These records comprise the primary outgoing correspondence of the officer in immediate charge of the United States National Museum from the appointment of George Brown Goode as Assistant Director in 1880. Volumes are numbered sequentially with the prefix "L." Records from the years 1879-1881 mostly pertain to the United States Fish Commission, and Commission business is included through the year of Spencer F. Baird's death in 1887. In 1888, Goode was made Assistant Secretary in Charge of the United States National Museum. After Goode's death in 1896, the business of this office was administered for a time by the Executive Curator, Frederick W. True. Richard Rathbun became Assistant Secretary in 1898, but most correspondence in this series in the period 1896-1902 is signed by the Executive Curator; after that, most is signed by the Assistant Secretary.
Several peculiarities of this record series should be noted. Predominance of Fish Commission correspondence in the pre-1881 years has been described. Although volumes are numbered sequentially, dates do not always follow in strict chronological order; sometimes special books were designated for an official to use when out of the city or when discharging special duties. Many letters are signed by subordinates and quite a few are signed by the Secretary or by the Assistant Secretary as Acting Secretary. Apparently, the sequential numbering was imposed at a later date than the earliest volumes, although the exact time of numbering is not known. These records were in the custody of the Registrar for many years.
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 112, Smithsonian Institution, Assistant Secretary in charge of the United States National Museum, Correspondence and Memoranda
Smithsonian Institution Archives
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