Alexander Wetmore Papers, circa 1848-1979 and undated

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(Frank) Alexander Wetmore (1886-1978), ornithologist, avian paleontologist, and science administrator, was the sixth Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, serving from 1945 to 1952. Materials cataloged were created during the near entirety of his life-span, including a series of photograph albums. He developed an early interest in birds and at the age of eight recorded his first observations -- the first field notes in the collection are from age 8 to 16 describing of birds in the vicinity of his birthplace, North Freedom, Wisconsin. Field books and attending materials continue through his years at the University of Kansas. |There are extensive materials from his time working for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Bureau of Biological Survey, including field notes, correspondence, expense reports, reference materials, reports, and photographs and maps. There are often multiple items from the same collecting trip. His fieldwork during the time included not only collecting but also investigations of issues with health and management of wildlife. Many of the reports in the collection were never published.|Later collection items document extended collecting efforts in South America during his time with the US National Museum. He traveled numerous times Panama, several times with other individuals whose materials are also in the collection. |Not all items relating to Wetmore's field work have been included in the registry, due to the extensive descriptions in Smithsonian Institution Archive finding aid, and/or a lack of materials in the items explicitly documenting specimens collected during those events. Glass plates and negatives were not cataloged because they often duplicate photographs already included in the registry.

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  • Aves
  • Mammalia
  • Reptilia
  • Chiroptera
  • Herpestidae
  • Anatidae
  • Animalia
  • Birds
  • Mammals
  • Reptiles
  • Bats
  • Mongoose
  • Waterfowl


  • South America
  • Haiti
  • Puerto Rico
  • United States
  • Europe
  • Kansas
  • California
  • Utah
  • Canada
  • Venezuela
  • Panama
  • Alaska
  • Mexico
  • Hawaiian Islands
  • Wisconsin


Collection record

Accession #

SIA RU007006


Approximately 41 photograph albums, 40 notebooks, 4 diaries, 50 folders of correspondence, and 50 folders of field notes

Physical Location

Smithsonian Institution Archives