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A brief history of the Smithsonian Institution Library which includes the role of the library in the Congressional debates and final Smithsonian legislation; the Board of Regents' emphasis on building the Smithsonian collection; influence of the first librarian, Charles Coffin Jewett, and his eventual resignation; transfer of the majority of the collection to the Library of Congress and its continued growth; beginnings of the United States National Museum library; donations to the collections and the beginning of branch libraries under Secretary Samuel P. Langley.


  • Choate, Rufus, 1799-1859
  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Jewett, Charles C (Charles Coffin) 1816-1868
  • Owen, Robert Dale 1801-1877
  • Board of Regents
  • Library of Congress
  • Smithsonian Institution Libraries (SIL)
  • United States Congress
  • United States National Museum


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography


Written by the Smithsonian's librarian, Cyrus Adler.

Contained within

The Smithsonian Institution, 1846-1896, The History of its First Half Century (Book)

Contact information

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




  • Library science
  • Law
  • Congressional Debates
  • SI, Early History
  • Libraries
  • National Collections
  • Legislation

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