Relation Between the Smithsonian Institution and the Library of Congress

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  • Explains reasons for transferring the Smithsonian Library collections to the Library of Congress including, the fire of 1865; benefits incurred by the transfer, such as, librarian's salaries and binding costs undertaken by the Library of Congress; freeing space in the Smithsonian building; accessioning of the Smithsonian's extensive collection by the Library of Congress; and retention of Smithsonian usage rights to the collection. Includes a description of the removal of the library in 1866-67, and transfer of the SI's librarian, Theodore N. Gill. He was later succeeded by John Murdoch, who was, in turn, replaced by Cyrus M. Adler.
  • The work also discusses the advantages of consolidating the two libraries, and provides examples. The author does make the point that this accession, coupled with the copyright law of 1870, created a situation where the Library of Congress was running dangerously low on space. the new Library of Congress building, completed in 1897, allowed the SI collection to be arranged and stored more efficiently and utilized to its greatest benefit.


  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Gill, Theodore Nicholas
  • Adler, Cyrus 1863-1940
  • Library of Congress
  • United States Congress
  • Smithsonian Institution Libraries (SIL)


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography


Spofford was the Librarian of Congress when this article was written.

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,




  • Law
  • SI, Early History
  • Transfers
  • Legislation

Physical description

pp. 823-832

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