Find a Falling Star: Harvey Nininger Takes on the Smithsonian, 1932-1939

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The author states that this paper is his effort to set the historical record straight concerning the relationship meteorite finder Harvey Nininger, in his autobiography "Find a Falling Star," claimed to have had with the Smithsonian during the 1930's. Author Plotkin allows that the Smithsonian began to sponsor a portion of Nininger's fieldwork in the early 1930's and agreed to purchase some meteorite specimens from him at market prices. This arrangement broke down several years later when Associate Curator Ed Henderson felt Nininger was charging too much for specimens which were also low-quality meteorites, and the relationship collapsed entirely in 1939 with matters surrounding the recovery of the Goose Lake meteorite. Plotkin disputes Nininger's account of that event, as well as others in the autobiography, and states that he demonstrates how those accounts cannot be taken at face value.


  • Nininger, Harvey
  • Wetmore, Alexander 1886-
  • Henderson, Edward Porter
  • United States National Museum


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography


Article is one of the "Abstracts of Papers Presented at the 1996 Meeting of the Meteorites and Impacts Advisory Committee Meeting Held in St. Hubert" included on Page 216 of the Journal.

Contained within

Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada Vol. 91 (Journal)

Contact information

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


October 1997


  • Meteorites
  • Secretaries
  • Collectors and collecting
  • National Collections
  • Meteorology

Physical description

p. 216

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