These records contain material concerning both the Smithsonian and United States National Museum (USNM) libraries and consist mostly of incoming and outgoing correspondence. Most of the correspondence is routine and deals with requests for publications, acknowledgments of publications received, the exchange of publications, employment inquiries, staff matters, and administrative policy.
Correspondents include Smithsonian and Museum administrative officers and staff, libraries, scientific institutions and societies, and the general public. Of special interest is correspondence regarding the evacuation of rare books, manuscripts, and archival material from the library during World War II. Other material includes ledgers, logbooks, and other records relating to books borrowed and lent, publications deposited in the Library of Congress, and the exchange of publications with other institutions; and records relating to the construction of book stacks in the main hall of the Smithsonian Institution Building, 1914-1915.
The Act organizing the Smithsonian Institution in 1846 provided for the "...gradual formation of a library, composed of valuable works pertaining to all departments of human knowledge." Charles C. Jewett became the first administrator of the Smithsonian Library in 1847. After Jewett's resignation in 1854, the position of Librarian remained vacant until the appointment of Frederick William True in 1881. During the interim, library affairs were administered by Secretary Joseph Henry and Assistant Secretary Spencer F. Baird. Administrative officers of the Smithsonian Library included True, 1881-1887; John Murdoch, 1887-1892; J. Elfreth Watkins, July-October, 1892; Cyrus Adler, 1892-1909, including the years 1905-1909 when he held the title of Assistant Secretary in charge of Library and Exchanges; F. W. True, 1911-1914, with the title Assistant Secretary in charge of Library and Exchanges; Paul Brockett, 1914-1924, with the title Assistant Librarian; William L. Corbin, 1925-1942; and Leila F. Clark, 1943- .
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 217, Smithsonian Institution, Libraries, Records
Smithsonian Institution Archives
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