Agency history, 1947-1984

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.


  • Goins, Craddock R. Jr
  • Kloster, Donald E
  • Howell, Edgar M
  • Peterson, Mendel


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
  • Beginning in the 1880s, military collections were curated by the Section of Historical Relics, United States National Museum. In 1904 a Division of History was created and had custody of military collections as well as other historical collections. In 1935, the Division established the Military and Naval Collection, and, in 1947, it formed a Section of Military History. The Section was given Divisional status in 1948 and was placed under the direction of Mendel Peterson. In 1957 when the Museum of History and Technology was created, Military History was incorporated, together with a Division of Naval History, into a Department of Armed Forces History. In 1969 a Department of National and Military History was formed, embracing the Division of Political History and the Division of Historic Archeology as well as the military and naval history. A 1978 reorganization saw the creation of a Department of National History, of which Military History remained a part.
  • In 1980 the National Museum of American History was created, and at this time Military History was assigned to the Department of the History of Science and Technology. In 1984 the Division was merged with the Division of Naval History to form a Division of Armed Forces History.
  • The Division of Military History was responsible for tracing the historical development of the United States Army from its inception as a colonial militia to its current role in the missile age. Research focused on United States Army firearms, artillery, ammunition, edged weapons, uniforms, medals, and flags. In addition to collecting military and foreign artifacts the Division published military histories and conducted studies of arms collections in other museums.
  • Staff members of the Division included Mendel Peterson, Head Curator, 1957-1964, and Chairman, 1964-1969; Craddock R. Goins, Jr., Curator, 1959-1998, Edgar M. Howell, 1969-1973, and Donald E. Kloster, Associate Curator, 1973-1984.
  • 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


  • 1968
  • 1968-1981
  • 1947-1984


  • Military
  • Military history


Mixed archival materials

Local number

SIA AH00104

Full Record

View Full Record