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July 2019

History

The History of the Tour de France Yellow Jersey | History

Smithsonian
SMITHSONIAN.COM | July 17, 2019, 12:24 p.m. The iconic Tour de France yellow jersey began on a whim. At the inception of the 5,560-kilometer cycling competition in 1903, no clear indicator existed that showed who was winning the competition: the leader received only a green armband that journalists covering the......
History

Before Going to the Moon, Apollo 11 Astronauts Trained at These Five Sites | Travel

Smithsonian
Before Neil Armstrong could take his “small step for a man” on July 20, 1969, he and the rest of the Apollo 11 crew underwent a rigorous regimen of training to prepare for their mission to the moon. While much of their instruction took place inside the classroom and at......
History

One Hundred Years Ago, a Four-Day Race Riot Engulfed Washington, D.C. | History

Smithsonian
By all accounts, the 1919 Fourth of July celebration in Washington, D.C., was one for the ages. Coming right on the heels of the end of the Great War, and with President Woodrow Wilson’s League of Nations peace plan still very much alive, Independence Day was a symbolic coming out......
History

Literary Treasures: Joseph Brodsky Reads His Poetry at the Library of Congress, 1992

Anne Holmes
The following is a guest post by Joyce Hida, a summer intern in the Poetry and Literature Center. It is part of our monthly series, “Literary Treasures,” which highlights audio and video recordings drawn from the Library’s extensive online collections, including the Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature. By showcasing the......
History

The Best Books About the Apollo Program and Landing on the Moon | Science

Smithsonian
Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control From Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond While the astronauts flew in space, Mission Control closely monitored from the ground. Coordinating with radio stations in California, Spain and Australia to provide 24-hour communications and telemetry data during the Apollo missions, “Houston”—as the astronauts......
History

When Ancient DNA Gets Politicized | History

Smithsonian
With a string of three tweets, ten ancient skeletons became geopolitical pawns. Last weekend, Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, or whoever in his administration operates his Twitter account, tweeted about a new study that had been published in the journal Science Advances and covered widely in the media, including......
History

Apollo Engineers Discuss What It Took to Land on the Moon | Science

Smithsonian
After the 1972 conclusion of the Apollo program, a group of about 30 NASA thoughtleaders sequestered themselves for a few days on Caltech’s sunny campus. They reviewed what they had accomplished and tried to grapple with exactly how they had pulled off the challenge of the century: landing humans on......
History

Why Don’t People Smile in Old Photographs? And More Questions From Our Readers | At the Smithsonian

Smithsonian
Q: Why don’t people smile in old photographs? — Art Ross | Kingwood, Texas Although we tend to think the subjects had to hold their faces still for an uncomfortably long time, exposures from the early days of commercial photography only lasted about 5 to 15 seconds. The real reason......
History

While NASA Was Landing on the Moon, Many African-Americans Sought Economic Justice Instead | History

Smithsonian
In anticipation of astronaut Neil Armstrong’s first step on the moon, an estimated 8,000 New Yorkers gathered in Central Park, eager to celebrate the moment. The New York Times ran a photograph of the crowd glued to the networks’ broadcasts on three giant screens and described the event as “a......
History

The Delicious, Ancient History of Chocolate and Vanilla | History

Smithsonian
Of all the great debates—Coke versus Pepsi, boxers versus briefs, shaken versus stirred—few have been more polarizing than chocolate versus vanilla. Those of us aligned with chocolate—the product of ground, roasted cacao beans—find it warm, comforting, ambrosial, and generally dismiss all things unchocolate as “vanilla,” meaning bland and boring. Those......
History

When 6-Year-Olds Chose Jury Candidates | History

Smithsonian
Following the advent of the American court system and continuing into the 20th century, many jurisdictions needed a way to select candidates for a jury that would at least superficially appear unbiased. Although today algorithms choose from a list of eligible citizens, for a brief period, some states relied on......
History

When Twister Was Too Risqué for America | Innovation

Smithsonian
The original box for the game Twister was jarring in its conservatism. Although the game was marketed mostly to kids and teens, emblazoned across the promotional material for its 1966 launch were cartoon adults wearing fancy clothes entirely impractical for playing the game. Also inexplicably for a game premised on......
History

A Brief History of Smokey Bear, the Forest Service’s Legendary Mascot | History

Smithsonian
Last year, the deadliest wildfire season in state history swept across California. More than 8,000 fires burned nearly two million acres and cost hundreds of millions of dollars to suppress.* In a matter of minutes, a town named Paradise was engulfed in flame and almost completely destroyed; 85 people died.......
History

Danny Thompson’s Blazing Nitromethane-Fueled Pursuit of Racing Glory | History

Smithsonian
In the middle of the course, over that flying mile, Mickey Thompson’s speed was about equal to the muzzle velocity of a bullet fired from a lightly loaded small-caliber pistol: 406.60 miles per hour. This was September 9, 1960, on the Bonneville Salt Flats. He became the fastest man in......
History

How a Voyage to French Polynesia Set Herman Melville on the Course to Write ‘Moby-Dick’ | Arts & Culture

Smithsonian
1 This is the tale of a man who fled from desperate confinement, whirled into Polynesian dreamlands on a plank, sailed back to “civilization,” and then, his genius predictably unremunerated, had to tour the universe in a little room. His biographer calls him “an unfortunate fellow who had come to......
History

From the Family Station Wagon to the Apollo Lunar Rover, My Dad’s Engineering Talent Had No Limits | Innovation

Smithsonian
The lunar rover may not have roamed the moon’s surface on the day Apollo 11 made history, but its design had already crystallized by the time Neil Armstrong planted his feet in the Sea of Tranquility. On July 20, 1969, our family gathered around the TV in our northern Virginia......
History

Laureate Power! | From the Catbird Seat: Poetry & Literature at the Library of Congress

Rob Casper
22nd U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith celebrates the conclusion of her laureateship in a conversation with state, city and county poets laureate Jeanetta Calhoun Mish (Oklahoma), Kealoha (Hawaii), Adrian Matejka (Indiana), Tina Chang (Brooklyn, NY) and Vogue Robinson (Clark County, NV), in a conversation moderated by Jennifer Benka, president......

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