This record unit traces the operation of the Smithsonian from 1925 to 1949. It contains records from the last years of Secretary Charles D. Walcott's administration, perhaps most notably the ambitious but abortive fund raising campaign to add $10,000,000.00 to the Smithsonian's endowment. The Depression and consequent cut-backs in government support are also present in the records, as well as Smithsonian contributions to World War II, which naturally had a significant impact on operations as well. Smithsonian bureaus that were created, enlarged, or significantly changed during these years, and which are represented here, include the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory; the National Gallery of Art (now the Smithsonian American Art Museum); the National Gallery of Art created from the gift of Andrew Mellon; the National Zoological Park; the National Air and Space Museum; and the Canal Zone Biological Area (now the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute). Secretary Charles G. Abbot, whose tenure these records chiefly document, found his job complicated by the effects of the Depression and World War II. The principal event of his administration was Andrew Mellon's gift of a national art museum. Abbot created a Division of Radiation and Organisms within the Astrophysical Observatory, which he had directed and which remained his chief interest. He was also able to use Works Progress Administration funds to produce major improvements at the National Zoological Park. The Smithsonian maintained its ties with the National Academy of Sciences, the Carnegie Institution, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the National Research Council, the National Geographic Society, and similar organizations. During World War II the Smithsonian was instrumental in operating the Ethnogeographic Board, and co-operated with the Office of Scientific Research and Development. Topics in these records include: the Johnson-Smithsonian Expedition to the Puerto Rico Trench, 1932; the Eighth American Scientific Congress, Washington, 1940; the Smithsonian Scientific Series; North American Wildflowers; the Langley-Wright controversy; the River Basin Survey; the abortive design competition for a museum of modern art, won by Eliel and Eero Saarinen and Robert Swanson; "The World Is Yours" radio programs; Robert H. Goddard's rocket research; the Langley Medal; private funding for the Smithsonian, particularly the Tamblyn and Brown plans for a 1927 campaign and the associated 1927 Conference on the Future of the Smithsonian; and Abbot's research in solar radiation and climatic studies.
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 46, Smithsonian Institution, Office of the Secretary, Records
Smithsonian Institution Archives
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