The Henderson Network versus the Prairie Network: The Dispute Between the Smithsonian's National Museum and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Over the Acquisition and Control of Meteorites, 1960-1970

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Discusses the power struggle between the National Museum of Natural History's Edward P. Henderson and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory's Fred Lawrence Whipple during the 1960's. Both recognized the need for more meteorites to be located, recovered, and made available for research, but had very different views on which of these two Smithsonian branches should have jurisdiction over the meteorite program. The dispute was resolved in 1970 when the backgrounds and strengths of both branches began to work in unison: SAO efforts tracked and recovered the Lost City meteorite, but the NMNH was responsibile for distribution of the meteorite samples.


  • Clarke, Roy S., Jr
  • Whipple, Fred Lawrence 1906-
  • Henderson, Edward Porter
  • Carmichael, Leonard 1898-1973
  • Prairie Meteorite Network
  • United States National Museum
  • Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
  • National Museum of Natural History (U.S.)
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • National Museum of Natural History (U.S.) Dept. of Mineral Sciences


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography


Four photographs are included and 27 references listed.

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,


February 1997


  • Astrophysics
  • Meteorites
  • Secretaries
  • National Collections
  • Meteorology

Physical description

pgs. 32-38

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