The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Smithsonian Scientists at Work
Scientific research has been integral to the Smithsonian, from its founding to today. The Smithsonian's founder, Englishman James Smithson, saw in the U.S. (according to his biographer, Heather Ewing) "a place of the future" that could support "science and progress for humanity." He believed that scientists were "citizens of the world" and that the work they did benefited everyone. He was a chemist and studied almost everything he encountered. Furthermore, the leaders of the Smithsonian, or secretaries, often had science backgrounds; physics, ornithology, paleontology, and archaelogy to name a few.
Today, Smithsonian scientists work around the world, in laboratories, observatories, and the field, studying topics that range from astrophysics to conservation biology to coastal ecosystems to tropical ecologies. As people gather in Washington D.C. for both the March for Science and the Smithsonian Earth Optimism Summit, we look back at some of our scientists who have made science history at the Smithsonian and in the world.
- Science Service Records, 1920s-1970s, SIA Accession 90-105