Finding Aids to Official Records of the Smithsonian Institution Archives
Record Unit 217
Smithsonian Institution. Libraries
The Act organizing the Smithsonian Institution in 1846 provided for the ". . . gradual formation of a library, composed of valuable works pertaining to all departments of human knowledge." Charles C. Jewett became the first administrator of the Smithsonian Library in 1847. After Jewett's resignation in 1854, the position of Librarian remained vacant until the appointment of Frederick William True in 1881. During the interim, library affairs were administered by Secretary Joseph Henry and Assistant Secretary Spencer F. Baird. Administrative officers of the Smithsonian Library included True, 1881-1887; John Murdoch, 1887-1892; J. Elfreth Watkins, July-October, 1892; Cyrus Adler, 1892-1909, including the years 1905-1909 when he held the title of Assistant Secretary in charge of Library and Exchanges; Frederick William True, 1911-1914, with the title Assistant Secretary in charge of Library and Exchanges; Paul Brockett, 1914-1924, with the title Assistant Librarian; William L. Corbin, 1925-1942; and Leila F. Clark, 1943- .
These records contain material concerning both the Smithsonian and United States National Museum (USNM) libraries and consist mostly of incoming and outgoing correspondence. Most of the correspondence is routine and deals with requests for publications, acknowledgments of publications received, the exchange of publications, employment inquiries, staff matters, and administrative policy.
Correspondents include Smithsonian and Museum administrative officers and staff, libraries, scientific institutions and societies, and the general public. Of special interest is correspondence regarding the evacuation of rare books, manuscripts, and archival material from the library during World War II. Other material includes ledgers, logbooks, and other records relating to books borrowed and lent, publications deposited in the Library of Congress, and the exchange of publications with other institutions; and records relating to the construction of book stacks in the main hall of the Smithsonian Institution Building, 1914-1915.
This collection is indexed under the following access terms. These are links to collections with related topics, persons or places.
- Jewett, Charles C. (Charles Coffin), 1816-1868
- True, Frederick William, 1858-1914
- Henry, Joseph, 1797-1878
- Baird, Spencer Fullerton, 1823-1887
- Murdoch, John, 1852-1925
- Watkins, J. Elfreth (John Elfreth), 1852-1903
- Adler, Cyrus, 1863-1940
- Brockett, Paul, 1872-1946
- Corbin, William L.
- Clark, Leila F.
- Library of Congress
- Smithsonian Institution Building (Washington, D.C.)
- United States National Museum
- Museum libraries
- Library directors
- Library administration
- World War, 1939-1945
- Libraries -- Public relations
- Interlibrary loans
- Collection management (Libraries)
- World War, 1939-1945
Physical Characteristics of Materials in the Collection
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 217, Smithsonian Institution, Libraries, Records