Finding Aids to Official Records of the Smithsonian Institution Archives
Record Unit 261
National Museum of History and Technology. Division of Domestic Life
Records, circa 1955-1977 and undated
The earliest domestic life artifacts received by the Institution consisted of relics of George Washington and items of ethnologic importance. Some objects were assigned to the Department of Ethnology, United States National Museum (USNM). Others were curated by the Section of Historical Relics and its various successors through to the Division of History, under the direction of A. Howard Clark until 1918 and Theodore T. Belote, 1919-1948.
From 1943 to 1957, the Civil Section of the Division of History and its successors cared for the furnishings collections, as part of the political history and costumes collections. Charles Dorman assisted Margaret Brown Klapthor and Anne Wood Murray with this responsibility. In 1957 the domestic life collections were assigned to the new Division of Cultural History, along with staff and collections from the former Division of Ethnology. C. Malcolm Watkins became Curator of Cultural History and Rodris C. Roth became Assistant and, subsequently, Associate Curator. In 1969, Cultural History was given departmental status. The Department featured a new Division of Costume and Furnishings, which now curated the furnishings collections from the former Division of Cultural History. It also included a new Division of Preindustrial Cultural History, with collections from the defunct Growth of the United States (GOUS) unit. Watkins served as Curator for the latter Division and Anne C. Golovin, from GOUS, was Associate Curator.
In 1977, the Division of Domestic Life was established, where domestic life artifacts from the Divisions of Costume and Furnishings and Preindustrial Cultural History were combined. Roth was made Curator of the new Division, and Golovin became Associate Curator.
Research of the Division of Domestic Life mainly focuses on American household artifacts such as furniture, lighting devices, and modern appliances; or metalware and small wooden objects commonly used in the home, which date from the early seventeenth century. The Division staff and their predecessors have acquired a variety of items formerly owned by leading American statesmen, as well as handmade objects from average households illustrating the development of the American home.
Curators and staff of domestic life collections have included C. Malcolm Watkins, Curator of Cultural History, 1957-1968, Chairman of the Department of Cultural History and Curator of Preindustrial Cultural History, 1969-1972, Senior Curator, 1973- ; Rodris C. Roth, Assistant Curator of Ethnology, 1957, Assistant Curator, 1958-1959, Associate Curator, 1960-1968, of Cultural History, Associate Curator, 1969-1972, Curator, 1972-1977, of Costume and Furnishings, Curator of Domestic Life, 1977- ; John N. Pearce, Assistant Curator of Cultural History, 1960-1963, Associate Curator, 1964; G. Carroll Lindsay, Assistant Curator of Ethnology, 1956-1957, Associate Curator of Cultural History, 1958; Anne C. Golovin, Assistant Curator of Growth of the United States, 1963-1968, Associate Curator of Preindustrial Cultural History, 1969-1977, Associate Curator of Domestic Life, 1977- ; Richard E. Ahlborn, Associate Curator of Cultural History, 1966-1968; Susan H. Myers, museum technician, 1971-1974, museum specialist, 1975-1977, of Preindustrial Cultural History; Richard H. Howland, Head Curator, 1961-1964, Chairman, 1964-1967 , of the Department of Civil History; Peter C. Welsh, Associate Curator, 1961-1962, Curator, 1963-1968, of Growth of the United States; and Wilcomb E. Washburn, Acting Curator of Political History, 1958, Curator, 1959-1965.
These records, primarily from the Division of Preindustrial Cultural History and, to an extent, its predecessors, as well as the Department of Cultural History and the Division of Domestic Life, include administrative files consisting of annual reports for some of the above administrative units; a fourth floor plan of NMHT; memoranda concerning policies and activities of the Division of Preindustrial Cultural History and predecessors and the Museum; committee files; inventories of the furnishings of several historic houses in Washington, D. C.; identification reports of objects submitted for historical documentation; and scripts for public relation projects of the Division of Preindustrial Cultural History and the Museum. Also included are reading files and copies of outgoing correspondence to public inquiries concerning objects in the national collections or the examination of objects for historical authentication.
This collection is indexed under the following access terms. These are links to collections with related topics, persons or places.
- Watkins, C. Malcolm
- Roth, Rodris
- Golovin, Anne Castrodale
- Ahlborn, Richard E.
- Myers, Susan H.
- Howland, Richard Hubbard
- Clark, A. Howard
- Belote, Theodore T.
- Dorman, Charles G.
- Klapthor, Margaret Brown
- Murray, Anne Wood
- Pearce, John N.
- Lindsay, G. Carroll
- Welsh, Peter C.
- Washburn, Wilcomb E.
- National Museum of History and Technology (U.S.). Division of Cultural History
- National Museum of History and Technology (U.S.). Division of Preindustrial Cultural History
- National Museum of History and Technology (U.S.) Department of Cultural History
- United States National Museum. Division of Ethnology
- United States National Museum. Section of Historical Relics
- United States National Museum. Division of History
- National Museum of History and Technology (U.S.). Division of Costume and Furnishings
- National Museum of History and Technology (U.S.). Department of Civil History
- National Museum of History and Technology (U.S.). Division of Political History
- Growth of the United States (Exhibition)
- Costume -- History
- Household appliances
- House furnishings
- Households -- United States
- Historical museums
- Museum curators
- Women museum curators
- Museums -- Public relations
Physical Characteristics of Materials in the Collection
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 261, National Museum of History and Technology. Division of Domestic Life, Records