Agency history, 1885-1931

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.


  • Ravenel, W. de C (William de Chastignier) 1859-1933
  • Cox, William Van Zandt 1852-1923


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
  • Annual Report of the United States National Museum
  • The Administrative Assistant was in charge of the general supervision of the expenditure of United States National Museum (USNM) appropriations; preparing proposals for supplies; settlement of accounts; awarding contracts; supervision of non-scientific or specimen-related correspondence; general supervision of employees, assignments to duty, granting leaves of absence; and conducting boards of inquiry and investigations of complaints. The Administrative Assistant also acted as special agent and at times was appointed representative of the Museum and the Smithsonian at international expositions. Prior to 1902 the incumbent was known as Chief Clerk.
  • William V. Cox was designated as the Museum's first Chief Clerk in 1885. When he left the Museum in 1902 the title of the position was changed to Administrative Assistant and William deC. Ravenel was appointed to the post. By the time Ravenel retired in 1931, most of his duties had been assumed by the Associate Director, USNM, and the position of Administrative Assistant was removed from the Museum hierarchy.
  • 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


  • 1885
  • 1885-1931


  • Museums
  • Museums--Administration


Mixed archival materials

Local number

SIA AH00071

Full Record

View Full Record