Guide to Federal Records

Records of the Smithsonian Institution

(Record Group 106)
1871-1952

Overview of Records Locations

Table of Contents

  • 106.1 Administrative History
  • 106.2 Cartographic Records (General) 1874-1952
  • 106.3 Motion Pictures (General) 1903-50
  • 106.4 Sound Recordings (General) 1912-41
  • 106.5 Still Pictures (General) 1871-1934

106.1 Administrative History

Established: As an independent agency by an act of August 10, 1846 (9 Stat. 102), for the "increase and diffusion of knowledge among men," under terms of the 1829 will of James Smithson of London. Governed by a Board of Regents, consisting of the Vice President, the Chief Justice, three members each from the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, and nine other American citizens appointed by joint resolution of Congress. Under general or immediate direction of the Smithsonian Institution are nineteen museums and nine research centers.

Functions: Performs research. Publishes results of studies, explorations, and investigations. Preserves for study and reference scientific, cultural, and historical items. Maintains museums and exhibits of the arts, American history, aeronautics and space exploration, technology, and natural history. Engages in national and international cooperative research and training programs.

Finding Aids: Charlotte M. Ashby, Kenneth Bartlett, Thomas Devan, and Forrest R. Holdcamper, comps., "Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the Smithsonian Institution," NC 108 (1965).

Related Records:
Records relating to the Smithsonian's early interest in developing fisheries, in RG 22, Records of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
Records of the Smithsonian's Meteorological Division, 1845-73, in RG 27, Records of the Weather Bureau.
Most records of the Smithsonian Institution are in the Smithsonian Institution Archives, Washington, DC.

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106.2 Cartographic Records (General)
1874-1952

Maps: Isothermal maps showing annual, summer, and winter mean temperatures in the United States, 1874 (3 items). Cherokee Indian Nation, 1884 (3 items). Floral areas of the State of Washington, 1906 (1 item). Indian land cessions in Indiana, for the First Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, 1881 (1 item). Distribution of American Indian linguistic stock in North America and Greenland, by John Wesley Powell, for the Seventh Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, ca. 1887 (1 item). Distribution of Indian tribal and linguistic groups in South America, 1950 (1 item). Indian tribes in North America, for Bulletin 145, Bureau of American Ethnology, 1952 (4 items).

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106.3 Motion Pictures (General)
1903-50

Preparation of an anthropological exhibit at the Smithsonian, produced by the Bureau of American Ethnology, ca. 1934 (1 reel). Archaeological explorations and diggings in AZ, CO, NM, TN, Yucatan, and Honduras, 1931-41 (13 reels). Development of an intertribal sign language dictionary of the American Indians of the Great Plains, and the theory, history, and practice of the sign language, ca. 1930-31 (13 reels). History of the planning and development of Washington, DC, 1929, 1950 (4 reels). History of flight, 1903-27 (1 reel). Events in the life of Charles A. Lindbergh, 1927-32, (16 reels). Glider exhibition and contest, ca. 1931 (1 reel).

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106.4 Sound Recordings (General)
1912-41

Songs and linguistic material in Indian languages, including Aleut, Mission, Chumash, and Creek, with some translations, from the Bureau of American Ethnology, 1912, 1914, 1930-41 (122 items). Radio series "The World is Yours," broadcast for the Smithsonian Institution by the U.S. Office of Education, 1936-41 (300 items).

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106.5 Still Pictures (General)
1871-1934

Photographs: American Indians, including chiefs, delegations, and scenes of Indian villages, 1871-1907 (IN, INE; 293 images). Indians, Mormons, petrified forests, ranch life in Arizona Territory, and the Grand Canyon, by F.A. Ames, 1887-89 (FAA, 127 images).

Photographic Prints, Negatives, and Lantern Slides: Collected by Hugh M. Smith, showing fish and marine life; fishing and the fishing industry; and the customs and cultures of several foreign countries and the United States, 1886-1934 (HSA, HSB, HSC, HSD, HSE, 1,887 images).

Glass Negatives: Geological formations and topography, American Indians, archeological ruins, mining survey members, and military posts, taken by Timothy O'Sullivan and William Bell during the U.S. Geographical Surveys West of the 100th Meridian ("Wheeler Survey"), including stereoscopic negatives, 1871-74 (WA, WB, 492 images).

Stereoscopic Glass Negatives: Yellowstone Expedition of 1873, organized to escort and protect the Northern Pacific Railroad Survey, taken by William R. Pywell, 1873 (YX, 84 images).

Lantern Slides: Philadelphia Naval Shipyard and vicinity, and various ship scenes in Scotland, taken and collected by Nathaniel L. Dewall, 1899-1900 (RP, 54 images). Construction of the Panama Canal, Canal Zone scenes, and such notables as Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, William H. Taft, and Woodrow Wilson, 1900-14 (RC, 228 images). Europe, Middle East, and Philippine Islands, 1911-18 (RM, 60 images). Effects of World War I on life in Belgium and France, 1917-19 (RW, 138 images).

Watercolor Sketches: Pottery, ruins, and Acoma, Cochiti, and Laguna pueblos, by Matilda Coxe Stevenson, 1882 (MCS, 21 images).


Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States. Compiled by Robert B. Matchette et al. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1995.
3 volumes, 2428 pages.

Ordering information

This Web version is updated from time to time to include records processed since 1995.


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