What is the Smithsonian Archives? The Smithsonian Archives is like America’s storage room. Things get preserved there and stored for generations of America. They preserve historical documents, photos, films, anything. Here are some few weird and creepy things America has in its’ storage.
Creeping Baby Doll patent. Did you know that in early America, parents did not let their babies crawl because it was thought of as animal-like? This toy was made around the mid-19th century when crawling just started to be seen as an acceptable step in childhood development.
How would you like this thing crawling at you?
Well, what is worse? This creeping baby doll or the world’s first talking doll that looks and sounds like this:
Jack and Jill went up the hill… TO NEVER BE SEEN AGAIN
Made in 1888 and released in 1890, Edison’s talking dolls are thought to be the first recorded women’s voices to ever be massed produced. Coincidentally, the talking doll records are being preserved for all time in the National Recording Registry. More on that wonderful program in a later blog post.
The Freeman/Lozier library has a great book on Thomas Edison and his other interventions that weren’t flops like this one. It also explores other inventors. If women inventors are more your speed, of course we have a book for that, too.
Okay, let’s get away from dolls. Please.
Onto exploding condiments. The fermenting skins and cores of tomatoes were used to make ketchup and were libel to explode in the bottle. Luckily, that ketchup-making practice stopped in 1906 and now you do not have to be worried about slipping in discharged ketchup in the condiment aisle in the grocery store. But we can still remember the explosive stuff thanks to photos like this:
The Smithsonian Archives are way more than just paper, pictures, and audio recordings. They have every single thing you can think of that somehow relates to America. Letters, vaccines and medicines, signs, cosmetics, and clothing and accessories.
Which brings me to the first commercial microwave available for homes manufactured in 1955.
This cost more than a house payment!
It sold for $1,295. Which, adjusting for inflation, would be $13, 191.75 in today’s money. Well, I think it’s pretty cool to think about how the microwave, which is so mundane now, was the latest and greatest thing in the kitchen when I can now go to Target and get one for about $70.
I will now leave you with one more weird and creepy item in archives and that is… various hair clippings of past presidents. Here is FDR’s from 1886:
Yes, that’s really his. This is what he looked like when he was just a little lad:
So now we have more than enough samples to clone President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Okay, this one is cheating a bit since this lock of Lincoln’s hair is in Chicago but I am still counting it because it creeps me out… but not as much as the dolls.
Read more about presidential hair here.