Finding Aids to Official Records of the Smithsonian Institution Archives
Record Unit 293
National Museum of History and Technology. Division of Physical Sciences
In 1890 a Section of Physical Apparatus was established in the Department of Arts and Industries with William Crawford Winlock as Honorary Curator. In 1897 the Section became the Mechanical Phases collection in the Division of Technology, curated by J. Elfreth Watkins.
In 1938 the Section of Physical Sciences and Measurement was created from the Section of Mechanical Technology of the Division of Engineering. Frank A. Taylor, Curator of Engineering, assumed curatorial responsibility for Physical Sciences and Measurement, serving in this capacity until 1955. His successor, Robert P. Multhauf, was Curator of the Section from 1955 to 1957.
In 1957 the Section of Physical Sciences and Measurement became the Division of Physical Sciences, Department of Science and Technology, in the Museum of History and Technology (MHT). Multhauf served as Curator of the Division until the position was assigned to Faye Cannon (prior to 1976, Walter F. Cannon) in 1965.
Research and collections of the Division of Physical Sciences principally focused on the history of astronomy, meteorology, chemistry, classical physics, geology, astrophysics, and mathematics. Curators and staff of the Division included Robert P. Multhauf, Curator of the Section of Physical Sciences and Measurement, 1955-1957, Curator of the Division of Physical Sciences, 1957-1965; Faye Cannon, Associate Curator, 1962-1964, Curator, 1965- ; Lester Clark Lewis, Curator, 1962; Uta C. Merzbach, Associate Curator, 1964-1967; Deborah J. (Mills) Warner, Assistant Curator, 1964-1966, 1968-1969, Associate Curator, 1970- ; and Jon B. Eklund, Assistant Curator, 1968-1969, Associate Curator, 1970- .
These records consist of public inquiries about scientific instruments; layout plans, scripts, and photographs for exhibitions; proposals for the Hall of Physics, Mathematics, and Astronomy in MHT; general correspondence with domestic and foreign science museums, universities, manufacturers and collectors of scientific instruments, and professional societies; administrative files consisting of annual reports, staff memoranda, and planning statements; records documenting Cannon's role in the bicentennial celebration of James Smithson's birth; and information pertaining to internship research.
This collection is indexed under the following access terms. These are links to collections with related topics, persons or places.
- Cannon, Susan Faye, 1925-1981
- Winlock, William Crawford
- Watkins, J. Elfreth (John Elfreth), 1852-1903
- Taylor, Frank A. (Frank Augustus), 1903-2007
- Multhauf, Robert P.
- Lewis, Lester Clark
- Merzbach, Uta C., 1933-
- Warner, Deborah Jean
- Eklund, Jon B.
- National Museum of History and Technology (U.S.). Department of Science and Technology
- National Museum of History and Technology (U.S.). Hall of Physics, Mathematics, and Astronomy
- United States National Museum. Section of Physical Apparatus
- United States National Museum. Department of Arts and Industries
- United States National Museum. Department of Engineering and Industries
- United States National Museum. Section of Physical Sciences and Measurement
- United States National Museum. Division of Engineering
- Smithson Bicentennial
Physical Characteristics of Materials in the Collection
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 293, National Museum of History and Technology. Division of Physical Sciences, Records