The Smithsonian Institution: Its Origin, Growth, and Activities

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This article provides detailed information on early Smithsonian history including, the Smithson bequest, speculations on Smithson's motives for donating the money to the United States, description of the transfer of the money, and the Congressional debates that ensued. The original bill is reprinted as well. The article also includes a description of the construction of the Smithsonian Institution Building and the space allocation in the building at the time of publication. There are short sections devoted to: the International Exchange Service, publications, the Library, the National Museum, the Bureau of American Ethnology, the National Zoological Park, Astrophysical Observatory, and Hodgkins Fund and Prizes. The publication has several nice photographs of individuals and buildings.


  • Smithson, James 1765-1829
  • Hodgkins, Thomas George
  • Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology
  • International Exchange Service (IES)
  • National Museum of Natural History (U.S.)
  • National Zoological Park (U.S.)
  • Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
  • Smithsonian Institution Building (Washington, D.C.)
  • Smithsonian Institution Libraries (SIL)
  • United States Congress
  • United States National Museum
  • Hodgkins Fund and Medal


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography

Contained within

Appleton's Popular Science Monthly (Journal)

Contact information

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


January and February 1896


  • Natural history museums
  • Publishers and publishing
  • Architecture
  • Congressional Debates
  • SI, Early History
  • Museums
  • Management
  • Smithson Bequest
  • Observatories
  • Zoos
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • Philanthropists
  • Gifts
  • National Collections
  • Buildings
  • Management--Museums
  • Museum publications


United States

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