese Americans incarcerated at Heart Mountain in Wyoming, and in the aftermath of the conflict, she returned to Germany to document the “psychological effects and physical damage” inflicted on her home country.

Leen, a Russian native who emigrated to New York in 1939, focused mainly on American domesticity. Her “American Woman’s Dilemma” series envisioned women as “empowered protagonists,” Timeline’s Rian Dundon writes, “emphasizing the distinct traits and desires of American teens, mothers, and busy professionals navigating the optimism and possibilities of a booming economy.” But domestic life wasn’t Leen’s only interest: Google Arts & Culture details that she was also a prolific animal photographer, often taking snapshots of her dog Lucky, and was additionally a talented group portraitist. Her photo of the so-called “Irascibles,” a group of Abstract Expressionists including Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko, aptly captured the tension existing between these avant-garde artists’ desire for career success and their disdain for the establishment.

Martha Holmes' photograph of a white woman embracing mixed-race singer Billy Eckstine (© LIFE Picture Collection, Meredith Corporation)

Holmes, the final journalist spotlighted in the exhibition, photographed celebrities including Pollock, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Judy Garland, Eleanor Roosevelt, Salvador Dali and Joan Fontaine. But she is perhaps best known for her 1950 snapshot of a white woman embracing mixed-race singer Billy Eckstine.

“When that photo was taken, they weren’t sure if they should put it into the issue—a white woman embracing a black man,” Kushner tells the Guardian’s Sayej. “But Luce put it in there because he said: ‘This is what the future is going to be. Run it.’”

At the time, the photograph attracted widespread condemnation, and Eckstine’s career was permanently damaged by the fallout. Still, Bobbi Burrows, a longtime LIFE editor who spoke to The New York Times’ Dennis Hevesi upon Holmes’ death in 2006, said that the image remained the photographer’s favorite among the thousands she had taken throughout her career.

LIFE: Six Women Photographers is on view at the New-York Historical Society through October 6, 2019.

‘Aspartame Causes Cancer' Was a Classic Internet Hoax

Smithsonian Magazine

Look, nobody’s telling you that you should drink diet beverages all the time. But when you do have a drink sweetened with aspartame, you don’t need to worry about getting cancer, multiple sclerosis or depression any more than you would with any other single substance you consume.

Aspartame was patented on this day in 1970 as Nutrasweet, one of the names it’s still sold under. Unlike that name suggests, it’s not particularly nutritious, but it’s not intrinsically bad for you like, say, smoking. Because of people’s concern around this substance, it’s been “one the most exhaustively studied substances in the human food supply,” according to the FDA. And it’s safe to consume, also according to our federal monitoring agency for foodstuffs.

The FDA is a reputable source. What didn’t come from the FDA was the mid-90s aspartame panic. Persistent rumors about aspartame’s links to seemingly every condition under the sun go back to what’s known as the “Nancy Markle” allegations: a letter that linked “ASPARTAME DISEASE!” to fibromyalgia, among other things, and said MS was methanol toxicity rather than a pernicious autoimmune disease.

It was supposedly written by Nancy Markle, who had recently “spent several days lecturing at the WORLD ENVIRONMENTAL CONFERENCE” on aspartame. A Google search of "world environmental conference" almost solely yields results related to Markle’s aspartame conference, which supposedly happened in 1995. 

The kicker: Nancy Markle never existed. The letter was written by an aspartame truther named Betty Martini, writes librarian Paul S. Piper for Western Washington University. She's still around online, if you're interested. But the letter’s use of all-caps writing and conversational (read: poorly punctuated) tone to convey “scientific” information probably looks familiar for anyone who's spent any time on the internet.

The letter made its way around the internet for years and is still around as chain mail. It's the canonical example of an internet hoax, and it spread quickly. In a very different letter printed in The Lancet, one of medicine’s foremost journals, in 1999, researchers wrote that they had found over 6,000 websites mentioning aspartame, with many saying it was the cause of “multiple sclerosis, lupus erythematosis, Gulf War Syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, brain tumors and diabetes mellitus among many others.”

The internet was relatively small back then, and it had been growing rapidly every year since 1995, according to Internet Live Stats. The aspartame hoax grew with it, as people tried to navigate this new technology. Virtually none of those 6,000 websites offered sound evidence, the Lancet researchers say, sticking to anecdotes. Some attempted to sound more scientific, by citing the chemical products created when our bodies digest aspartame: methanol and phenylalanine. That part is true. Aspartame does break down into methanol and phenylalanine. But that shouldn't be scary.

“Over time,” writes PBS in a story about aspartame misinformation, “methanol can produce the known carcinogen formaldehye. While this might seem scary, [a video released by the American Chemical Society] claims that the body actually produces and uses 1,000 times more formaldehyde than you could consume through aspartame. After helping to make important proteins, formaldehyde gets turned into formic acid and exits the body through urine.” The other chemical, phenylalanine, isn’t linked to depression, they write. And there is eight times as much of it in milk as in aspartame.

Almost 20 years after the letter, people still question aspartame. Out of all of the substances in our diet, why this one? It probably all goes back to the perception that “chemicals” are bad for you, whereas sugar, an honest, natural sweetener must be good.

While the myths about aspartame are relatively inconsequential in direct terms (the FDA isn’t going to withdraw aspartame’s approval), academic Adam Burgess writes that the public uncertainty created as a result of the aspartame myths is still an issue “in the context of the importance of promoting sugar-free alternatives, in a world where challenging obesity is a high priority.”

Editor's note: a previous version of this article stated that the medical journal The Lancet is an American journal. We regret the error.

e.e. cummings Self-Portrait

National Portrait Gallery
Poet E. E. Cummings, who famously avoided uppercase letters in his writings, declared that "poetry and every other art was and is and forever will be strictly and distinctly a question of individuality." Believing that poetry was visual as well as verbal, Cummings defied rules of punctuation, capitalization, and arrangement of words on the page in his poems of the 1920s and 1930s, offering a new literary experience for Americans. For some, he demonstrated the rich possibilities for self-expression; others he left feeling uncomfortable and annoyed. In either case, his radicalism made an indelible mark on twentieth-century letters and, in the words of one critic, extended "the capabilities of poetry" well beyond its traditional limits. As this self-portrait indicates, Cummings was also a competent painter. After serving in World War I, he studied painting in Paris and exhibited his work in New York.

bowl, tea; saucer

National Museum of American History
MARKS: Crossed swords in underglaze blue and “13” in gold (gold painter’s number).

PURCHASED FROM: Julius Carlebach, New York, 1944.

This pair of tea bowls and saucers is from the Smithsonian’s Hans Syz Collection of European Porcelain. Dr. Syz (1894-1991) began his collection in the early years of World War II, when he purchased eighteenth-century Meissen table wares from the Art Exchange run by the New York dealer Adolf Beckhardt (1889-1962). Dr. Syz, a Swiss immigrant to the United States, collected Meissen porcelain while engaged in a professional career in psychiatry and the research of human behavior. He believed that cultural artifacts have an important role to play in enhancing our awareness and understanding of human creativity and its communication among peoples. His collection grew to represent this conviction.

The invention of Meissen porcelain, declared over three hundred years ago early in 1709, was a collective achievement that represents an early modern precursor to industrial chemistry and materials science. The porcelains we see in our museum collections, made in the small town of Meissen in the German States, were the result of an intense period of empirical research. Generally associated with artistic achievement of a high order, Meissen porcelain was also a technological achievement in the development of inorganic, non-metallic materials.

The tea bowls and saucers form part of a richly decorated tea service with the tea caddy (ID number 1982.0796.08). Elaborate leaf and strapwork (Laub- und Bandelwerk)frames contain overglaze enamel painted Kauffahrtei scenes in which merchants of European and foreign origin conduct business, direct the handling of cargo, and observe shipping activity offshore.

Sources for harbor scenes came from the large number of prints after paintings by Dutch and Flemish masters of the seventeenth century that formed a major part of Meissen’s output from the early 1720s until the 1750s. The Meissen manufactory accumulated folios of prints, about six to twelve in a set, as well as illustrated books and individual prints after the work of many European artists, especially the work of Jan van Goyen (1596-1656), Jan van de Velde (1593-1641), and Johann Wilhelm Baur (d.1640). Many of these harbor and waterside scenes were imaginary, and paintings of existing locations were often altered by the artist. Meissen painters were encouraged to use their imagination in enamel painting using the prints as a guide. Printed images enriched people’s lives and a series of prints might take the viewer on a journey, real or imaginary. Prints performed a role in European visual culture later extended by photography and film, and they provided artisans and artists with images, motifs, and patterns applied in many branches of the applied arts.

The Meissen manufactory operated under a system of division of labor. Enamel painters specializing in landscapes, harbor, and river scenes with staffage (figures and animals) were paid more than those who painted flowers, fruits and underglaze blue patterns. Most painters received pay by the piece rather than a regular wage or salary. Decorative scrollwork was the responsibility of another painter specializing in this form of decoration.

Tea, coffee, chocolate, and sugar were luxury products for early eighteenth-century consumers, and the equipage for these hot beverages, made in silver and new ceramic materials like Meissen’s red stoneware and porcelain, was affordable only to the aristocratic and business elites of European society.

On graphic sources for Meissen’s painters see Möller, K. A., “’…fine copper pieces for the factory…’ Meissen Pieces Based on graphic originals” in Pietsch, U., Banz, C., 2010, Triumph of the Blue Swords: Meissen Porcelain for Aristocracy and Bourgoisie 1710-1815, pp. 84-93.

On Dutch prints see Goddard, S.H., 1984, Sets and Series: Scenes from the Low Countries; Schloss, C. S., 1982, Travel, Trade, and Temptation: The Dutch Italianate Harbor Scene.

On the painting division at Meissen see Rückert, R., 1990, Biographische Daten der Meissener Manufakturisten des 18. Jahrhunderts, pp. 134-136.

On tea, coffee, and chocolate equipage see Bowman, P.B., 1995, In Praise of Hot Liquors: The Study of Chocolate, Coffee and Tea-drinking 1600-1850

Hans Syz, J. Jefferson Miller II, Rainer Rückert, 1979, Catalogue of the Hans Syz Collection, pp. 116-117.

before Ranger Launch

National Air and Space Museum
Before Ranger launch. Sketch showing six spectators of the Ranger Launch; the three men on the bottom are seated men in uniform; man in upper center shown looking through binoculars; skin tones painted on the men; uniforms on the bottom painted a tea color.

The spring of 1962 was a busy time for the men and women of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. On February 20, John H. Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth. For the first time since the launch of Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957, the U.S. was positioned to match and exceed Soviet achievements in space. NASA was an agency with a mission -- to meet President John F. Kennedy's challenge of sending human beings to the moon and returning them safely to earth by the end of the decade. Within a year, three more Mercury astronauts would fly into orbit. Plans were falling into place for a follow-on series of two-man Gemini missions that would set the stage for the Apollo voyages to the moon.

In early March 1962, artist Bruce Stevenson brought his large portrait of Alan Shepard, the first American to fly in space, to NASA headquarters.(1) James E. Webb, the administrator of NASA, assumed that the artist was interested in painting a similar portrait of all seven of the Mercury astronauts. Instead, Webb voiced his preference for a group portrait that would emphasize "…the team effort and the togetherness that has characterized the first group of astronauts to be trained by this nation." More important, the episode convinced the administrator that "…we should consider in a deliberate way just what NASA should do in the field of fine arts to commemorate the …historic events" of the American space program.(2)

In addition to portraits, Webb wanted to encourage artists to capture the excitement and deeper meaning of space flight. He imagined "a nighttime scene showing the great amount of activity involved in the preparation of and countdown for launching," as well as paintings that portrayed activities in space. "The important thing," he concluded, "is to develop a policy on how we intend to treat this matter now and in the next several years and then to get down to the specifics of how we intend to implement this policy…." The first step, he suggested, was to consult with experts in the field, including the director of the National Gallery of Art, and the members of the Fine Arts Commission, the arbiters of architectural and artistic taste who passed judgment on the appearance of official buildings and monuments in the nation's capital.

Webb's memo of March 16, 1962 was the birth certificate of the NASA art program. Shelby Thompson, the director of the agency's Office of Educational Programs and Services, assigned James Dean, a young artist working as a special assistant in his office, to the project. On June 19, 1962 Thompson met with the Fine Arts Commission, requesting advice as to how "…NASA should develop a basis for use of paintings and sculptures to depict significant historical events and other activities in our program."(3)

David E. Finley, the chairman and former director of the National Gallery of Art, applauded the idea, and suggested that the agency should study the experience of the U.S. Air Force, which had amassed some 800 paintings since establishing an art program in 1954. He also introduced Thompson to Hereward Lester Cooke, curator of paintings at the National Gallery of Art.

An imposing bear of a man standing over six feet tall, Lester Cooke was a graduate of Yale and Oxford, with a Princeton PhD. The son of a physics professor and a veteran of the U.S. Army Air Forces, he was both fascinated by science and felt a personal connection to flight. On a professional level, Cooke had directed American participation in international art competitions and produced articles and illustrations for the National Geographic Magazine. He jumped at the chance to advise NASA on its art program.

While initially cautious with regard to the time the project might require of one of his chief curators, John Walker, director of the National Gallery, quickly became one of the most vocal supporters of the NASA art initiative. Certain that "the present space exploration effort by the United States will probably rank among the more important events in the history of mankind," Walker believed that "every possible method of documentation …be used." Artists should be expected "…not only to record the physical appearance of the strange new world which space technology is creating, but to edit, select and probe for the inner meaning and emotional impact of events which may change the destiny of our race." He urged quick action so that "the full flavor of the achievement …not be lost," and hoped that "the past held captive" in any paintings resulting from the effort "will prove to future generations that America produced not only scientists and engineers capable of shaping the destiny of our age, but also artists worthy to keep them company."(4)

Gordon Cooper, the last Mercury astronaut to fly, was scheduled to ride an Atlas rocket into orbit on May 15, 1963. That event would provide the ideal occasion for a test run of the plan Cooke and Dean evolved to launch the art program. In mid-February, Cooke provided Thompson with a list of the artists who should be invited to travel to Cape Canaveral to record their impressions of the event. Andrew Wyeth, whom the curator identified as "the top artist in the U.S. today," headed the list. When the time came, however, Andrew Wyeth did not go to the Cape for the Cooper launch, but his son Jamie would participate in the program during the Gemini and Apollo years.

The list of invited artists also included Peter Hurd, Andrew Wyeth's brother-in-law, who had served as a wartime artist with the Army Air Force; George Weymouth, whom Wyeth regarded as "the best of his pupils"; and John McCoy, another Wyeth associate. Cooke regarded the next man on the list, Robert McCall, who had been running the Air Force art program, as "America's top aero-space illustrator. Paul Calle and Robert Shore had both painted for the Air Force program. Mitchell Jamieson, who had run a unit of the Navy art program during WW II, rounded out the program. Alfred Blaustein was the only artist to turn down the invitation.

The procedures that would remain in place for more than a decade were given a trial run in the spring of 1963. The artists received an $800 commission, which had to cover any expenses incurred while visiting a NASA facility where they could paint whatever interested them. In return, they would present their finished pieces, and all of their sketches, to the space agency. The experiment was a success, and what might have been a one-time effort to dispatch artists to witness and record the Gordon Cooper flight provided the basis for an on-going, if small-scale, program. By the end of 1970, Jim Dean and Lester Cooke had dispatched 38 artists to Mercury, Gemini and Apollo launches and to other NASA facilities.

The art program became everything that Jim Webb had hoped it would be. NASA artists produced stunning works of art that documented the agency's step-by-step progress on the way to the moon. The early fruits of the program were presented in a lavishly illustrated book, Eyewitness to Space (New York: Abrams, 1971). Works from the collection illustrated NASA publications and were the basis for educational film strips aimed at school children. In 1965 and again in 1969 the National Gallery of Art mounted two major exhibitions of work from the NASA collection. The USIA sent a selection of NASA paintings overseas, while the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service created two exhibitions of NASA art that toured the nation.

"Since we …began," Dean noted in a reflection on the tenth anniversary of the program, the art initiative had resulted in a long string of positive "press interviews and reports, congressional inquiries, columns in the Congressional Record, [and] White House reports." The NASA effort, he continued, had directly inspired other government art programs. "The Department of the Interior (at least two programs), the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Army and even the Veterans Administration have, or are starting, art programs." While he could not take all of the credit, Dean insisted that "our success has encouraged other agencies to get involved and they have succeeded, too."(5)

For all of that, he noted, it was still necessary to "defend" the role of art in the space agency. Dean, with the assistance of Lester Cooke, had been a one-man show, handling the complex logistics of the program, receiving and cataloguing works of art, hanging them himself in museums or on office walls, and struggling to find adequate storage space. In January 1976, a NASA supervisor went so far as to comment that: "Mr. Dean is far too valuable in other areas to spend his time on the relatively menial …jobs he is often burdened with in connection with the art program."(6) Dean placed a much higher value on the art collection, and immediately recommended that NASA officials either devote additional resources to the program, or get out of the art business and turn the existing collection over the National Air and Space Museum, "where it can be properly cared for."(7)

In January 1974 a new building for the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) was taking shape right across the street from NASA headquarters. Discussions regarding areas of cooperation were already underway between NASA officials and museum director Michael Collins, who had flown to the moon as a member of the Apollo 11 crew. Before the end of the year, the space agency had transferred its art collection to the NASM. Mike Collins succeeded in luring Jim Dean to the museum, as well.

The museum already maintained a small art collection, including portraits of aerospace heroes, an assortment of 18th and 19th century prints illustrating the early history of the balloon, an eclectic assortment of works portraying aspects of the history of aviation and a few recent prizes, including several Norman Rockwell paintings of NASA activity. With the acquisition of the NASA art, the museum was in possession of one of the world's great collections of art exploring aerospace themes. Jim Dean would continue to build the NASM collection as the museum's first curator of art. Following his retirement in 1980, other curators would follow in his footsteps, continuing to strengthen the role of art at the NASM. Over three decades after its arrival, however, the NASA art accession of 2,091 works still constitutes almost half of the NASM art collection.

(1) Stevenson's portrait is now in the collection of the National Air and Space Museum (1981-627)

(2) James E. Webb to Hiden Cox, March 16, 1962, memorandum in the NASA art historical collection, Aeronautics Division, National air and Space Museum. Webb's preference for a group portrait of the astronauts was apparently not heeded. In the end, Stevenson painted an individual portrait of John Glenn, which is also in the NASM collection (1963-398).

(3) Shelby Thompson, memorandum for the record, July 6, 1962, NASA art historical collection, NASA, Aeronautics Division.

(4) John Walker draft of a talk, March 5, 1965, copy in NASA Art historical collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(5) James Dean, memorandum for the record, August 6, 1973, NASA art history collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(6) Director of Planning and Media Development to Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs, January 24, 1974, NASA art history collection, NASM Aeronautics Division.

(7) James Dean to the Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs, January 24, 1974, copy in NASA Art history Collection, Aeronautics Division, NASM.

Tom D. Crouch

Senior Curator, Aeronautics

National Air and Space Museum

Smithsonian Institution

July 26, 2007

Zydeco est Gumbo: An Introduction to Zydeco Music

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
In this unit, students will explore Zydeco Music and its French Canadian and Afro-Caribbean roots. Through cultural enrichment, attentive and engaged listening, stories, and dance, the students will gain a better understanding of Zydeco music in relation to its history and culture.

Zulay Frente al Siglo XXI 1989

Human Studies Film Archives
title from credits (published work)--archival collection

Supplementary materials: audio tapes, still photographs, production files, correspondence, promotional materials and press clippings.

Archives also holds English language version released under the title Zulay Facing the 21st Century.

Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research supported processing and the National Film Preservation Foundation and the Smithsonian Latino Center supported preservation of the Jorge Preloran Film Collection.

Cataloging supported by Smithsonian Institution Women's Committee

Donated by Jorge Preloran in 2007.

Edited ethnographic film, co-directed by Jorge Preloran, Mabel Preloran (an Argentine anthropologist) and Zulay Saravino (an indigenous Otavaleña of Equador) was filmed over a span of 8 years. The film is based on a dialogue between these two women as they discuss similar acculturation challenges they experienced while adapting to life in the United States. the dialogue raises universal questions on transculturation and the decisions that are faced on identity, education, economic advancement and emotional ties. The film also introduces us to the world of the indigenous Otavalo who forge an enduring cultural identity for themselves.

Zulay Facing the 21st Century 1989

Human Studies Film Archives
title from credits (published work)--archival collection

Supplementary materials: audio tapes, still photographs, production files, correspondence, promotional materials and press clippings.

Archives also holds Spanish language original released under the title Zulay Frente al Siglo XXI.

Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research supported processing and the National Film Preservation Foundation and the Smithsonian Latino Center supported preservation of the Jorge Preloran Film Collection.

Donated by Jorge Preloran in 2007.

Edited ethnographic film, co-directed by Jorge Preloran, Mabel Preloran (an Argentine anthropologist) and Zulay Saravino (an indigenous Otavaleña of Equador) was filmed over a span of 8 years. The film is based on a dialogue between these two women as they discuss similar acculturation challenges they experienced while adapting to life in the United States. the dialogue raises universal questions on transculturation and the decisions that are faced on identity, education, economic advancement and emotional ties. The film also introduces us to the world of the indigenous Otavalo who forge an enduring cultural identity for themselves.

Zitkala-Sa, Sioux Indian and activist

National Museum of American History
In addition to photographing of Sioux performers sent by Buffalo Bill Cody to the studio, Käsebier was able to arrange a portrait session with Zitkala Sa, "Red Bird," also known as Gertrude Simmons (1876-1938), a Yankton Sioux woman of Native American and white ancestry. She was born on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, like many of the Sioux traveling with the Wild West show. Well educated, she studied at reservation schools, the Carlisle Indian School, Earlham College in Indiana, and the Boston Conservatory of Music. Zitkala Sa became an accomplished author, musician, composer, and dedicated worker for the reform of United States Indian policies.

Käsebier photographed Zitkala Sa in tribal dress and western clothing, clearly identifying the two worlds in which this woman lived and worked. In many of the images, Zitkala Sa holds her violin or a book, further indicating her interests. Käsebier experimented with backdrops, including a Victorian floral print, and photographic printing. She used the painterly gum-bichromate process for several of these images, adding increased texture and softer tones to the photographs.

Zitkala Sa, Sioux Indian and activist

National Museum of American History
In addition to photographing the Sioux performers sent by Buffalo Bill Cody to her studio, Käsebier was able to arrange a portrait session with Zitkala Sa, "Red Bird," also known as Gertrude Simmons (1876-1938), a Yankton Sioux woman of Native American and white ancestry. She was born on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, like many of the Sioux traveling with the Wild West show. Well educated, she studied at reservation schools, the Carlisle Indian School, Earlham College in Indiana, and the Boston Conservatory of Music. Zitkala Sa became an accomplished author, musician, composer, and dedicated worker for the reform of United States Indian policies.

Käsebier photographed Zitkala Sa in tribal dress and western clothing, clearly identifying the two worlds in which this woman lived and worked. In many of the images, Zitkala Sa holds her violin or a book, further indicating her interests. Käsebier experimented with backdrops, including a Victorian floral print, and photographic printing. She used the painterly gum-bichromate process for several of these images, adding increased texture and softer tones to the photographs.

Zitkala Sa, Sioux Indian and activist

National Museum of American History
In addition to photographing of Sioux performers sent by Buffalo Bill Cody to her studio, Käsebier was able to arrange a portrait session with Zitkala Sa, "Red Bird," also known as Gertrude Simmons (1876-1938), a Yankton Sioux woman of Native American and white mixed ancestry. She was born on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, like many of the Sioux traveling with the Wild West show. Well educated, she studied at reservation schools, the Carlisle Indian School, Earlham College in Indiana, and the Boston Conservatory of Music. Zitkala Sa became an accomplished author, musician, composer, and dedicated worker for the reform of United States Indian policies.

Käsebier photographed Zitkala Sa in tribal dress and western clothing, clearly identifying the two worlds in which this woman lived and worked. In many of the images, Zitkala Sa holds her violin or a book, further indicating her interests. Käsebier experimented with backdrops, including a Victorian floral print, and photographic printing. She used the painterly gum-bichromate process for several of these images, adding increased texture and softer tones to the photographs.

Zingg's Tarahumara Footage 1933

Human Studies Film Archives
Cataloging supported by Smithsonian Institution Women's Committee Footage shot by anthropologist Robert Zingg in the Sierra Madre of northern Mexico of the Tarahumara (or Raramuri), most probably during Easter Week ceremonies. The syncretic rituals, dances, and costumes depicted in this "fiesta" reflect the legacy of the Tarahumara mission system as it developed under the authority of Spanish Jesuits and Franciscans during the 17th and 18th century. During Holy Week, the central theme of the Tarahumara fiesta is the conflict between God and the Devil and the necessity of restoring balance in the world. The Tarahumara are divided into soldalities as "Pharisees", allies of the Devil, and Captains or Soldiers, the allies of God. Much of what appears in Zingg's film document requires analysis in terms of this cosmological opposition. This ethnographic document opens with two lines of male dancers assembled on a patio outside of a native church. Dressed in long capes and crowns, they are seen performing a "matachin" dance accompanied by violin players. Shots of a man with a rattle intoning a praise chant (probably a "tutuburi") are followed by a procession of Pharisees and Soldiers circumambulating and entering the church. The former are identified either by hats adorned with plumed turkey feathers or white earth used to decorate their bodies or faces. Young boys (apparently being initiated as Pharisees), are shown having their bodies with white earth and being led in a dance by an adult sponsor. A second group of dancers is seen performing a "Pharisee dance" characterized by high skipping steps. Communicants are then seen filing into the church and following a processional route through archways constructed of leaves and saplings. Concludes with shots of a Tarahumara running game and various subsistence and craft activities. Footage shot among the Tarahumara (or Raramuri) of Samachique and other sites of the Sierra Madre Mountains in Chihuahua, northern Mexico, in association with Wendell Bennett. Documentation includes a mix of daily year-round activities and rituals held during Easter week. The former includes: man with children dancing a , (a man with rattle intoning a chant), various craft activities, making beer, and the pre-Columbian running game known as . Easter week footage includes the syncretic rituals, dances, and costumes which reflect the legacy of the Tarahumara mission system as it developed under the authority of Spanish Jesuits and Franciscans during the 17th and 18th century. These ritual activities reflect a cosmological opposition between God and his allies, the "soldiers," and the Devil and his allies, the "Pharisees." Tarahumara are seen performing a dance accompanied by violin players and drummers, young boys are shown having their bodies painted as part of the process of being taught how to dance--then performing a Pharisee dance, and communicants are shown filing into a native church and then following an Easter week processional route. Included are shots of yoking an ox and plowing, planting and harvesting corn, making maguey beer, spinning wool and weaving, and pottery making.

Zhangzhou ware dish

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Zebras of the Arctic: 2 Dr. Adrián Cerezo

National Museum of the American Indian
When the Saint Louis Zoo began to develop the interpretation for the McDonnell Polar Bear Point exhibition, along came a new opportunity to discuss climate change with their audiences. "Zebras in the Arctic" presents the connections and results of the journey the zoo took in coming to a First Voices approach to understanding and interpreting the significance of polar bears in the Arctic, which includes their collaboration with Smithsonian’s Arctic Studies Center and the Alaska Nanuuq Commission. In this segment, Dr. Adrián Cerezo presents a history the McDonnell Polar Bear Point exhibition, and the collaborations that emerged from the desire to take a First Voices approach to interpretation. Dr. Adrián Cerezo (Yale University) is a social ecologist, environmental scientist and human development researcher. His work interweaves scholarship and real-world practice to explore sustainable development in communities. Dr. Cerezo holds a Ph.D. with a focus on Social Ecology and Developmental Science from Yale University, where he is also a fellow at Zigler Center for Early Childhood Development Policy. He also serves as consultant for UNICEF global early childhood programs, and the City as a Living Laboratory project in New York, NY. This program was webcast and recorded at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. on July 21, 2017.

Zebras of the Arctic: 1 Blessing and Introduction, Emil Her Many Horses

National Museum of the American Indian
When the Saint Louis Zoo began to develop the interpretation for the McDonnell Polar Bear Point exhibition along came a new opportunity to discuss climate change with their audiences. "Zebras in the Arctic" presents the connections and results of the journey the zoo took in coming to a First Voices approach to understanding and interpreting the significance of polar bears in the Arctic, which includes their collaboration with Smithsonian’s Arctic Studies Center and the Alaska Nanuuq Commission. In this segment, Emil Her Many Horses (Lakota) gives a blessing for the proceedings and discusses the interpretative technique at the National Museum of the American Indian, which involves close collaboration with Native communities. Emil Her Many Horses (Lakota) is an associate curator, Museum Research and Scholarship, at NMAI. He specializes in the Central Plains cultures. Mr. Her Many Horses is a member of the Oglala Lakota nation of South Dakota and served as lead curator for the inaugural permanent exhibition, “Our Universes: Traditional Knowledge Shapes Our World”. This program was webcast and recorded at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. on July 21, 2017.

Zafarani (Iran): Ruins of Caravansarai: Ground Plan [drawing]

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
- Title is provided by Xavier Courouble, FSg Archives cataloger, based on Ernst Herzfeld original drawing's caption and Joseph Upton's Catalogue of the Herzfeld Archive.

Finding aid available in the Archives Department and on Internet http://www.asia.si.edu/archives/finding_aids/herzfeld.html#series5

Original caption on verso reads, "Zafarani, Ribat Malikshah."

- Sketchbook in Ernst Herzfeld Papers: SK-12, p.10, 11.
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