Wilson Bentley's Snowflake 234, c. 1890

ID: SIA RU000031 [SIA2013-09134]

Creator: Bentley, W. A (Wilson Alwyn) 1865-1931

Form/Genre: Albumen prints

Date: 1890

Citation: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 31, Image No. SIA2013-09134

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Wilson A. Bentley first became fascinated with snow during his childhood on a Vermont farm, and he experimented for years with ways to view individual snowflakes in order to study their crystalline structure. He eventually attached a camera to his microscope, and in 1885 he successfully photographed the flakes. This photomicrograph and more than five thousand others supported the belief that no two snowflakes are alike, leading scientists to study his work and publish it in numerous scientific articles and magazines. In 1903 Bentley sent prints of his snowflakes to the Smithsonian, hoping they might be of interest to Secretary Samuel P. Langley. This image is of a lamellar snowflake.


Alternate ID: SPI_266

Cite as

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 31, Image No. SIA2013-09134

Repository Loc.

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Capital Gallery, Suite 3000, MRC 507; 600 Maryland Avenue, SW; Washington, DC 20024-2520


  • 1890
  • c 1890

Restrictions & Rights

  • No access restrictions Many of SIA's holdings are located off-site, and advance notice is recommended to consult a collection. Please email the SIA Reference Team at osiaref@si.edu
  • No Copyright - United States


  • Snowflakes
  • Microscopes
  • Photomicrography


  • Albumen prints
  • Black-and-white photographs

Local number

SIA RU000031 [SIA2013-09134]

Physical description

3.7 x 3.2

Full Record

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