The Smithsonian Institution Libraries: Afoot in Three Camps

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Discusses the Smithson bequest and history of Smithsonian Institution Libraries (SIL), especially the roles of Joseph Henry, Charles Coffin Jewett and Spencer Fullerton Baird. SIL's three-pronged role as a museum library, research library and a special collections library is examined, and the influence of museum principles on SIL's preservation program is discussed. Article includes a chronology of SIL history and notes.


  • Baird, Spencer Fullerton 1823-1887
  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Jewett, Charles C (Charles Coffin) 1816-1868
  • Smithson, James 1765-1829
  • Dibner Library
  • Smithsonian Institution Libraries (SIL)
  • Library of Congress Relations with the Smithsonian


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography


Article adapted from a presentation given at the American College & Research Libraries Rare Books and Manuscripts Preconference, "Libraries and Museums: Leaves from Each Others' Books," July 6, 1988, in New Orleans, LA.

Contained within

College and Research Libraries Vol. 50 (Journal)

Contact information

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


March 1989


  • Smithson Bequest
  • Conservation and restoration
  • Preservation
  • Congressional Debates
  • SI, Early History
  • Libraries
  • National Collections

Physical description

pp. 206-214

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