Agency history, 1880-1967

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  • Brown, Stephen C
  • Weiss, Helena M. 1909-2004
  • Bryant, Herbert S


Agency History


  • This is an agency history. It does not describe actual records. The Smithsonian Institution Archives uses these histories as brief accounts of the origin, development, and functions of an office or administrative unit to set that unit in its historical context. To find information on record holdings, please double-click the highlighted field "Creator/Author", which will open on a brief view of relevant records.
  • Guide to the Smithsonian Archives
  • Stephen C. Brown was appointed Registrar of the United States National Museum (USNM) in 1880 and served until his death in 1919. The Registrar functioned as the transportation, storage, and record clerk for the Museum and was responsible for shipping, accessions, storage, and distribution of specimens. With the death of Brown in 1919, the position was abolished. Functions relating to accessions, examination and reports of specimens, and the distribution of specimens were reassigned to the Chief, Division of Correspondence and Documents. The duties of Shipping Clerk, which had been performed by Brown, were combined with those of the Property Clerk.
  • From 1919 until 1956, the Registrar's functions remained with the Division of Correspondence and Documents. Herbert S. Bryant and Helena Weiss served as Chiefs of the Division, 1918-1948 and 1948-1956, respectively. In 1956, the Division was renamed the Office of the Registrar, with Helena Weiss serving as Registrar. After the USNM ceased to exist as an administrative entity in 1967, Weiss served as Registrar under the direction of the Office of Special Museum Programs until her retirement in 1971. Responsibilities of the Registrar included shipping, mail, transportation, distribution of publications, customs work, travel, correspondence, and accessions.
  • For a history of the larger creating unit , refer to "Forms part of" above.

Repository Loc.

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Capital Gallery, Suite 3000, MRC 507; 600 Maryland Avenue, SW; Washington, DC 20024-2520


  • 1880
  • 1880-1967


  • Museums
  • Museums--Collection management


Mixed archival materials

Local number

SIA AH00067

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