Agency history, 1881-1994

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  • Sheldon, Robert E
  • Goode, G. Brown (George Brown) 1851-1896
  • Foote, J. Howard
  • Hough, Walter 1859-1935
  • Fesperman, John T
  • Hoover, Cynthia A (Cynthia Adams)
  • Weaver, James Merle
  • Shortridge, John D
  • Sturm, Gary
  • Boyer, Horace Clarence 1935-
  • Odell, Scott 1935-
  • Germann, Sheridan
  • Hasse, John Edward 1948-
  • Hollis, Helen R
  • McCoy, George D
  • Hawley, Edwin H
  • Worch, Hugo 1855-
  • Krieger, Herbert W (Herbert William) 1889-1970
  • United States National Museum Section of Musical Instruments
  • United States National Museum Department of Arts and Industries
  • United States National Museum Department of Anthropology
  • United States National Museum Division of Ethnology
  • Museum of History and Technology (U.S.) Division of Cultural History
  • Museum of History and Technology (U.S.) Section of Musical Instruments
  • Museum of History and Technology (U.S.) Department of Civil History
  • National Museum of American History (U.S.) Division of Musical History
  • National Museum of American History (U.S.) Division of Cultural History
  • Centennial Exhibition (1876 : Philadelphia, Pa.)
  • 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, 1996
  • Smithsonian Directory, 1971-1997
  • A collection of musical instruments was established in 1881, consisting of American Indian instruments acquired during the Wilkes Expedition, gifts from diplomats, and instruments of foreign manufacture acquired at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. In 1882, the collection was enlarged with the addition of nineteenth-century wind instruments, music boxes, and banjos donated by New York music dealer J. Howard Foote. G. Brown Goode supplemented the collection by a tour to Europe in 1892, and the collection grew further through the donation of keyboard instruments by Hugo Worch, a Washington, D.C., piano dealer, between 1914 and 1921.
  • Renamed the Section of Musical Instruments in 1886, it reported to the Department of Arts and Industries through 1896, the Department of Anthropology, 1897-1902, and subsequently formed a part of the Division of Ethnology of that Department until 1957. Edwin H. Hawley became Custodian of the Collection in 1885, remaining until his death in 1918. Worch was Honorary Custodian of Musical Instruments, 1920-1938, and George D. McCoy was Curator of the Section, 1927- circa 1929; otherwise it came under the responsibility of ethnology curators Walter Hough, 1918-1935, and Herbert William Krieger, 1935-1957.
  • With the creation of the Museum of History and Technology in 1957, the Section of Musical Instruments became part of the Division of Cultural History, Department of Civil History. In 1966, the Section was given divisional status in the Department. In 1987, the Division was renamed the Division of Musical History. In 1994 the Division was placed under the Department of History's Division of Cultural History.
  • Curators and staff of the Division have included John D. Shortridge, Associate Curator of Musical Instruments, 1958-1960; John T. Fesperman, Concert Director, 1966, Associate Curator, 1967-1971, Curator, 1972-1987, Curator of Musical History, 1987- ; Cynthia A. Hoover, Assistant Curator of Musical Instruments, 1961-1963, Associate Curator, 1964-1974, Curator, 1975- ; James Merle Weaver, Concert Director, 1967-1972, Assistant Curator of Musical Instruments, 1973-1975, Associate Curator, 1976-1986, Curator, 1987- ; John Edward Hasse, Curator, 1985- ; Horace Clarence Boyer, Curator, 1985-1987; Sheridan Germann, Research Associate, 1980; and Scott Odell, Instrument Convervator, 1982-1994; Museum Specialists Helen R. Hollis, 1964-1984, Robert E. Sheldon, 1971-1987; and Gary Sturm, Collections Manager, 1978- .
  • 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


  • 1881
  • 1881-1994


  • Musical instruments
  • Music
  • Historical museums
  • Museums
  • History
  • Music--History
  • Museum curators


Mixed archival materials

Local number

SIA AH00127

Full Record

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