The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Searching the Archives’ Collections
As mentioned in recent posts, the Smithsonian Institution Archives has redesigned our website. We have expanded the resources available on the web, increased the amount of electronic records on display, and created new resources to help visitors understand the history and mission of the Smithsonian.
We recently highlighted some of the new history resources and reference service resources available to you. Additionally, some of the most improved aspects of the new site are its navigation and searching capabilities. I’d like to show you how visitors can search a specific topic, person, or museum using the new features on the site. For this little exercise, I decided to search for the Smithsonian’s sixth Secretary: Alexander Wetmore. Not only is he an interesting person, but the Archives also house numerous materials relating to his career as both an administrator and ornithologist.
The first place to start your search (unless you know where you want to go on the website) is in the search toolbar at the top right of the home page. Type in the term you want to search, for example “Alexander Wetmore” and hit enter or click on the Search button.
The search will send you to a results page that contains two options.
The first tab, “Site,” shows results across the site containing your search term. These results include blog posts, webpages, and forum posts that mention your search term.
The second tab, “Collections,” displays results that focus the search on the Archives’ collections, and include finding aids and images. You can also choose to browse through the collections search by clicking on the link found under the search bar.
Another place to look for resources is through the Smithsonian History tab on the site’s home page.
Here you can find information about the Institution’s museums; research centers; important programs; and the people who have, and continue to serve, the Smithsonian. For example, information about Alexander Wetmore can be found under both the History page’s resources and exhibits navigations.
As Wetmore was a Secretary of the Institution, he has an entire page dedicated to his career in our “Secretaries of the Smithsonian” resource.
While under the exhibit pages, Wetmore’s ornithological work in Latin America is detailed in the online exhibit “150 Years of Smithsonian Research in Latin America.” From general to specific, the new website’s navigation offers multiple ways to access the Archives’ collections. So jump in and get your search on!