Reference Request

* required
Please succinctly provide us with any information pertinent to your inquiry. If you are writing to us about a research request, provide as much detail as possible about the collections in which you are interested (including collection numbers, box numbers, and folder titles).
(if known)

The Smithsonian Institution Archives is using Constant Contact, a third-party contact management software vendor, to manage contacts and send eNewsletters. Please be advised that Constant Contact's Privacy Statement and Terms and Conditions apply to your use of these services. The Smithsonian Institution Archives has access to your name and email address which is subject to our privacy statement.

Finding Aids to Oral Histories in the Smithsonian Institution Archives

Record Unit 9636

Smithsonian Institution

African American Contributions to the Smithsonian Oral History Interviews, 2015-2016

Repository: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Washington, D.C. Contact us at osiaref@si.edu.
Creator: Smithsonian Institution
Title: African American Contributions to the Smithsonian Oral History Interviews
Dates: 2015-2016
Quantity:
Collection: Record Unit 9636
Language of Materials: English
Summary:

To celebrate the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in September of 2016, the Institutional History program of Smithsonian Institution Archives conducted a series of oral history interviews with African Americans who made significant contributions to the Smithsonian Institution over their careers. Michael R. Barnes (1956- ) was born March 4, 1956 in Washington, D.C. He began his career at the Smithsonian in the Duplicating Branch of the Office of Printing and Printing Services. He has been working as a photographer for the Smithsonian since 2009. He is best known for his photography of the building of the NMAAHC, as well as of the Million Man March and the presidential inaugurations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Jeannine Smith Clark (1928- ) was born on October 5, 1928 in Washington, D.C. She received her B.A. and M.A. in African Studies from Howard University. She began her work with the Smithsonian in 1968 as a volunteer docent. She chaired the volunteer program of the Smithsonian Women's Committee in the late 1970's and early 1980's. In 1983 she was appointed to the Board of Regents, where she became the first chairwomen of the Cultural Education Committee in 1986. She is now an Emeritus Regent. Shireen Dodson (1951- ) was born July 2, 1951 in New Jersey and moved to Washington, D.C. in the 1970's. She received her B.S. from Morgan State University and her juris doctorate from Seton Hall Law School. At the Smithsonian, she worked as the Assistant Director of the Accounting and Financial Services Office, Smithsonian Institution Comptroller and with the African American Museum Project. She is now at the United States State Department. Shirley Ann Jackson (1946- ) grew up in Washington, D.C., before attending Massachusetts Institute of Technology for her B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. in theoretical physics and particle physics. After a career at Bell Labs, Rutgers University and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, she was named president of Renssalear Polytechnic Institute in 1999. She served on the Smithsonian Board of Regents from 2005 to 2017.

Historical Note

The Smithsonian African American Contributions interviewees include Jeannine Smith Clark, Shireen Dodson, Michael R. Barnes, and Shirley Ann Jackson.

Top of Page

Introduction

The Smithsonian Institution Archives (SIA) began its Oral History Program in 1973. The purpose of the program is to supplement the written documentation of the Archives' record and manuscript collections with an Oral History Collection, focusing on the history of the Institution, research by its scholars, and contributions of its staff. Program staff conduct interviews with current and retired Smithsonian staff and others who have made significant contributions to the Institution. There are also reminiscences and interviews recorded by researchers or students on topics related to the history of the Smithsonian or the holdings of the Smithsonian Institution Archives.

To celebrate the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in September of 2016, the Institutional History program of Smithsonian Institution Archives conducted a series of oral history interviews with African Americans who made significant contributions to the Smithsonian over their careers.

Top of Page

Descriptive Entry

These interviews discuss their contributions to the Smithsonian as African American volunteers, employees, and regents, their relationships to the rest of the Smithsonian, notable programs they developed, significant challenges, reminiscences of colleagues, and interaction with the public and staff.

The Smithsonian African American Contributions Oral History Interviews collection is comprised of 6 interview sessions, totaling approximately 7 hours of recordings and c. 340 pages of transcripts. The interviews were conducted in 2015-2017 by intern Olivia Sayah and historian Pamela M. Henson.

Jeannine Smith Clark (1928-2018) was born on October 5, 1928 in Washington, D.C. She received her BA and MA in African Studies from Howard University. She began her work with the Smithsonian in 1968 as a volunteer docent. She chaired the volunteer program of the Smithsonian Women's Committee in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In 1983 she was appointed to the Board of Regents, where she became the first chairwomen of the Cultural Education Committee in 1986. She was now a Emeritus Regent.

Shireen Dodson (1951- ) was born July 2, 1951 in New Jersey and moved to Washington, D.C. in the 1970s. She received her BS from Morgan State University and her juris doctorate from Seton Hall Law School. At the Smithsonian, she worked as the Assistant Director of the Accounting and Financial Services Office, SI Comptroller and with the African American Museum Project from 1980 to 2000. She is now at the United Nations.

Michael R. Barnes (1956- ) was born March 4th, 1956 in Washington, D.C. He began his career in 1977 at the Smithsonian in the Duplicating Branch of the Office of Printing and Printing Services. He has been working as a photographer for the Smithsonian since 2000. He is best known for his photography of the building of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, as well as of the Million Man March and the presidential inaugurations of George W. Bush and Barak Obama.

Shirley Ann Jackson (1946- ) grew up in Washington, D.C., before attending Massachusetts Institute of Technology for her B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. in theoretical physics and particle physics. After a career at Bell Labs, Rutgers University and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, she was named president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1999. She served on the Smithsonian Board of Regents from 2005 to 2017.

Top of Page

Use Restriction

Restricted. Contact SIHistory@si.edu to request permission.

Top of Page

Preferred Citation

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 9636, African American Contributions to the Smithsonian Oral History Interviews

Top of Page

Container List

Interviews

Interview 1: November 17, 2015

Interviews

Interview of Jeannine Smith Clark by Olivia Sayah covers her role as a volunteer, docent, member of the Smithsonian Board of Regents, and chair of the Cultural Education Committee in the 1960s through 2015.

Interviews

Transcript, pp. 1-17.

Interviews

Audio Recording of Interview: Total recording time: 00:57 hours

Interviews
Original Masters: 2 digital audio .wav files
Reference Copies: 2 digital audio .mp3 files

Interview 2: December 1, 2015

Interviews

Interview of Shireen Dodson by Olivia Sayah covers her role as a financial administrator and with the African American Museum Project at the Smithsonian from 1980 to 2000.

Interviews

Transcript, pp. 1-14.

Interviews

Audio Recording of Interview: Total recording time: 00:40 hours

Interviews
Original Masters: 1 digital audio .wav file
Reference Copies: 1 digital audio .mp3 file

Interviews 3-5: June 13, 2016; August 4, 2016; and August 30, 2016

Interviews

Interviews of Michael R. Barnes by Pamela M. Henson covers his career at the Smithsonian since 1977, initially as a printer with the Office of Printing and Photographic Services, transition to digital printing, and career as a Smithsonian photographer, covering people, events, construction and object photography. The third session was videotaped to allow him to talk about specific photographs and projects.

Interviews

Transcripts, pp. 1-263.

Interviews

Audio and Video Recording of Interview: Total recording time: 05:10 hours

Interviews
Original Masters: 8 digital audio .wav files and 7 digital video AVCHD .mts files
Reference Copies: 8 digital audio .mp3 files and 7 digital video .mov files

Interview 6: January 30, 2017

Interviews

Interview of Shirley Ann Jackson by Pamela M. Henson covers her years on the Smithsonian Board of Regents from 205 to 2017, including her role as chair of the committee to restructure the Regents in the late 2000s.

Interviews

Transcript, pp. 1-53.

Interviews

Audio Recording of Interview: Total recording time: 01:56 hours

Interviews
Original Masters: 3 digital audio .wav file
Reference Copies: 3 digital audio .mp3 file