Finding Aids to Official Records of the Smithsonian Institution Archives
Record Unit 396
National Museum of American History. Division of Military History
Records, circa 1968-1981
Beginning in the 1880s, military collections were curated by the Section of Historical Relics, United States National Museum, and its various successors through to the Division of History. In 1935, the Division established the Military and Naval Collection, and, in 1947, it formed a Section of Military History. The Section was given Division status in 1948 and was placed under the direction of Mendel L. Peterson. Additional details on the history of the Division are located in Record Unit 383, and in the introduction to the Department of Social and Cultural History, Guide to the Smithsonian Archives, 1996.
The Division of Military History was responsible for tracing the historical development of the United States Army from its inception as a colonial militia to its current role in the missile age. Research focused on United States Army firearms, artillery, ammunition, edged weapons, uniforms, medals, and flags. In addition to collecting military and foreign artifacts the Division published military histories and conducted studies of arms collections in other museums.
Staff members of the Division included Craddock R. Goins, Jr., Curator, 1959- , and Donald E. Kloster, Associate Curator, 1973- .
These records consist of public inquiries from museums, universities, historical societies, and private collectors regarding gun models, saber types, military heraldry, uniform insignia, history of the United States Army, the preservation of artifacts, and paintings illustrating scenes from American military history. Also included are copies of responses to public inquiries by the two curators; photographs, scripts, and correspondence concerning the exhibitions By Sea and By Land: Independence with the Help of France, Steuben: Secret Aid for the Americans, and Belgian Gunmaking and American History; and memoranda from administrative offices, some of which pertain to planning for the Bicentennial of the American Revolution.
This collection is indexed under the following access terms. These are links to collections with related topics, persons or places.
- Peterson, Mendel
- Goins, Craddock R., Jr.
- Kloster, Donald E.
- United States. Army
- United States National Museum. Section of Historical Relics
- United States National Museum. Division of History
- National Museum of American History (U.S.). Department of Social and Cultural History
- By Sea and By Land: Independence with the Help of France (Exhibition) (1981: Washington, D.C.)
- Steuben: Secret Aid for the Americans (Exhibition) (1981-1982: Washington, D.C.)
- Belgian Gunmaking and American History (Exhibition) (1977: Washington, D.C.)
Physical Characteristics of Materials in the Collection
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 396, National Museum of American History. Division of Military History, Records