Agency history, 1897-1994

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  • Clark, Alonzo Howard 1850-1918
  • Foreman, Edward R. 1808-1885
  • Woodhouse, S. W (Samuel Washington) 1821-1904
  • Mason, Otis Tufton 1838-1908
  • Seward, Olive Risley 1844-1906
  • Hough, Walter 1859-1935
  • Scidmore, Eliza Ruhamah 1856-1928
  • Gardner, Paul Vickers 1908-1994
  • Miller, J. Jefferson
  • Noël Hume, Ivor
  • Beckwith, Paul E
  • James, Julien Mrs
  • Krieger, Herbert W (Herbert William) 1889-
  • Myers, Susan H
  • United States National Museum Division of Ethnology Section of Ceramics
  • United States National Museum Division of History
  • Museum of History and Technology (U.S.) Division of Ceramics and Glass


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, 1996
  • Among the Smithsonian's earliest ceramic and glass artifacts were those acquired at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition and from archeological sites throughout North America. Edward R. Foreman, Curator for the ethnological collections at the United States National Museum (USNM), cataloged ceramic artifacts from 1881 to 1883, as did his successor, Otis Tufton Mason, from 1884 to 1902. The curator for the Section of Historical Collections, Alonzo Howard Clark, cataloged glass artifacts during the same years.
  • In 1897, the Section of Ceramics was established in the Division of Ethnology, Department of Anthropology. The glass collections were added to the Section but remained the curatorial responsibility of Clark, Curator of the newly organized Division of History. Paul Edmond Beckwith, Assistant Curator for the Division of History, was responsible for the Section from 1903 to 1907. From 1907 to 1920, a National Gallery of Art (NGA) was established and administered by USNM, and selections of contemporary porcelain and glass were placed with NGA during this period.
  • From 1908 to 1935, the Section of Ceramics became the curatorial responsibility of Walter Hough, Curator of Ethnology. Mrs. Julien James, a patron of the Division of History at USNM, assisted Hough with maintaining the collections, as did private collectors and donors such as Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore and Olive Risley Seward. Samuel W. Woodhouse served as Collaborator of the Section from 1933 to 1943. In 1935, Herbert W. Krieger replaced Hough as Curator of Ethnology and was responsible for the Section.
  • In 1957, on the creation of the Museum of History and Technology (MHT) the Section was removed from the Division of Ethnology to become the Division of Ceramics and Glass, Department of Arts and Manufactures. In 1965 a Department of Industries was created to replace the Department of Arts and Manufactures during the museum's reorganization as the National Museum of History and Technology. In 1978, the Division transferred to the Department of Cultural History and continued under its successor departments, most recently a Department of Social history. It appears not to have been a reporting unit after 1994.
  • Curators and staff of the Division included Paul Vickers Gardner, Acting Curator, 1958-1960, Associate Curator, 1961, Curator, 1962-1977, and Curator Emeritus, 1978-1994; J. Jefferson Miller, Assistant Curator, 1962, Associate Curator, 1963-1969, Curator, 1970-1977, Consultant, 1978, and Curator Emeritus, 1979-1994; Susan H. Myers, Assistant Curator, 1980-1983, and Curator, 1984-1994; and Ivor Noël Hume, Research Associate, 1980-1984.
  • 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


  • 1897
  • 1897-1994


  • Glass
  • Ceramics


Mixed archival materials

Local number

SIA AH00124

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