Charles Doolittle Walcott (1850-1927) family campsite in the Canadian Rockies, 1910. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7004, Image no. SIA2008-1903.

Camping Out, Smithsonian-Style

See how Smithsonian scientists have always been willing to do what is needed to further their research—including camping in all conditions!

It’s National Camping Month—and to help celebrate, we’ve pulled together some of our images of collecting scientists out in the field. While modern campers have engineered waterproof clothing and sleeping bags, GPS and cell phones for navigation and communication, and all-terrain vehicles for getting where they want to go, for most of the Smithsonian’s 175-year history, field scientists relied on much more basic technology. I’ve been struck by descriptions of camps and accommodations as I have helped write project descriptions for the Smithsonian Transcription Center. I’m not much of a camper myself, but I am amazed by the dedication of these early Smithsonian scientists! From folks roughing it in rural Mexico and China to glamping around a dining table in the Canadian Rockies, our scientists and their records have seen it all.

Mexico, c. 1890s-1900s - Camp in oak forest, lower California. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7364, Image no. SIA2011-1976.

Hayden Survey Party Camp at Ogden, Utah, 1872. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7177, Image no. SIA2018-111381.

Photographs of United States Biological Survey Staff and Field Work. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7172, Image no. SIA2015-009679.

Members of the 1870 U.S. government survey of the Yellowstone River and Rocky Mountains led by Ferdinand Hayden, 1870. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Accession 90-105, Image no. SIA2008-4325.

Mrs. McCoy and Miss Sowerby. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7263, Image no. SIA2008-3044.

Robert Sterling Clark China Expedition, 1908. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7263, Image No. SIA2008-2887.

Charles Doolittle Walcott (1850-1927) family campsite in the Canadian Rockies, 1910. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7004, Image no. SIA2008-1903.

Related Collections

  • Edward William Nelson and Edward Alphonso Goldman Collection, circa 1873-1946 and undated, Record Unit 7364, Smithsonian Institution Archives

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