Smithsonian Institution Archives

Smithsonian Institution Archives The Smithsonian Institution Archives, part of the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives, collects, preserves, and makes available the history of the Smithsonian Institution.

Legal: s.si.edu/Legal Website: siarchives.si.edu Welcome to the Smithsonian Institution Archives' (SIA) page. We hope you'll join us here on Facebook and check out our profiles on Flickr and SIA's official blog, THE BIGGER PICTURE: http://siarchives.si.edu/blog. We hope you’ll contribute to this interactive forum and to our ongoing conversation about the work we do to further the Smithsonian's mission to increase and diffuse knowledge. While on-topic discussion is encouraged, we ask that you express yourself in a civil manner and treat other users with respect. The Smithsonian also monitors and may remove posts consistent with its terms of use, as described at http://si.edu/Termsofuse#user-gen. For our Privacy Policy: http://www.si.edu/Privacy

Operating as usual

What types of music bring you comfort? Surprising literally no one, we’re pretty into "The Smithsonian Polka." It was co...
11/12/2020

What types of music bring you comfort? Surprising literally no one, we’re pretty into "The Smithsonian Polka."

It was composed by W. Bergman, a D.C. music teacher, likely to commemorate the opening of the Smithsonian Castle.

Listen to the tune and explore a few more of our favorite digital items in our collections on today’s blog → s.si.edu/3lu4eyr

Louis R. Purnell, Smithsonian’s first African American curator, was an original member of the Tuskegee Airmen. During Wo...
11/10/2020

Louis R. Purnell, Smithsonian’s first African American curator, was an original member of the Tuskegee Airmen.

During World War II, he flew 88 combat missions over North Africa, Italy, and Germany. → s.si.edu/3197szJ #ArchivesVeterans

School is now in session. ✏️🍎This week's #SmithsonianOpenAccess puzzle is taking us back to school. This New England sch...
11/09/2020

School is now in session. ✏️🍎

This week's #SmithsonianOpenAccess puzzle is taking us back to school. This New England schoolroom was part of the Hall of Everyday Life in Early America, which opened at
Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in 1957. → s.si.edu/38qOUiz

Having trouble focusing today? You're not alone. Take a short break with this week’s #SmithsonianOpenAccess puzzle, feat...
11/03/2020

Having trouble focusing today? You're not alone. Take a short break with this week’s #SmithsonianOpenAccess puzzle, featuring the Statue of Freedom model that was on display at the Smithsonian between 1900 and 1967.

🧩 → s.si.edu/3mUQT2F

11/03/2020
National Museum of American History

National Museum of American History

As we were developing our exhibition, "American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith" we asked our visitors to reflect on why they vote, what it means to them, and how voting affects the nation's democracy. As this year's campaign season comes to an end, we wanted to share their responses.

You can explore the exhibition online here: http://s.si.edu/american-democracy

Interested in participating in this year's election? Government agencies like the U.S. Election Assistance Commission can provide useful information, from voter registration lookups to polling place locations: https://www.eac.gov/

Before Election Day, let’s take a look back at “The Right to Vote,” a 1972–74 exhibition at Smithsonian's National Museu...
11/02/2020

Before Election Day, let’s take a look back at “The Right to Vote,” a 1972–74 exhibition at Smithsonian's National Museum of American History that traced the history of voting rights in the United States

It was scheduled to coincide with the 1972 presidential election and explored suffrage for women, African Americans, Native Americans, soldiers, immigrants, and beyond. → s.si.edu/2GkaRUD #VoteHistory

Smithsonian’s evening guards have seen things. Haunted things. 👻 They've reported spotting bronze animal statues that co...
10/30/2020

Smithsonian’s evening guards have seen things. Haunted things. 👻 They've reported spotting bronze animal statues that come alive, the ghost of Secretary Joseph Henry, and a museum aide with long, white hair roaming around in a nightgown.

Okay, that last one is 100% real.

In her later years, museum aide Jesse Beach basically moved into Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, where she often spooked guards by wandering around at night.

Things got slightly more awkward one evening when a guard walked in on her taking a bath in the geology lab. Thanks to Beach’s wanderings, Smithsonian Secretary Alexander Wetmore began requiring museum staff to start going home by midnight.

Head to our blog for more spooky reports and ghostly encounters at the Smithsonian. → s.si.edu/34HMslt (📷:80-20128) #MuseumTrickOrTreat

Each week on the blog, we spotlight women who have been influential at the Smithsonian and in their fields. In most case...
10/28/2020

Each week on the blog, we spotlight women who have been influential at the Smithsonian and in their fields. In most cases, they have not been fully recognized for their work.

Today, read about Dr. Carol F. Jopling, chief librarian at Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, 1981-84, and an expert on the anthropological study of architecture. → s.si.edu/35NwINc
(📷: Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute)

We know it’s Monday morning, but why the long, er, neck? This photograph of Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural His...
10/26/2020

We know it’s Monday morning, but why the long, er, neck?

This photograph of Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History’s Diplodocus, a 70-foot-long sauropod, has recently been designated as #SmithsonianOpenAccess. Piece it together.

🧩 → s.si.edu/3mhPfrk

Photos from Smithsonian Institution Archives's post
10/26/2020

Photos from Smithsonian Institution Archives's post

We weren’t about to just let Open Access Week slip by without adding hundreds of ✨brand new✨ images to the #SmithsonianO...
10/23/2020

We weren’t about to just let Open Access Week slip by without adding hundreds of ✨brand new✨ images to the #SmithsonianOpenAccess portal.

These photographs of "1876: A Centennial Exhibition" in the 1970s are a few of our favorites. Explore more → s.si.edu/3mkyifN #OAWeek

On this day in 1746, Princeton University was chartered. One hundred years later, the chair of the university’s natural ...
10/22/2020

On this day in 1746, Princeton University was chartered.

One hundred years later, the chair of the university’s natural history department was appointed first Secretary of the Smithsonian. Learn more about Joseph Henry on our site → s.si.edu/3koz2ju (📷:SIA2009-1254)

The Smithsonian has a long history of studying, caring for, and educating the public about sloths. 🦥Skeletal remains of ...
10/20/2020

The Smithsonian has a long history of studying, caring for, and educating the public about sloths. 🦥

Skeletal remains of extinct giant sloth species have been exhibited at the Institution since the late 19th century, and the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute has been home to living sloths since around 1900. Learn more on our blog for #InternationalSlothDay → s.si.edu/2T97wKP

10/16/2020
ODI Fridays: Maintaining the archive for the world’s largest museum complex

❓: "What are your favorite pieces in the Archives?”

A: “It’s hard not to love...everything.”

We felt that. ❤️ Our staff spoke with Open Data Institute about how we rely on data in our work. Watch it now → s.si.edu/354LoqP

What kind of work goes into maintaining the archives responsible for capturing the history of the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex? St...

The Smithsonian Marine Station, part of Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, was established in Florida on ...
10/16/2020

The Smithsonian Marine Station, part of Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, was established in Florida on this day in 1971. 🌊

Listen to clips from oral history interviews with the station’s founding director and the first woman to direct a science unit at the Smithsonian, Dr. Mary E. Rice → s.si.edu/3j5mf4b

Our reading room might be closed, but our reference staff has not stopped answering your questions. Read about a few of ...
10/15/2020

Our reading room might be closed, but our reference staff has not stopped answering your questions.

Read about a few of the topics researchers have been exploring, some images in our collections that will be featured in upcoming publications, and virtual resources → s.si.edu/2H2n2px

There was drama. There was adventure. There were menial administrative tasks! 🦕This #NationalFossilDay, learn about the ...
10/14/2020

There was drama. There was adventure. There were menial administrative tasks! 🦕

This #NationalFossilDay, learn about the origins of the Smithsonian’s fossil collections and the history of some of the specimens on display in #DeepTime at Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History → s.si.edu/3k1P96G

In between endless snack breaks, we’ve been busy making our collections more digitally available to you. We’ve recently ...
10/13/2020

In between endless snack breaks, we’ve been busy making our collections more digitally available to you. We’ve recently added:

🔸 3,120 historical images
🔸 696 new or revised finding aids
🔸 37 finding aids with new links to digitized materials

More details on the blog → s.si.edu/3lKSDuO

Earlier this week, the National Audubon Society published a piece on Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History or...
10/08/2020

Earlier this week, the National Audubon Society published a piece on Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History ornithologist Roxie Laybourne, who pioneered the study of forensic ornithology. The author used audio from oral history interviews in our collections to tell Laybourne's story. → www.audubon.org/news/the-remarkable-life-roxie-laybourne

"Whatever frustrations Laybourne felt as a woman in science were channeled into her work. It wasn’t enough to do a better job than everyone else; Laybourne wanted to do work that other people simply couldn’t do."

(📷:SIA2014-07421, SIA2014-07441, SIA2014-07390)

Today marks the anniversary of the 1968 opening ceremonies for National Portrait Gallery. 🎉Portraits were among the earl...
10/05/2020

Today marks the anniversary of the 1968 opening ceremonies for National Portrait Gallery. 🎉

Portraits were among the earliest works that the Smithsonian acquired in the 1840s. However, it was not until 1962 that the United States Congress officially established the National Portrait Gallery as a bureau of the Smithsonian.

The Gallery’s first exhibition opened in 1965 in the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building, and, by 1968, visitors could explore the collections in the Gallery’s present space in the historic Patent Office Building, which it shares with Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery. → s.si.edu/3d2Kvm7 (📷:94-13189)

10/02/2020

Mark your calendars (might we suggest using a pencil)! ✏️

Next Wednesday, October 7, our team will be ready to answer all of your burning questions for #AskAnArchivist Day on Instagram and Twitter.

Need some inspiration? Read last year’s recap → s.si.edu/30phw73 #AmericanArchivesMonth

This #InternationalPodcastDay, revisit Smithsonian's Sidedoor Podcast episodes that feature Archives staff and collectio...
09/30/2020
Ep. 1 | If These Bones Could Talk

This #InternationalPodcastDay, revisit Smithsonian's Sidedoor Podcast episodes that feature Archives staff and collections.

Roxie Laybourne → s.si.edu/3bfHWvi
Smokey Bear → s.si.edu/34daH9x
Megatherium Club → s.si.edu/2SfAfNP
S. Dillon Ripley → s.si.edu/2YmIMmu

Learn more about Ep. 1 | If These Bones Could Talk

Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
09/30/2020
Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

We are excited to announce Kevin Young, director of the
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library, will become the new director of our Museum, effective Jan. 11, 2021. He succeeds the founding director, Lonnie G. Bunch III, who is now the Secretary of the Smithsonian.

More: http://s.si.edu/2EPVX82

In 1823, Smithsonian founding donor James Smithson published "An Improved Method of Making Coffee." ☕️Fortunately, Smith...
09/29/2020

In 1823, Smithsonian founding donor James Smithson published "An Improved Method of Making Coffee." ☕️

Fortunately, Smithsonian Magazine tried the English chemist's technique, so you don't have to. → s.si.edu/2S8SOD9 #NationalCoffeeDay

On this day in 1999, several hundred people gathered on the National Mall for the groundbreaking of Smithsonian's Nation...
09/28/2020

On this day in 1999, several hundred people gathered on the National Mall for the groundbreaking of Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian. At the ceremony, Museum founding director W. Richard West shared what the new space meant for Native Americans and their histories. “For Indian America, this hemispheric Institution of living cultures represents a seminal occasion to reconcile a present and future with an often troubled and tumultuous past.”

Learn more about the history of the Museum on our website → s.si.edu/3kFVTqL (📷:SIA2013-07855)

We’re diving back into the Hungerford Deed, a document that reveals the roots of Smithsonian founding donor James Smiths...
09/25/2020

We’re diving back into the Hungerford Deed, a document that reveals the roots of Smithsonian founding donor James Smithson’s wealth. We still don’t know why the English scientist donated his fortune to the United States, but thanks to the Deed, we have a better sense of where that money came from.

This week on the blog, we explored one of the properties mentioned in the Deed, where members of the Hungerford family, Smithson's ancestors, lived, loved, and sued each other. ❤️ s.si.edu/3ctLbk4

09/24/2020
Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been four years since Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture opened to the public on this day in 2016.

The historic day was the culmination of a century of efforts to establish an African American history museum on the National Mall. → s.si.edu/2mA2Fob

“When we created this museum we knew there was no post-racial America... it had to be more than a monument to the past, we wanted it to be a place for reconciliation and healing." - Lonnie G. Bunch III, Smithsonian Secretary & NMAAHC Founding Director

On September 24, 2016, our Museum opened its doors to the world, becoming the largest cultural destination devoted to exploring the American story through the African American lens. Our Museum building is African American history and culture writ large on the National Mall. Its location and its design represent the past, present, and future of the African American experience in ways tangible and symbolic. #APeoplesJourney #ANationsStory

Smithsonian Transcription Center
09/23/2020

Smithsonian Transcription Center

Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History Archaeologists Ralph and Rose Solecki - who met and married as Columbia University graduate students - conducted multiple excavations in northern Iraq in the 1950 and 1960s, uncovering nine Neanderthal skeletons, two Proto-Neolithic sites, and artifacts spanning over 65,000 years of human prehistory.

Their archeological discoveries at Shanidar Cave and the Zawi Chemi Shanidar sites in Iraq fundamentally changed the way that anthropologists understand human evolution, Neanderthal culture, and the development of animal domestication.

Now you can help anthropologists and other researchers around the world learn even more about human prehistory by transcribing archaeological data cards from the Ralph and Rose Solecki Papers, held in the National Anthropological Archives -> https://transcription.si.edu/project/29072.

We join the nation in remembering the life and legacy of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.On October 1, 1993, S...
09/23/2020

We join the nation in remembering the life and legacy of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

On October 1, 1993, Smithsonian Photographic Services staff were in the courtroom to document her formal investiture ceremony. (📷:93-13527A-08)

We’ve been waiting for you, autumn. 🍁🍂 Dr. Leo J. Hickey, curator and research scientist in paleobiology at Smithsonian'...
09/22/2020

We’ve been waiting for you, autumn. 🍁🍂

Dr. Leo J. Hickey, curator and research scientist in paleobiology at Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History from 1969 to 1982, revolutionized the study of fossil leaves by conducting a comprehensive study of leaf vein patterns in living plants and using those patterns to identify and classify fossils. → s.si.edu/301mK8F #FirstDayOfFall

Happy 16th birthday to Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. 🎉In 2004, the D.C. museu...
09/21/2020

Happy 16th birthday to Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. 🎉

In 2004, the D.C. museum’s opening day kicked off with the Native Nations Procession, the largest known gathering of Native American peoples in modern history. The event featured 25,000 representatives of more than 500 tribes and Native communities. → s.si.edu/3kFVTqL

Smithsonian
09/21/2020

Smithsonian

We remember Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Ginsburg was serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia when President Bill Clinton nominated her in 1993, making her the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

This 1996 portrait by Everett Raymond Kinstler is in our National Portrait Gallery's collection.

Photos from Smithsonian Institution Archives's post
09/21/2020

Photos from Smithsonian Institution Archives's post

Each week, we share links to cool digital projects from other archives, libraries, museums, and beyond in a blog series ...
09/18/2020

Each week, we share links to cool digital projects from other archives, libraries, museums, and beyond in a blog series called #LinkLove.

Meet the scientists behind #BlackMammalogistsWeek, stream Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art's Sufi music festival, explore New York Botanical Garden’s “Black Botany” exhibit, & more → s.si.edu/3iK6ksG (📷:89-11184)

09/17/2020

One way we preserve Latinx history at the Smithsonian is by capturing the Smithsonian Latino Center’s website.

Did you know that the Center launched the Latino Virtual Museum in Second Life in 2009? We’re exploring that and more on the blog → s.si.edu/32FGzUU #WebArchiving #HispanicHeritageMonth

Address

Capital Gallery, 600 Maryland Ave SW, Suite 3000
Washington D.C., DC
20024

The Smithsonian Institution Archives is located in the Capital Gallery Building, Suite 3000 located at 600 Maryland Avenue SW, Washington, DC, 20024. Capital Gallery is one block south of the National Mall on the corner of Maryland Avenue and 7th Street, Southwest. There is an entrance to L'Enfant Plaza Metro Station just outside the building, and the Archives is on the third floor. Metro: The best way to get to the Archives is by taking Metrorail, Washington, DC’s subway system. Use L’Enfant Plaza station, on Metrorail's Blue, Orange, Yellow, and Green lines, and take the Maryland Avenue and 7th Street, SW exit. This will place you directly in front of the Capital Gallery Building. Simply take the elevator to the third floor to reach the Archives. For a Metrorail map and more information, visit the Metro Website www.wmata.com. Bus: Metrobus links Washington with nearby communities in Maryland and Virginia, and has stops near the Archives. The D.C. Circulator bus also offers a quick and convenient service to the Archives via the Circulator’s Convention Center - SW Waterfront line. More information is here: http://siarchives.si.edu/about/contact-us

General information

The Archives is open to all researchers (except children under twelve). Business hours are Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m., except for Federal holidays. Prior to your visit, we ask that you review the Collections Access Policies (http://siarchives.si.edu/services/collections-access-policies) and contact us to ensure that pertinent records are available during your visit.

Opening Hours

Monday 09:00 - 17:00
Tuesday 09:00 - 17:00
Wednesday 09:00 - 17:00
Thursday 09:00 - 17:00
Friday 09:00 - 17:00

Telephone

(202) 633-5870

Alerts

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Videos


Comments

President John F. Kennedy By Artist Chester Davis
Good morning, I am looking for pictures of the soldiers during the First and Second World War of Andernach during the occupation were made! Can you help me with this ?! Thanks Andreas Heissbach
A Civil War era letter that appears to describe the January 1865 Smithsonian fire is up for auction on eBay:
Secrets of Physical Radiesthesia /The Roman Rod/
Thought you guys might enjoy this rendition of America's oldest murder ballad, Omie Wise. Happy Halloween from Banjo Earth!
I should think that, with digital technology as good as it is and widely available and easy to use, the Smithsonian could digitally catalog everything in its vast warehouses and make it all available for free online viewing. If it's just a matter of photographing it all and scanning it, I'm sure you could find hundreds of people who would volunteer to do it--including me!
does your institute house british guiana artifacts?....if yes,can you educate me the reason for some british guiana passports having names of persons knighted by the queen of england?