One Hundred Years of Smithsonian Anthropology

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  • Work positions SI as a leading participant in the field of anthropology (ethnology), with particular emphasis on New World aborigines. Stresses the importance of cooperation and voluntary work in the study of anthropology at the SI. Explains that SI money was not used for anthropological research: circulars were sent out asking for information, directions for the retrieval of information were sent to teachers, missionaries, scholars, Army officers, etc., who would be able to interact with aboriginal peoples or with their artifacts, questionnaires were sent to world scholars and the replies forward to the chief of the investigation. Work also discusses the publications of the SI dealing with the study of anthropology, including pieces in the Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge and articles in the appendices of the Annual Reports.
  • Discusses cooperative projects undertaken by the SI in collusion with other scholary institutions. Mentions the SI's relationship with government exploration parties with particular emphasis on the Colorado River Survey (John Wesley Powell). Discusses the growth of the national collections and the accessioning of the Patent Office specimens. Gives a detailed history of the Division of [Department of] Anthropology and discusses the researches of the Bureau of American Ethnology and the work of Powell. Discusses the Bureau's publications. Discusses the establishment of the Institute of Social Anthropology and how these three bureaus have come together cohesively to strive for the elevation of the study of anthropology at the Smithsonian.


  • Powell, John Wesley 1834-1902
  • National Museum of Natural History (U.S.) Dept. of Anthropology
  • Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology
  • United States Patent Office
  • Smithsonian Institution Institute of Social Anthropology
  • Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge (Publication)
  • Colorado River Survey


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography


Roberts was Assistant Chief, Bureau of American Ethnology. Good historical background and chronology of the Department of Anthropology.

Contained within

Science Vol. 104 (Journal)

Contact information

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




  • Scientific expeditions
  • Interagency Transfers
  • Museums
  • Memorandums
  • Volunteers
  • Smithsonian Annual Reports (publication)
  • Museum publications

Physical description

pp. 119-125

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