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.
STRI staff who lived on Barro Colorado Island and raised their families in this unique environment were interviewed as a group to capture what life was like living and and working in this remote tropical location.
This interview by Pamela M. Henson, historian, Smithsonian Institution Archives, was recorded at the Rands' home in Gamboa, Panama, and documented reminiscences of former colleagues, students, visitors, and staff at STRI from the late 1950s to 1990, including experiences with ants (Paraponera), snakes, food, beer, long-term residence on Barro Colorado Island, increasing institutional management of STRI in recent years, laundry, pets, and children.
This collection is comprised of one interview session, totaling approximately 1.0 hour of recording, and 40 pages of transcript. There are two generations of tape for each session: original reel-to-reel tapes and reference tapes. In total, this collection is comprised of 2 original 7" reels and 1 reference copy audio cassette tape. The original tapes are reserved in preservation storage.
Restrictions: Permission must be secured to quote from the Nicholas D. and Tanis Smythe portions of the interview. Contact SIHistory@si.edu to request permission.