Agency history, 1846-

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

Narrow Your Results


Filter Your Results

Smithsonian Secretaries Information

Close Browse records and papers of the Smithsonian Secretaries, from 1846 until today. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by individuals who have held that office.

Expeditions Information

Close Browse records and papers documenting scientific and collecting expeditions either affiliated with the Smithsonian, or with which Smithsonian researchers participated. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by geographic regions predominantly represented in expedition records.

Professional Societies Information

Close Browse records of professional societies closely associated with the Smithsonian, that focus on areas of scientific research and museum studies. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by major topics and disciplines.


  • Dallas, George Mifflin 1792-1864
  • Fillmore, Millard 1800-1874
  • Taney, Roger Brooke 1777-1864
  • Chase, Salmon P (Salmon Portland) 1808-1873
  • Waite, Morrison R (Morrison Remick) 1816-1888
  • White, Edward Douglass 1845-1921
  • Taft, William H (William Howard) 1857-1930
  • Hughes, Charles Evans 1862-1948
  • Stone, Harlan Fiske 1872-1946
  • Vinson, Fred M. 1890-1953
  • Warren, Earl 1891-1974
  • Burger, Warren E. 1907-1995
  • Rehnquist, William H. 1924-
  • Fuller, Melville Weston 1833-1910
  • Roberts, John G. Jr. 1955-
  • Smithsonian Institution Administration


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.
  • Board of Regents, 1846- , Minutes of Meetings (RU 1). Folder List
  • Guide to the Smithsonian Archives
  • Goldman, Jerry and Northwestern University. "The OYEZ Project." [ chrono], 27 August 1999.
  • Board of Regents, Bylaws (Section 4.01).
  • Smithsonian Institution, Board of Regents,, accessed July 26, 2021.
  • The Board of Regents is the governing body of the Smithsonian Institution, created by the Act of August 10, 1846, which established the Institution and gave form to the trust received from its English benefactor, James Smithson. The Board's composition has varied over time. At the present time, the Chief Justice of the United States and the Vice President of the United States are ex officio members of the Board, meaning that they serve as a duty of their office. The Chief Justice also serves as the Chancellor of the Smithsonian. There are six congressional Regents: three Senators are appointed by the President pro tempore of the United States Senate and three Representatives are appointed by the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. Their terms on the Board coincide with their elected terms in Congress, and they may be reappointed to the Board if reelected.
  • Nine Regents are from the general public, two of whom must reside in the District of Columbia and seven of whom must be inhabitants of the 50 states (but no two from the same state). Each is nominated by the Board of Regents and appointed for a statutory term of six years by a Joint Resolution of the Congress, which is then signed into law by the President. In accordance with the Bylaws adopted by the Board of Regents in 1979, citizen members may not serve more than two successive terms.
  • The Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution is responsible for shaping the Institution's policies and directing its operations; but final authority resides with the Board of Regents, which is empowered to hold title to land, to accept gifts and trusts, to sue and be sued, and to exercise all the other powers usual to bodies of this kind.
  • Ad hoc committees are created to conduct certain orders of business, including Secretarial searches. The Executive Committee of the Board is a standing committee, and has existed since 1846. Likewise, the Audit and Review Committee, initially formed as an ad hoc committee in 1977, was re-established in 1979 as a standing committee to oversee the Institution's accounting systems and internal controls.
  • Chancellors of the Board of Regents have included: George Mifflin Dallas, 1846-1849; Millard Fillmore, 1849-1851; Roger B. Taney, 1851-1864; Salmon P. Chase, 1864-1873; Morrison R. Waite, 1874-1888; Melville Weston Fuller, 1888-1910; Edward Douglass White, 1910-1921; William H. Taft, 1921-1930; Charles Evans Hughes, 1930-1941; Harlan Fiske Stone, 1941-1946; Fred M. Vinson, 1946-1953; Earl Warren, 1953-1969; Warren E. Burger, 1969-1986; William H. Rehnquist, 1986-2005; and John G. Roberts, Jr., 2005- .

Repository Loc.

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


  • 1846
  • 1846-


  • Museums
  • Museum trustees
  • Museums--Administration


Mixed archival materials

Local number

SIA AH00001

Full Record

View Full Record