When asked what the Smithsonian Institution Archives collects, we say we hold records about the history of the Smithsonian and its people, programs, research, and activities. While accurate, this doesn't really give anyone a clue about what is actually in those records.
The Smithsonian Institution Archives Reference Team handles an average of around 6,000 queries per year, and if you us what people have been researching at the Archives recently, you'll get some pretty interesting responses. Although not comprehensive, here's a snapshot of the diverse range of information encompassed by the history of the world's largest museum complex!
Over the past three months, researcher queries have included:
- Harry Ladd and the Great Barrier Reef
- History of computers at the Smithsonian
- The Handbook of North American Indians
- National Museum of Natural History construction
- Enola Gay exhibition
- The racehorse Lexington
- Galapagos Islands colonists
- Influence of Smithsonian on bird egg collecting
- The Columbian Institute
- Impact of nuclear isotopes on the coral structures
- Smithsonian Meteorological Project
- Society for Marine Mammology
- David Griffiths cactus photos
- American Encounters exhibition
- Elk migration
Permissions to upcoming publications using our photos or documents include:
- Dan Eatherly for Bushmaster: Raymond Ditmars and the Hunt for the World's Largest Viper.
- Smithsonian Journeys Quarterly - Publication of Smithsonian Journeys which organizes tours around the world used our image of archaeologist, Ephraim George Squier.
- E. Samantha Cheng used our image of Ruby Hirose in a public service announcement for Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month.
- Susan Bullers, images of women scientists for promotional material for The Buddy Study.
- Australia’s Wildbear Entertainment used our image of French inventor, engineer and chemist Georges Claude in a documentary film on the history of neon.
- The Linnean Society of London used our image of Martha, the last passenger pigeon, in their newsletter, Pulse.
Most unusual lreference request
We were contacted by Wyoming State Prison for a photograph of Mary Preston Slosson that will be featured in a permanent exhibit at the Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site.
- Reference services at the Smithsonian Institution Archives