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Finding Aids to Oral Histories in the Smithsonian Institution Archives

Record Unit 9588

Smith, Jean Chandler, interviewee

Jean Chandler Smith Oral History Interview, 1986

Repository: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Washington, D.C. Contact us at
Creator: Smith, Jean Chandler, interviewee
Title: Jean Chandler Smith Oral History Interview
Dates: 1986
Quantity: 1 audiotape (Reference copy).
Collection: Record Unit 9588
Language of Materials: English

This interview of Smith by University of Maryland student Linda Zindt covers her education and career at SIL, including staffing, technological advances, acquisition of the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology, and her role as an administrator.

Historical Note

Jean Chandler Smith (1918-1999), librarian and bibliographer, received the A.B. from Bryn Mawr College in 1939, the M.S. from Yale University in 1953, and the M.L.S. from The Catholic University of America in 1973. She began her career as a reference librarian for the District of Columbia Public Library from 1939 to 1943. During the latter part of World War II, she worked as a translator in Panama and as a librarian in Hawaii. In 1944, she joined the staff of Yale University as a Librarian and Research Associate. In 1959, she accepted a position as Acting Chief of Acquisitions at the National Institutes of Health Library and moved to the Department of the Interior in 1963. She joined the staff of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries (SIL) in 1965. She served as Acting Director in 1972 and from 1977 to 1979. After her retirement in 1981, she continued her research as an SIL Research Associate.

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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.

Smith was interviewed for the Smithsonian Institution Archives Oral History Collection because of her service as a librarian and administrator with Smithsonian Institution Libraries.

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Descriptive Entry

This interview of Smith was conducted by University of Maryland student Linda Zindt in 1986 and covers her education, career at SIL, and her role as an administrator. The collection consists of 1.0 hour of audiotape recording and 27 pages of transcript.

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Use Restriction

Restricted. Contact to request permission.

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This collection is indexed under the following access terms. These are links to collections with related topics, persons or places.



Physical Characteristics of Materials in the Collection

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Preferred Citation

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 9588, Jean Chandler Smith Oral History Interview

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Container List


Interview 1: December 3, 1986


Interview covers her education and career, focusing on her years at Smithsonian Institution Libraries, including staffing, technological advances, acquisition of the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology, and her role as an administrator.


Transcript, pp. 1-27, of audiotape recording, 1.0 hour.


Audio Recordings of Interview: Total Recording Time: 1.0 hour

Original Masters: 1 audiotape cassette
Preservation Masters: 1 5" reel-to-reel audiotape
Reference Copies: 1 cassette audiotape