The materials in this accession document Weiss' work in the Office of Correspondence and Documents, the Department of Geology, and as Registrar for the USNM. Among those represented in the collection are Ray S. Bassler, Alexander Wetmore, Herbert S. Bryant, and Leonard Carmichael. Of interest are two diaries of Bassler which cover the time period from 1942-1947 and passport photographs of administrators, scientists, curators, and other individuals within the Smithsonian.
The collection is organized into the following subseries: 1) Helena Weiss; 2) Ray S. Bassler; 3) Smithsonian Institution. Materials include correspondence, memoranda, a scrapbook, notebooks, record books, diaries, black-and-white photographs, postcards, certificates, awards, and ephemera.
Raised in Shipman, Illinois, Helena M. Weiss attended the Butler Business College in Butler, Pennsylvania as well as graduated from the Wheeler Business College in Birmingham, Alabama before she began her career as a museum registrar and administrator. Her work began as a stenographer for the Veterans Administration in 1930. A year later she was appointed Junior Clerk-Stenographer in the Office of Correspondence and Documents (renamed the Office of Correspondence and Records in 1947) of the United States National Museum (USNM) and in 1935 Weiss transferred to the Department of Geology. By 1948 Weiss returned to the Office of Correspondence and Records as an Administrative Assistant and later that year would advance to Chief after the retirement of Herbert S. Bryant. In 1956 her title was changed to Registrar and she remained in that position until her retirement in 1971.
As one of the first women managers at the Smithsonian Institution, Weiss was responsible for the central filing system of the USNM, public inquiry mail, mail service, accession reports, loans and exchanges, shipping, foreign travel, customs regulations, insurance, and workman's compensation. During her tenure, Weiss was involved in the acquisition of such museum specimens as the Wright Brothers' plane, "Kitty Hawk," the Hope Diamond, and the Fenykovi elephant.
Smithsonian Institution Archives
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