Agency history, 1961-1975

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  • Brown, John Nicholas 1900-1979
  • Magruder, John H. III
  • Hutchins, James S


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
  • The National Armed Forces Museum Advisory Board (NAFMAB) was created by Act of Congress in 1961 to plan for the establishment of a national museum to honor America's armed forces. The museum, which was to be a Smithsonian bureau, would include a study center named in honor of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. John Nicholas Brown served as Chairman of the Board, 1963-1975.
  • Colonel John H. Magruder, III, served as the Director of NAFMAB from 1963 until his death in 1972. He struggled unsuccessfully to bring the museum into existence, gathering military weapons and artifacts and lobbying tirelessly to acquire various sites for the project. None of Magruder's efforts succeeded, in part because of the American involvement in the Vietnam War and some unfortunate publicity which likened the museum to a Disneyland of war. With Magruder's death, the project was weakened further. In 1973 the Smithsonian decided to salvage at least a part of the 1961 law by bringing the study center into existence. The Eisenhower Institute for Historical Research was established in the National Museum of History and Technology (NMHT).
  • Although the legislation was never formally repealed, Smithsonian management in the 1970s did not favor the museum. The Advisory Board was ordered to divest itself of the material that had been gathered; and in 1975 the Board recommended that all further efforts to build the museum cease.
  • After Magruder's death, James S. Hutchins was named Acting Director and then Director of NAFMAB, 1973-1975. Hutchins was eventually transferred to the staff of the Eisenhower Institute.
  • 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


  • 1961
  • 1961-1975


  • Museums
  • Military
  • Military history
  • Military museums


Mixed archival materials

Local number

SIA AH00141

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