The Rise and Fall of the Bureau of American Ethnology

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Traces history of the Bureau of American Ethnology at the Smithsonian, from its founding in 1876 under John Wesley Powell, through its expansion in the early twentieth century, to its merger with the National Museum of Natural History, Department of Anthropology in the 1960s. Closes with observation that the Smithsonian's voluntary repatriation of Native American human remains and sacred objects was aided by the careful research and documentation of the early BAE anthropologists.


  • Powell, John Wesley 1834-1902
  • Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology
  • Museum of Natural History (U.S.) Office of Anthropology
  • National Museum of Natural History (U.S.) Dept. of Anthropology


Smithsonian History Bibliography

Contained within

Journal of the Southwest 41, no. 3 (Journal)

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,


Autumn 1999


  • Archaeology
  • Repatriation
  • Anthropology
  • Anthropolgy
  • Museums
  • Anthropologists
  • Archaeologists
  • Anthropological museums and collections


United States

Physical description

Number of pages: 14; Page numbers: 283-296

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