The Smithsonian Institution Archives began its Oral History Program in 1973. The purpose of the program is to supplement the written documentation of the Archives' record and manuscript collections with an Oral History Collection, focusing on the history of the Institution, research by its scholars, and contributions of its staff. Program staff conduct interviews with current and retired Smithsonian staff and others who have made significant contributions to the Institution. There are also interviews conducted by researchers or students on topics related to the history of the Smithsonian or the holdings of the Smithsonian Institution Archives.
Wetmore was interviewed for the Oral History Project because he has made significant scholarly and administrative contributions to the Smithsonian during 50 years of service.
Wetmore was interviewed by Miriam Freilicher on April 18 and May 8, 1974. The interviews consist of reminiscences of his field work, expeditions for the Biological Survey, administration, changes, growth and finances of the U.S. National Museum, reminiscences of colleagues, notably John L. Keddy, Louise M. Pearson, and James Zetek, and the acquisition of the Canal Zone Biological Area.
Alexander Wetmore (1866-1978), B.A., University of Kansas, 1912 and Ph.D., George Washington University, 1920, pursued a career of ornithological field work beginning with the U.S.D.A. Bureau of Biological Survey from 1910-1924. After working informally with Smithsonian collections for many years, he was appointed Superintendent of the National Zoological Park in 1924 and as Assistant Secretary in charge of the U.S. National Museum in 1925. In 1945 he became Secretary of the Institution and during his tenure oversaw the acquisition of the Canal Zone Biological Area. After his retirement in 1952, he continued as a Research Associate of the Institution. Dr. Wetmore was well-known for his research and publications of North and South American birds.
Smithsonian Institution Archives
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