Agency history, 1880-1965

Usage Conditions Apply
The Smithsonian Institution Archives welcomes personal and educational use of its collections unless otherwise noted. For commercial uses, please contact


  • Benedict, James E (James Everard) 1854-1940
  • Chace, Fenner Albert
  • Illg, Paul L
  • Bayer, Frederick M
  • Bowman, Thomas E
  • Manning, Raymond B (Raymond Brendan) 1934-2000
  • Jones, Meredith L
  • Hope, W. Duane 1935-
  • Barnard, J. Laurens (Jerry Laurens) 1928-1991
  • Cressey, Roger F. 1930-
  • Kornicker, Louis S. 1919-
  • Rathbun, Richard 1852-1918
  • Rathbun, Mary Jane 1860-1943
  • Schmitt, Waldo L (Waldo Lasalle) 1887-1977
  • Squires, Donald Fleming
  • Pettibone, Marian H
  • Pawson, David L (David Leo) 1938-
  • Cutress, Charles E. Jr
  • Shoemaker, Clarence R
  • Wilson, Mildred S
  • Stimpson, William 1832-1872
  • Verrill, A. E (Addison Emery) 1839-1926
  • Chicago Academy of Sciences
  • United States Fish Commission
  • Yale University
  • United States National Museum Department of Marine Invertebrates
  • United States National Museum Division of Marine Invertebrates
  • United States National Museum Department of Biology
  • United States National Museum Division of Mollusks
  • United States National Museum Division of Echinoderms
  • United States National Museum Department of Zoology
  • United States North Pacific Exploring Expedition (1853-1856)
  • United States Exploring Expedition (1838-1842)


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
  • Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution
  • Smithsonian Year
  • National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, "Invertebrate Zoology at the Smithsonian."[].
  • The origins of the collection of marine invertebrates under the care of the Smithsonian Institution can be traced to the collections made by William Stimpson while serving as zoologist on the North Pacific Exploring Expedition, 1853-1856, and the specimens collected by the United States Exploring Expedition which were transferred to the Smithsonian in 1858. Stimpson seems to have been, nominally at least, in charge of the Smithsonian marine invertebrate collections until 1865. By that date the Smithsonian collection of crustacea numbered more than 10,000 jars--the largest in the world at that time. In 1867, Stimpson was authorized to take most of the collection of American invertebrates to the Chicago Academy of Sciences for study, where they were destroyed when the Academy was burned in the Chicago fire of 1871.
  • Beginning in the 1870s, large collections of marine invertebrates came to the Smithsonianas a result of the various expeditions conducted by the United States Fish Commission. Many of these specimens were retained at Yale University by Addison Emery Verrill for study and identification and did not reach the United States National Museum until 1907.
  • The Department of Marine Invertebrates was created as a part of the initial organization of the United States National Museum (USNM) in 1880. In 1897, as a result of a reorganization of the USNM, it became the Division of Marine Invertebrates of the newly established Department of Biology. In 1914, the Division of Marine Invertebrates was merged with the Division of Mollusks into a single division under the title of Marine Invertebrates. In 1920, the collection of Echinoderms was removed from Marine Invertebrates to form a new Division of Echinoderms, and in 1921 Mollusks once again became an independent division.
  • In 1947, the Division was placed under the control of the Department of Zoology. In 1950, the Division of Echinoderms was abolished, and the collections reverted to the care of the Division of Marine Invertebrates. That Division was in turn abolished on July 1, 1965; and its collections were separated into the newly established Divisions of Crustacea, Echinoderms, and Worms of the Department of Invertebrate Zoology.
  • Curators and research staff of the Division of Marine Invertebrates have included Richard Rathbun, Curator, 1880-1914; Mary Jane Rathbun, Copyist, Aid, Assistant Curator, and Associate in Zoology, 1886-1943; James E. Benedict, Assistant Curator, 1890-1909; Waldo L. Schmitt, Aid, Assistant Curator, and Curator, 1910, 1915-1947; Clarence R. Shoemaker, Aid, Assistant Curator, Associate Curator, and Associate in Zoology, 1911-1958; Mildred S. Wilson, Assistant Curator, 1944-1946; Fenner Albert Chace, Curator and Senior Zoologist, 1946-1965; Paul L. Illg, Associate Curator, 1947-1952; Frederick M. Bayer, Assistant and Associate Curator, 1947-1961; and Thomas E. Bowman, Associate Curator, 1954-1965.
  • Staff have also included Charles E. Cutress, Jr., Associate Curator, 1961-1965; Donald Fleming Squires, Associate Curator and Curator, 1962-1964; Raymond B. Manning, Associate Curator, 1963-1965; Marian H. Pettibone, Associate Curator, 1963-1965; David L. Pawson, Associate Curator, 1963-1965; Meredith L. Jones, Associate Curator, 1964-1965; W. Duane Hope, Associate Curator, 1964-1965; J. Laurens Barnard, Associate Curator, 1964-1965; Roger F. Cressey, Associate Curator, 1965; and Louis S. Kornicker, Associate Curator, 1965.
  • For a histroy 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
  • 1880-1965


  • Marine invertebrates
  • Invertebrate zoology


Mixed archival materials

Local number

SIA AH00027

Full Record

View Full Record