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Biodiversity Heritage Library’s Women in Natural History Collection

Need a dose of nature, but unable to visit your local park (or keep your houseplants alive)? The Biodiversity Heritage Library is here to help. Created with support from the Smithsonian Libraries in 2006, the Biodiversity Heritage Library strives to improve access to natural history literature. The archive offers digital access to millions of pages of scientific literature—including a vast collection of gorgeous botanical illustrations. In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Biodiversity Heritage Library curated a Flickr collection titled “Women Illustrators In Natural History.” The images span more than 300 years of botanical illustrations, plus sketches of birds, insects, shells, and more. You can participate in the project by helping to tag the nearly 10,000 images with their scientific names. Or you can simply scroll through the images as a temporary replacement for Instagram or Twitter. Once you’ve soaked up inspiration from colorful cacti, dandelions, and butterflies, you can test your own artistic skills. Break out your stash of markers, crayons, and colored pencils, then download one (or all!) of the Biodiversity Heritage Library’s free coloring books. (Google “Color Our Collections + BHL.”) The page links to four different printable coloring books, plus an additional Flickr collection chock full of black and white illustrations. Artists of all ages can simply print them out and color to their heart’s content. The illustrations are available at biodiversitylibrary.org and flickr.com/photos/biodivlibrary. Free. —Michelle Delgado


D.C. soul musician Marvin Gaye achieved fame after he moved to Detroit, where he joined Motown, but many others stayed here or moved elsewhere and received little acclaim. From 2012 to 2014, photographer and soul music fan Eli Kaplan, who moved to the District in 2009, began to give some old-school D.C. soul artists attention via his new photos of the performers and biographies that he placed on his Soul51 website (tagline: “Taxation without representation. At least we got soul”). After getting leads from Kevin Coombe’s then-website DC Soul Recordings (now on Instagram) and the Facebook group DC Funk and Harmony, Kaplan began seeking out the likes of the El Corols Band and Show, Al Johnson, and The Jewels. Kaplan says some of the individuals had not appeared together for a photo in 40 years, and now some have since passed away. The photos, at locations including the Panorama Room in Southeast D.C., are all expertly shot. From the site, you can click on links and hear the acts as well as learn how the Jewels toured with James Brown, and what some D.C. soul artists did after the genre receded from the spotlight. Learn how Herb Feemster of Peaches & Herb had a top 40 disco hit, “Shake Your Groove Thing,” and later became a security officer. All the posts are available at soul51.com. Free. —Steve Kiviat

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