Bicentennial of the Birth of James Smithson Celebration

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  • To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of James Smithson, the founding donor of the Smithsonian Institution, Secretary S. Dillon Ripley organized a three day celebration and symposium with scholars from around the world. The event included an academic procession, addresses by Chief Justice Earl Warren and Thomas Boylston Adams, concerts and a parade by the United States Marine Corps, a banquet, presentation of the Hodgkins Medal and Smithson Medal, and lectures by distinguished scholars. The James Smithson Medal was newly created to honor those who made a substantial contribution to Smithson's institution. New flags were designed for each Smithsonian museums and research center.
  • A book, "Knowledge Among Men: Eleven Essays on Science, Culture, and Society Commemorating the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of James Smithson," was published in 1966 from the symposium. It contained essays by Jerome S. Bruner, Herbert Butterfield, Sir Kenneth Mackenzie Clark, Ian McTaggart Cowan, G. Evelyn Hutchinson, Arthur Koestler, Claude Levi-Strauss, Lewis Mumford, Robert Oppenheimer, Stephen E. Toulmin, and Fred L. Whipple.


  • Whipple, Fred Lawrence 1906-
  • Smithson, James 1765-1829
  • Ripley, Sidney Dillon 1913-2001
  • Bruner, Jerome S (Jerome Seymour)
  • Butterfield, Herbert Sir 1900-
  • Clark, Kenneth 1903-
  • Cowan, Ian McTaggart 1910-
  • Hutchinson, G. Evelyn (George Evelyn) 1903-
  • Koestler, Arthur 1905-
  • Lévi-Strauss, Claude
  • Mumford, Lewis 1895-
  • Oppenheimer, J. Robert 1904-1967
  • Toulmin, Stephen Edelston
  • Warren, Earl 1891-1974
  • Adams, Thomas Boylston
  • James Smithson Medal
  • James Smithson Bicentennial Celebration 1965
  • Bicentennial Celebration Commemorating the Birth of James Smithson 1965
  • Knowledge Among Men (Publication)
  • United States Marine Corps
  • Hodgkins Fund and Medal


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • The date of James Smithson's birth has been calculated to be 1765, but there are no known records of his date or place of birth.
  • Paul H. Oehser, editor, Knowledge Among Men: Eleven Essays on Science, Culture, and Society Commemorating the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of James Smithson, Washington, D.C.: Simon and Schuster in cooperation with the Smithsonian Institution, 1966.
  • Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 142, Records of the Smithson Bicentennial, Office of the Secretary, 1964-1966.

Contact information

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


September 16, 17, 18, 1965


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