Things New and Strange chronicles a research quest undertaken by G. Wayne Clough, the first secretary of the Smithsonian Institution born in the South. Soon after retiring from the Smithsonian, Clough decided to see what the Smithsonian collections could tell him about South Georgia, where he had spent most of his childhood in the 1940s and 1950s.
The investigations that followed expanded as Clough discovered that the collections had many more objects and documents from South Georgia than he had imagined. These objects illustrate important aspects of Southern culture and history and also inspire reflections about how South Georgia has changed over time.
Clough’s discoveries—animal, plant, fossil and rock specimens, along with cultural artifacts and works of art—not only serve as a springboard for reflections about the region and its history, but also bring Clough’s own memories of his boyhood in Douglas back to life. Clough interweaves memories of his own experiences with anecdotes from family lore.