Smithsonian Scientific Series Published

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  • The Smithsonian Institution initiates publication of the Smithsonian Scientific Series, a twelve volume set on the history and activities of the Smithsonian Institution. The purpose of the Series was to increase the unrestricted endowment of the Smithsonian Institution; to help publicize the Smithsonian and its various programs; and to promote the diffusion of knowledge. Originally conceived in 1924 by Smithsonian Secretary Charles Doolittle Walcott, the Series was published between 1929 and 1949 during the tenures of Secretaries Charles Greeley Abbot and Alexander Wetmore. Two editions of the Series were published. The first, called the James Smithson Memorial Edition, consisted of twelve volumes which were sold for $500. This edition was a deluxe set limited to 875 copies and quickly sold out.
  • As a result of that success, a common edition known as the Patrons Edition, was also published, consisting of twelve volumes and selling for $100. The difference in the Memorial and Patrons Editions were apparently not in the textual content, but rather in the quality of the printing and binding. The contents of the volumes were either historical or descriptive, providing an overview of the Smithsonian's programs since its founding. The Series was sold by agents who were sent out into the field to obtain subscriptions. A Study Guide in General Science and Biology for the Smithsonian Scientific Series was also published in 1936 to facilitate the use of the Series in the classroom. The Smithsonian Scientific Series was published until 1949.


  • Walcott, Charles D (Charles Doolittle) 1850-1927
  • Wetmore, Alexander 1886-
  • Abbot, C. G (Charles Greeley) b. 1872
  • Smithsonian Scientific Series
  • Smithsonian Institution Series, Inc


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Additional information is located in the SI Archives Research File.
  • Smithsonian Scientific Series, Charles Greeley Abbot, editor, New York: Smithsonian Institution Series, Inc., 1929-1932.

Contact information

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




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