Will of James Smithson

Stories from the Smithsonian

Ever wonder what it was like to live in Washington, DC during the Civil War?  Or what traveling to Alaska in the 1860s might have been like?  The Smithsonian Institution Archives has letters, diaries, and photographs that bring these worlds alive. Take a look at numerous interesting documents from individuals who left their mark on Smithsonian history collections, including the eyewitness account of Mary Henry, daughter of the first Smithsonian Secretary, of the Civil War in the city of Washington; explorer William H. Dall's observations of Alaska in the 1860s; letters from Solomon G. Brown, the first African American employee at the Smithsonian Institution; the Wright Brothers’ discovery of flight;  Wilson A. “Snowflake” Bentley’s race to capture the fleeting life of a snowflake; and several other individuals who left their mark on Smithsonian history.

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