Frank A. Taylor (1903-2007) was a Curator of Engineering and Industries and an administrator at the Smithsonian. He was born in 1903 in Washington, D.C., where he grew up. Taylor began his career at the Smithsonian in 1922 as a Laboratory Apprentice in the Division of Mechanical Technology of the United States National Museum (USNM). After receiving his B.S. in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1928 and his J.D. from Georgetown University in 1934, he became a Curator in the Division of Engineering at USNM and advanced to Head Curator of the Department of Engineering and Industries in 1948. During the 1950s, Taylor chaired the Exhibits Modernization Committee of the USNM. In 1955 he was appointed Assistant Director, USNM, with special responsibility for planning the new Museum of History and Technology (MHT), later the National Museum of History and Technology (NMHT) and now the National Museum of American History (NMAH), and in 1958 was appointed the first Director of the new museum. In 1962 Taylor became Director of the USNM with responsibility for both the National Museum of Natural History and National Museum of History and Technology, and in 1968 was appointed Director General of Museums. Taylor retired from the Smithsonian on January 23, 1971.
Active in the international museum community, especially through the American Association of Museums and the International Council of Museums, Taylor worked on national legislation to support museums, notably the National Museum Act. After his retirement, Taylor continued to work at the Smithsonian as a Research Associate of the Smithsonian Institution Archives and as Consultant to the Secretary until 1983.
Among his other accomplishments were that during the depression, he was assistant director of the Historical American Merchant Marine Survey, Works Progress Administration Federal Project #6, which was administered through the Smithsonian. Then during World War II, Taylor served as a Battery Commander in the 734th AAA Gun Battalion and as an Enemy Property Custodian Officer in the Southern Philippines until being honorably discharged as a Major in the Artillery Reserve.
These personal papers contain materials that document the personal life of Frank A. Taylor and his family. The son of Augustus C. Taylor and Josephine Kubel, Taylor was born in Washington, D.C. and graduated from McKinley High School. He also spent time working in his father's drug store, Taylor's Pharmacy. The collection contains genealogical research and information on members of the Taylor and Kubel families, including Taylor's grandfather, Edward Kubel, who was a professionally trained instrument maker who immigrated to Washington from Bayreuth, Germany in 1849. There are also materials related to Taylor's service in the military, both while in Europe and the Philippines.
In addition there are materials documenting Taylor's work while at the Smithsonian Institution including the building of the National Museum of American History, exhibition development, and projects on which he consulted for the Smithsonian.
Materials include correspondence, memoranda, yearbooks, grant proposals, contracts, posters, invitations, passports, immigration papers, scrapbooks, notes, articles, speeches, audiocassettes, images, floor plans, maps, newsletters, guides, clippings, brochures, and ephemera. Some materials are in German.