Biographical Information


Biographical information can be found throughout the Archives’ holdings. These collections are especially rich in material documenting Smithsonian staff and scientific collaborators.

  • Accession 05-123, Smithsonian Institution, Personnel Records, 18921952
    This accession consists of early personnel records. Notable staff include: C.G. (Charles Greeley) Abbot, Carl Whiting Bishop, John Wesley Powell, Mary Jane Rathbun, Richard Rathbun, William Jones Rhees, Robert Ridgway, Thomas W. Smillie, Leonhard Stejneger, Charles Doolittle Walcott, and Mary Vaux Walcott. Materials include offer letters, letters of dismissal, payroll records, correspondence from employees, biographies, death notices, and, for some personnel, identification photographs used for employee badges.
  • Record Unit 7098, Biographical File
    This collection contains biographies of individuals associated with the Smithsonian as either administrative officers, curators, collectors, donors, regents, or research associates. The biographical file, accessible by personal name, consists primarily of news clippings, photographs, press releases, and obituaries. Biographical subjects include Howard I. Chapelle, maritime and naval historian; Joseph Henry, scientist and first secretary of the Smithsonian Institution; and Thomas William Smillie, 1st staff photographer at the Smithsonian. The finding aid is periodically updated.
  • Record Unit 420, Office of Public Affairs, Biographical Files, circa 19631988
    These files consist of biographical information on Smithsonian figures, most of whom were employed or active in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Persons covered in the files primarily include Board of Regents members, directors, other office heads, and various notable employees. Occasional materials on docents, volunteers, and contributors to the collections are also present. Many of the entries in this file resulted from a single event or single newspaper article, while important figures, such as regents and museum directors, are quite well documented. Accretions to this file, dated 1927-1993, can be found in Accessions 95-136, 98-147, 99-020, and 99-048.
  • Record Unit 372, Office of Public Affairs, Clippings, circa 19642005
    These files consist of newspaper clippings and often include obituaries of Smithsonian staff. Accretions can be found in Accessions 01-078, 99-052, 98-025, 03-044, 06-079, and 08-063.
  • Record Unit 7230, United States National Museum, Department of Geology, Biographical File
    This biographical file was maintained by the United States National Museum's Department of Geology and several of its curators. Included in the file are biographies; obituaries; memoirs; and memorial service programs and addresses of prominent scientists, particularly American geologists and paleontologists, as well as some notable Smithsonian Institution personnel. Also included are newspaper feature stories about geologists and their important geological discoveries or contributions to their field of study. Many of the publications include published prints or an occasional photograph of the subject.
  • Record Unit 7320, National Museum of Natural History, Division of Mammals, Biographical File, 18601973 and Undated
    This biographical file was maintained by the United States National Museum's (USNM) Division of Mammals (later the National Museum of Natural History). It contains a variety of materials documenting the lives and careers of scientists from a wide range of fields including mammalogy, ornithology, ichthyology, herpetology, botany, entomology, paleontology, and geology. Also included are files on conservationists, taxidermists, historical figures, explorers, frontiersmen, and hunters. The files include biographical sketches, memoirs, obituaries, articles, bibliographies, news clippings, press releases, correspondence, and photographs.
  • Record Unit 7323, Systematic Entomology Laboratory, Photographs, and Biographical Information, 17971988 and Undated
    This record unit includes obituaries, magazine and newspaper articles, correspondence, bibliographies, photographs, handwriting samples, book reviews, and biographical sketches. Information on a number of entomological societies such as the Cambridge Entomological Club, the Entomological Society of America, and the Royal Entomological Society of London, is also included. In addition, the collection contains photographs of entomologists collected for the most part by Eugene Amandus Schwarz and Herbert Spencer Barber, USDA entomologists associated with the United States National Museum. Included are formal portraits, casual photographs, photographs taken during field work, and group photographs. There are also photographs of field work sites from around the world. An accretion to this file, dated circa 1918-1994, can be found in Accession 96-080.
  • Record Unit 7401, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Entomology, Biographies of Entomologists, circa 18501982
    This collection consists mostly of biographical sketches, memorials, newspaper obituaries, and articles on domestic and foreign entomologists. Also included are a few articles on the history of entomology.
  • Record Unit 7308, American Ornithologists' Union (AOU), Biographical Files, 1883present
    This record unit consists of an alphabetic file of biographical information on past and present ornithologists and naturalists, not all of whom were members of the AOU. Entries consist of clippings, memorials, press releases, obituaries, pamphlets, and reminiscences. Most modern entries consist of curricula vitae, biographical forms, and, often, bibliographies.
  • Accession 06-209, Personnel Cards, 18461966
    These cards contain information on early Smithsonian staff. The cards often include home addresses, job titles, promotions, birth places, and sometimes have information on guards, building management personnel, and other staff not normally found listed in annual reports or other reference sources.
  • Record Unit 93, Smithsonian Institution Fiscal Records, Federal, 18471942
    The employment history of Smithsonian staff can sometimes be traced in the payroll records found in this collection. These records include ledgers, account books, bills, daybooks, journals, receipted vouchers, records of payment, requisitions, cash books, and other fiscal records documenting the Smithsonian's congressional appropriations.
  • Annual Reports of the Smithsonian Institution and the United States National Museum
    This group of records contains necrologies and are located in the Archives Reading Room.