Exterior view of the Smithsonian Institution Building, or Castle.

Wishing you a Trivial New Year!

Celebrate National Trivia Day by testing your knowledge of the Smithsonian!

Happy National Trivia Day! January 4th is the perfect day to break out all those endless bits of knowledge stored in your noggin and share them with others. As for the history of National Trivia Day, it's thought that the creation of the game Trivial Pursuit in 1979 sparked the beginning of our fascination with trivia, and everythinge else is history, as they say. To feed our healthy obsession, here is a short quiz containing some facts about the Smithsonian Institution.

1. What is the longest anyone has worked at the Smithsonian?

  1. 55 years
  2. 63 years
  3. 78 years
  4. 81 years

 2. Who was the first woman employed by the Smithsonian?

  1. Jane Wadden Turner
  2. Mary Jane Rathbun
  3. Doris M. Cochran
  4. Mary Agnes Chase

3. What was the first U.S. organization able to track the Russian Satallite Sputnik after it was launched on October 4, 1957?

  1. The National Air and Space Museum
  2. Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
  3. National Air and Space Administration
  4. The Central Intelligence Agency

4. When was the first Smithsonian website launched?

  1. 1992
  2. 1995
  3. 1997
  4. 1999

5. What was the most frequently requested collection at the Smithsonian Institution Archives in 2017?

  1. Record Unit 95, Smithsonian Institution, Photograph Collection (1850- )
  2. Record Unit 192, United States National Museum, Permanent Admnistrative Files (1877-1975)
  3. Record Unit 305, United States National Museum, Office of the Registrar, Accession Records (1834-1958)
  4. Accession 11-009, Smithsonian Institution, Smithsonian Photographic Services, Photograph Collection (1971-2006)  


1. c. 78 years. Secretary Charles Greeley Abbott, astrophysicist and fifth secretary of the Smithsonian, served from 1895 - 1973. Abbott arrived at the Smithsonian in 1895 to begin working in the laboratory of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. In 1907, Abbott became the Director of the Astrophysical Observatory, where he served until becoming Assistant Secretary of the Smithsonian in 1918. After the death of Secretary Charles Doolittle Walcott, Abbott was elected Secretary of the Smithsonian in 1928. On July 1, 1944, Abbott became the first secretary to retire from the Institution, at which time he was given Secretary Emeritus status. Abbott died on December 17, 1973, at the age of 101, after dedicating his life to the pursuit of science and to the Smithsonian. 

2. a. Jane Turner. Jane Wadden Turner (1818-1896) became the first female employee at the Smithsonian when she was appointed a library clerk in 1857 after being trained by her brother. Turner retired in 1857 after a reorganization of the Smithsonian Library by the new Secretary, Samuel P. Langley. A new woman was not appointed Chief of the Smithsonian Library until 1942, during World War II, when Leila Gay Forbes Clark was placed in charge. Read more about Jane here.

3. b. Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO). SAO was the first US organization able to track the Russian satellite after its launch in 1957.

4. b. 1995. On May 8, 1995, the Smithsonian launched its home page – www.si.edu – on the world wide web. The site was officially open with a demonstation in the office of House Speaker Newt Gingrich. The first website contained more than 1,500 electronic pages and included overviews in Spanish, German, and French. Within the first 24 hours, the page received about 100,000 hits!

5. d. 11-009. Accession 11-009 was requested 99 times in 2017, making it the most used collection during the year. This photographic collection became part of the Smithsonian Institution Archives in 2008, after photographic services were decentralized into individual Smithsonian units. This historic collection contains images of collection documentation, events, and exhibits on a variety of formats, such as b/w and color film negatives, 35mm and 120mm roll film, and slides. 

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