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Finding Aids to Oral Histories in the Smithsonian Institution Archives

Record Unit 9504

Wetmore, Alexander, 1886-1978, interviewee

Alexander Wetmore Oral History Interviews, 1974

Repository: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Washington, D.C. Contact us at osiaref@si.edu.
Creator: Wetmore, Alexander, 1886-1978, interviewee
Title: Alexander Wetmore Oral History Interviews
Dates: 1974
Quantity: 2 audiotapes (Reference copies). 4 digital .mp3 files (Reference copies).
Collection: Record Unit 9504
Language of Materials: English
Summary:

These interviews of Alexander Wetmore by Miriam S. Freilicher cover his field work, expeditions for the Bureau of Biological Survey, duties at the NZP and USNM, administration of the Smithsonian, acquisition of the Canal Zone Biological Area, and reminiscences of colleagues, notably John L. Keddy, Louise M. Pearson, and James Zetek.

Historical Note

Alexander Wetmore (1866-1978), B.A., University of Kansas, 1912 and Ph.D., George Washington University, 1920, pursued a career of ornithological field work beginning with the U.S.D.A. Bureau of Biological Survey from 1910-1924. After working informally with Smithsonian collections for many years, he was appointed Superintendent of the National Zoological Park in 1924 and as Assistant Secretary in charge of the U.S. National Museum in 1925. In 1945 he became Secretary of the Institution and during his tenure oversaw the acquisition of the Canal Zone Biological Area. After his retirement in 1952, he continued as a Research Associate of the Institution. Dr. Wetmore was well-known for his research and publications of North and South American birds.

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Introduction

The Smithsonian Institution Archives began its Oral History Program in 1973. The purpose of the program is to supplement the written documentation of the Archives' record and manuscript collections with an Oral History Collection, focusing on the history of the Institution, research by its scholars, and contributions of its staff. Program staff conduct interviews with current and retired Smithsonian staff and others who have made significant contributions to the Institution. There are also interviews conducted by researchers or students on topics related to the history of the Smithsonian or the holdings of the Smithsonian Institution Archives.

Wetmore was interviewed for the Oral History Project because he has made significant scholarly and administrative contributions to the Smithsonian during 50 years of service.

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Descriptive Entry

Wetmore was interviewed by Miriam Freilicher on April 18 and May 8, 1974. The interviews consist of reminiscences of his field work, expeditions for the Biological Survey, administration, changes, growth and finances of the U.S. National Museum, reminiscences of colleagues, notably John L. Keddy, Louise M. Pearson, and James Zetek, and the acquisition of the Canal Zone Biological Area.

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Preferred Citation

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 9504, Alexander Wetmore Oral History Interviews

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Container List

Interviews

Interview 1: April 18, 1974

Interviews

Includes Wetmore's reminiscences of early field work, career with Biological Survey, and early years at the Smithsonian in administration, c. 1909-1944.

Interviews

Transcript, pp. 1-33, of audio recording, 1 hour.

Interviews

Recording of Interview: Total Recording Time: 1 hour

Interviews
Original Masters: 1 7" low torque reel-to-reel analog tape
Preservation Masters: 4 7" low torque reel-to-reel analog audiotapes; 2 digital .wav files
Reference Copies: 1 cassette audiotape; 2 digital .mp3 files.

Interview 2: May 8, 1974

Interviews

Includes Wetmore's reminiscences of the U.S. National Museum, the effects of the Great Depression, his term as Secretary, acquisition of the Canal Zone Biological Area and field work, c. 1920-1974.

Interviews

Transcript, pp. 34-54, of audio recording, 1 hour.

Interviews
Original Masters: 1 7" low torque reel-to-reel analog tape
Preservation Masters: 3 7" low torque reel-to-reel analog audiotapes; 2 digital .wav files
Reference Copies: 1 cassette audiotape; 2 digital .mp3 files.