Spotlight: Dogs in Airbrush

Airbrushing was an early method of retouching and coloring photographs which can be traced back as far as the late 1800s. It is a unique process which creates a beautiful matte effect, causing images to look as though they are caught somewhere between photograph and painting. While the technology is still employed today, in the … Continue reading Spotlight: Dogs in Airbrush

Photographs of Military Mascots in WWI

Years before the United States Marine Corps officially adopted the bulldog as its mascot or the United States Military academy adopted the mule, many military regiments adopted mascots and pets. Some were donated by local groups and many were found. Many of these mascots had jobs, whether utilitarian or ceremonial. Pigeons carried messages, dogs helped … Continue reading Photographs of Military Mascots in WWI

Historic Maps and Photos of the National Zoo

This post was written in collaboration with Carla Simms The National Zoo in Washington D.C. is one of the capital’s most celebrated landmarks.  The zoo was created by an act of congress in 1889, and officially made a bureau of the Smithsonian Institution the following year.  Since its founding, the zoo has been a pioneer in … Continue reading Historic Maps and Photos of the National Zoo

A Medal for Miss Baker, the Original Space Monkey

As I am writing this, there are six people in space, all aboard the International Space Station. While these missions are now routine, in the 1950s scientists weren’t certain that the human body could survive in a weightless environment. Years before the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) sent Alan Shepard into space, American rockets carried … Continue reading A Medal for Miss Baker, the Original Space Monkey

Playing Fetch with Pilot Whales: The Navy’s Project Deep Ops

Back in June, we published a post about animals in the military. It featured war dogs, bat and pigeon bombs, and monkey saboteurs. We thought we’d covered everything, but almost as soon as that post was published, we digitized a film for our research room that highlights torpedo-retrieving whales. One of these whales is Ahab. … Continue reading Playing Fetch with Pilot Whales: The Navy’s Project Deep Ops