Finding Aids to Official Records of the Smithsonian Institution Archives
Record Unit 167
United States National Museum. Administrative Assistant
Correspondence and Memoranda, 1885-1914
The chief clerk's appointment was an administrative one. Under his charge was the general supervision of the expenditure of United States National Museum appropriations; preparing proposals for supplies, issuing orders for the purchasing of supplies; settlement of accounts; awarding contracts; supervision over nonscientific or specimen related correspondence; general supervision of employees, their assignments to duty, granting leaves of absence; and conducting boards of inquiry and investigation of complaints. The chief clerk also acted as special agent and at times was appointed representative of the Museum and the Smithsonian at international expositions.
William V. Cox, designated chief clerk of the Museum in 1885, was the first and last chief clerk of the Museum. When Cox left the Museum in 1902 the title of the position was changed to administrative assistant. Duties of the administrative assistant were somewhat modified but the differences between these duties and those of the chief clerk were never enumerated in the Museum reports.
Records consist of outgoing letterpress book correspondence concerning general fiscal matters, estimates of appropriations, appropriation and expenditure statements; certified vouchers for the disbursement clerk; and personnel matters including leaves of absence, appointments, promotions, terminations, and salaries; also included are fiscal records pertaining to USNM exhibits at international expositions. Originally these records had been kept in three separate series, (1) general museum business; (2) personnel; and (3) copied letters addressed to the Secretary transmitting vouchers for payment. These series were combined at an unknown date and volumes pertaining to exposition financial matters were added. Most of the correspondence was signed by Cox, and William De C. Ravenel. Other correspondents include Secretaries Samuel P. Langley, and Charles D. Walcott; executive curator, Frederick William True; and acting chief clerks, J. E. Rockwell, and J. L. Willige. Volumes are individually indexed. A Volume list follows.
This collection is indexed under the following access terms. These are links to collections with related topics, persons or places.
- Ravenel, W. de C. (William de Chastignier), 1859-1933
- Cox, William Van Zandt, 1852-1923
- Smithsonian Institution -- Administration
- United States National Museum
- Smithsonian Institution. Chief Clerk
Physical Characteristics of Materials in the Collection
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 167, United States National Museum. Administrative Assistant, Correspondence and Memoranda