The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Category: Collections in Focus
For our next Miscellaneous Adventure, you chose to open up Record Unit 548, the National Museum of Natural History’s Division of Meteorites Correspondence Records. This collection contains incoming and outgoing correspondence and memoranda documenting the operations of the Division of Meteorites from 1970-1988.
On October 15, 1963, the National Museum of Natural History’s Department of Geology split into the Department of Mineral Sciences and the Department of Paleobiology. The new Department of Mineral Sciences had three divisions: Mineralogy, Meteorites, and Petrology. The new division of meteorites had an active staff eager to track down specimens throughout the world. This is evident in their correspondence. When you open the collection boxes, folders labeled with the names of countries around the world and the word miscellaneous peek out from within. Upon opening these folders it is easy to see the prolific efforts of staff, including Brian H. Mason, curator; Roy S. Clarke, Jr., curator; and Kurt Fredriksson, curator and geochemist. The many letters in the folders discuss the identification and acquisition of specimens, research projects, and other professional activities, providing insight into how we have tracked meteorites around the world.
Two of the larger folders in the collection were "India – Miscellaneous" and "Australia – Miscellaneous." The correspondence includes conversations about specimen recovery from the Dhajala meteorite shower and a search to locate rare Tasmanian tektites. But this time, instead of picking out a letter and telling you all about it, I have decided to let you join on the adventure. To uncover what interesting meteorite mysteries await, head over to the Smithsonian's Transcription Center to rifle through the folders containing correspondence from Australia and India. While you are there, you can try out transcribing the correspondence and find out more about meteorites found in India and Australia. Don't forget to let us know what interesting things you find on your Miscellaneous Mysteries of the Universe adventure by commenting on this post, our Facebook page, or the Transcription Center’s page. Best of luck and have fun!
As for our next adventure let us know what you would like to see next:
- Record Unit 548 - National Museum of Natural History, Division of Meteorites, Correspondence Records, circa 1970-1988, Smithsonian Institution Archives
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