As part of the Smithsonian Institution’s celebration of its Sesquicentennial in 1996, a 150th Birthday Party was held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., over the course of two days in August. At the Smithsonian Institution Archives tent, staff of the Institutional History Division and volunteers conducted interviews with 39 Smithsonian current and former staff members and visitors. Staff interviewees discussed their reminiscences of the Institution and their careers. Visitor interviewees discussed their reminiscences of earlier visits to the Smithsonian. Over 300 visitors to the Smithsonian Archives tent also participated in completing "Smithsonian Memories" sheets, writing about their fondest memories about visiting the Smithsonian.
Interviewees included: Luis Abad; John S. Anderson; Jason Bezis; Carolyn Jean Blitz; Carol Carpenter; Elizabeth Coggins; Eugene Day; Craig Deering; Sherrone Dunhamm; Kathleen Fargey; Davis Florick; Nancy Frank; Wilfred Genung-Keats; Mark Gruenberg; Wendy Heine; Catrina Hill; Francine Henderson; Mildred Henninger; Alejandre Jimenez; B. J. Kreider; Valerie Lambert; Scott Marquiss; Terry Mennefield; Heather Mitchell; Geary S. Mizuno; Richard Montoya; Fred Moosburgger; Mary Novak; Mark C. Paulett; Alexis Radokay; Christopher Robis; Richard Sacett; Lisa-Anne Samuels; Ruth Schallert, Jane Scholl; Nicole Sobotka; Krista Strider; John Vetter; Pauline Vetter; Ellis L. Yochelson; Beatrice Youngblood. In conjunction with the individual interview sessions held at the Smithsonian Institution Archives tent, 11 informal, group interview sessions were conducted with Smithsonian staff at the Narrative Stage tent.
Staff interviewees discussed their careers, daily work, and job experiences. Topics for discussion were "The Art of Scientific Illustration," "Smithsonian's America: Looking Back at an Exhibit," "Genealogy, Family History, and Preservation," "What is Repatriation?," "Looking Back at the History of Flight," "Rainforests and Elephants: Doing Fieldwork and Exhibits," "Building a National Zoo," "Keeping the Nation's Treasure House Secure," "Keeping Track of the Nation's Attic: Talking with Registrars," "Taking Care of the National Collections," and "Office of Smithsonian Archives: An Overview." Interviewees included Luis Abad; John S. Anderson; Gary Aronson; Jason Bezis; Carolyn Jean Blitz; Nigel Briggs; Lonnie G. Bunch; Carol Carpenter; Emanuel Chase; Elizabeth Coggins; William Cox; Myron Curtis; Eugene Day; Craig Deering; Sherrone Dunhamm; Jennifer Fairman; Kathleen Fargey; Davis Florick; Shelley Foote; Nancy Frank; Wilfred Genung-Keats; Frank M. Greenwell; Mark Gruenberg; Wendy Heine; Catrina Hill; Francine Henderson; Mildred Henninger; Pamela M. Henson; Lauri Hinksman Swan; Elaine R. S. Hodges; Michael Horsley; Ellen Roney Hughes; Alejandre Jimenez; Claudia Brush Kidell; B. J. Kreider; Valerie Lambert; Steve D. Lubar; Scott Marquiss; Terry Mennefield; Beth Miller; Heather Mitchell; Geary S. Mizuno; Richard Montoya; Fred Moosburgger; Karen Mudar; Mary Novak; Mark C. Paulett; Catherine Perge; Louis R. Purnell; Alexis Radokay; Doug Robinson; Christopher Robis; Mark Rothenberg; Richard Sacett; Lisa-Anne Samuels; Ruth Schallert, Jane Scholl; Wendy Ann Shay; Ikuko Shoybayshi-Turner; Nicole Sobotka; James Steed; Krista Strider; Paul Harold Theerman; William Turner; John Vetter; Pauline Vetter; Ellis L. Yochelson; Amanda Young; and Beatrice Youngblood.
Interviewers included Laurie Aceto; Martin Collins; Dan Davies; Rosa Fernandez; Terrica M. Gibson; Barbara Hart; Edie Hedlin; Chandra Heilman; Pamela Henson; Tom Lawrence; Jennifer Page; Catherine Perge; Kathleen Robinson; and Martha Rosen.
The collection consists of fifty interview sessions, totalling approximately 38 hours and 15 minutes of recordings.