Arts and Industries Building, Room 2135
900 Jefferson Drive, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20560
(202) 357-1420

Guide to the Smithsonian Archives (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1983).
Cf. Victoria Agee, et. al., (compls.) National Inventory of Documentary Sources in the United States:-- Federal Records -- Index 1985 (Teaneck, NJ and Cambridge, England: Chadwyck-Healey, Inc., 1985). Of special interest are entries 1358 & 1422 [Canal Zone Biological Area/ Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Records, 1912-1965, 8.6 cu. ft., RU-135 & Records, 1918-1964, 4.6 cu. ft., RU-134]; entry 1508 [National Institute for the Promotion of Science, 1840-1862, Records, 1839-1963, 6.2 cu. ft., RU-7058, which includes materials on James P. Espy]; and entry 1542 [Leonhard Stejneger (1851-1943), Papers, 1753, 1867-1945, 14.3 cu. ft., RU-7074].

CHARLES G. ABBOT PAPERS, 1889-1973, and Records of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (RU-7005) (30 linear meters and oversize)

Charles G. Abbot (1872-1973), the fifth Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, came to the Institution in 1895 as an assistant to Secretary Samuel P. Langley in the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. In 1906 he was named Director of the Astrophysical Observatory, a position which he held until his retirement in 1944. He became an Assistant Secretary of the Institution in 1918, and served as Secretary from 1928 to 1944. Most of Abbot's research centered around studies of solar radiation and attempts to determine the relationship between solar variations and the earth's weather. These papers consist mainly of records of the Astrophysical Observatory under the directorship of Samuel P. Langley, Charles G. Abbot, and Loyal B. Aldrich.

ARRANGEMENT: (1) Astrophysical Observatory daybooks, 1889-1907; (2) energy spectrum books, circa 1882-1904; (3) Astrophysical Observatory waste books, 1890-1948; (4) charts of solar constant readings taken at Mt. Montezuma, Chile, and Table Mountain, California, 1920-1948; (5) Astrophysical Observatory correspondence, 1920-1955; (6) bolographic plates--energy spectrum scans, circa 1927-1956; (7) reminiscences contributed to the Smithsonian Archives, 1970; (8) miscellaneous personal correspondence; (9) publications. FINDING AIDS: Preliminary inventory in control file. SPECIAL CONDITIONS: (1) Much of this material consists of records of the Astrophysical Observatory and will be removed from this record unit as it is processed; (2) series 4 partially microfilmed.

(0.9 linear meter and oversize).

The papers of Alexander Dallas Bache (1806-1867) relate to his study of European education, his appointment as Superintendent of the United States Coast Survey, his professional intercourse with other scientists on a broad range of topics, his own research, and his work on the Lighthouse Board. They include diaries, 1836-1837, of his study of educational institutions in Britain; correspondence, 1821-1866, documenting his European trip, his work on education during the years 1839-1841, and his contact with the American scientific community; small collections of papers concerning the Coast Survey, the Lighthouse Board, and the Smithsonian Institution; letters to his wife, Nancy Clarke Fowler Bache; and a small collection of posthumous papers.

ARRANGEMENT: (1) Diaries, 1836-1837; (2) outgoing correspondence, 1836-1841; (3) incoming correspondence, 1821-1866; (4) incoming correspondence, 1849; (5) Coast Survey papers, 1849, 1853-1854; (6) Lighthouse Board papers, 1853-1864; (7) lectures, reports, papers; (8) Smithsonian Institution notes, circa 1847-1855; (9) letters of recommendation of Bache; (10) honors and appointments, 1821-1865; (11) correspondence of Nancy Bache, 1859-1869; (12) posthumous; (13) magnetic and meteorological observations at Girard College, 1840-1845. FINDING AIDS: Description in control file.

JEAN LOUIS BERLANDIER PAPERS, 1826-1851, and related papers to 1886 (RU-7052) (2.5 linear meters).

Jean Louis Berlandier (circa 1805-1851), anthropologist, geographer, historian, meteorologist and naturalist, was one of the earliest scientists to explore northeastern Mexico and southeastern Texas. A native of France, Berlandier studied pharmacy in Geneva, and later studied botany under Auguste-Pyrame de Candolle at the Academy of Geneva. In November, 1826, Berlandier was assigned by de Candolle to collect natural history specimens in the northeastern part of Mexico, including Texas. Berlandier maintained an extensive record of meteorological observations begun when he left France in 1826. In May 1851, Berlandier drowned while crossing a river south of Matamoros.

Between 1855 and 1886, various persons connected with the Smithsonian used these papers, particularly Berlandier's zoological and meteorological data, for research and editing. Their notations, abstracts, and other materials are part of this record unit. James Henry Coffin, who reduced the meteorological observation data, which Joseph Henry intended to publish; and Walter L. Nicholson and Cleveland Abbe, both of whom attempted to edit the works of Berlandier and Coffin, but were unable to complete the project.

HENRY HELM CLAYTON PAPERS, 1877-1949, and undated (RU-7153)
(1.6 linear meters and oversize).

Henry Helm Clayton (1861-1946) was a meteorologist and weather forecaster. He began his career in 1884 as an assistant at the University of Michigan's Astronomical Observatory. In 1885 he was appointed assistant at Harvard University's Astronomical Observatory, and from 1886 to 1891 served as an observer at Harvard's Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory. From 1891 to 1893 he worked as a local forecast official with the United States Weather Bureau. In 1894 Clayton returned to the Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory, where he served as a meteorologist until 1909. Clayton became Chief of Argentina, Clayton pursued research on a system of weather forecasting based on solar heat changes and began corresponding with Charles G. Abbot of the Smithsonian Institution, who was also conducting research on solar variation. From 1923 to 1926 he conducted research, in cooperation with the Smithsonian, on the effect of solar variation on world weather patterns. Clayton directed a private weather forecasting service and served as a consulting meteorologist for business organizations from 1920 until his death.

The papers of Henry Helm Clayton document his career as a meteorologist and weather forecaster and his research on solar variation. They consist mainly of professional and personal correspondence, including a large amount with Charles G. Abbot concerning solar research. Also included are weather forecasts, meteorological data, photographs, newspaper clippings, manuscripts, and related materials on meteorology. The small amount of correspondence and meteorological data that post-dates Clayton's death in 1946 was compiled by his daughter, Frances Lindley Clayton.

ARRANGEMENT: (1) General correspondence, 1886-1949, and undated; (2) weather forecasts, meteorological data, photographs, newspaper clippings, manuscripts, and related materials on meteorology, 1877-1949, and undated. FINDING AIDS: Description in control file.

(0.1 linear meter).

James Henry Coffin (1806-1873) was a mathematician and meteorologist, who specialized in the study of wind velocity. Coffin graduated from Amherst College in 1828, and taught at various schools and colleges. Coffin began his meteorological studies in 1838. While at Williams College, 1840-1843, he installed an apparatus on Mt. Greylock, New York, for automatically recording the direction and the velocity of the wind. From 1846 until his death, Coffin held a chair of mathematics and natural philosophy at Lafayette in meteorology. Two of Coffin's studies, Winds of the Northern Hemisphere and Winds of the Globe were published by the Institution in 1853 and 1875, respectively. Cf. Arnold Guyot, "Memoir of James H. Coffin," Biog. Mem. Natl. Ac. Sci. 1 (1877): 257-64; John C. Clyde, The Life of James H. Coffin, LL.D. (Easton, PA, 1881).

These papers consist of correspondence concerning temperature, wind, and weather reports of the Hudson Bay region, 1848; resolutions of condolence to Coffin's son, Seldon J. Coffin, from students and alumni of Lafayette College after Coffin' death, 1873; newspaper articles; an illustration of James H. Coffin; and the original manuscript of Winds of the Northern Hemisphere. Additional correspondence of James Henry Coffin exists elsewhere in the Smithsonian Archives, especially in the Joseph Henry Collection, record unit 7001, and Meteorological Project Records, record unit 60.

ARRANGEMENT: (1) Correspondence and newspaper articles; (2) manuscripts. FINDING AIDS: Description in control file.


(0.1 linear meter).

Thomas Coulter (1793-1843) was an Irish physician and botanist who collected plants in Mexico and California, 1824-1834. From 1824 to 1827 he traveled from London to Vera Cruz. This journal consists of daily meteorological observations taken by Coulter on this journey.


WILLIAM H. DALL PAPERS, circa 1839-1858, 1862-1927 (RU-7073)
(10 linear meters).

William Healy Dall (1845-1927), was a naturalist who took meteorological observations in Alaska for the Smithsonian Institution. Relevant entries include: (4) correspondence, 1865-1927; (5) registers of letters received and written, 1865-1878, 1882-1927; (6) diaries, 1865-1927; (7) Western Union Telegraph Expedition notebooks, 1865-1868; (12) reports and other material on expeditions, 1861-1925.

(0.9 linear meter).

The Division of Physical Sciences was established in the Department of Science and Technology in 1957 to be responsible for collections in the history of astronomy, chemistry, astrophysics, geology, meteorology, and classical physics.

These records consist of public inquiries concerning general scientific instruments; memoranda, layout plans, photographs, and scripts for exhibits, including plans for the proposed Hall of Physics, Mathematics, and Astronomy in the Museum of History and Technology; correspondence with foreign and domestic science museums, colleges and universities, professional scientific societies, and manufacturers and collectors of scientific instruments, administrative records consisting of annual reports, plans of operations, and memoranda; files documenting Cannon's role in the bicentennial celebration of James Smithson's birth; and files on interns' research in the Division.

ARRANGEMENT: (1) Administrative files, 1961-1976; (2) exhibits, 1956-1976; (3) general correspondence, 1956-1976; (4) public inquiries, 1962-1976; (5) bicentennial celebration of James Smithson's birth, 1964-1967; (6) interns' research, 1962-1965. FINDING AIDS: None. SPECIAL CONDITIONS: Restricted.

JOSEPH HENRY COLLECTION, 1808, 1825-1878, and related papers to circa 1903 (RU-7001) (8.6 linear meters and oversize).

Joseph Henry (1797-1878) had careers as scientist, teacher, promoter of research, and administrator, which are documented in depositories throughout the world. The majority of the documentation in the Smithsonian Archives consists of secretarial records dating from 1865 to 1878 and his collection of personal and professional papers.

This collection includes the full range of Henry's activities from 1825 through 1878, although the years after he became Secretary in 1846 are more fully represented than those before. Henry carried on correspondence with many of the great scientific men of his day, and the correspondence runs the gamut from details of scientific research to the broadest questions of scientific policy and the growth of professional scientific organization. Henry's work in electromagnetism is documented, as is his role in the development of the telegraph; and the many papers and addresses he gave on scientific, educational, and other topics are an important resource. His work in meteorology can be studied here and in the Meteorological Project records. A considerable segment of the papers deals with the Lighthouse Board, to which Henry was appointed in 1852, and with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Philosophical Society of Washington. One of Henry's daughters, Mary A. Henry, compiled extensive information for a biography of her father, which is also included in the Henry collection.

A letterpress edition of Henry's papers is being produced by the Joseph Henry Papers, a cooperative editorial project located at the Smithsonian Institution. The Joseph Henry Papers holds no original documents, but it does have extensive information on the location of Henry documents which is utilized by the Smithsonian Archives in answering research inquiries.

Cf. W.B. Taylor, "The Scientific Work of Joseph Henry," in A Memorial of Joseph Henry (Washington, 1880) and Philosophical Society of Washington Bull. 2 (1874-78): 230ff; Simon Newcomb, "Memoir of Joseph Henry," Biog. Mem. Natl. Ac. Sci. 5 (1905); Thomas Coulson, Joseph Henry: His Life and Work (Princeton, 1950); Nathan Reingold and Marc Rothenberg (eds.), The Papers of Joseph Henry 7 Vols. (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1972-1996).

ARRANGEMENT: (1) Incoming and outgoing correspondence, 1808, 1825-1878; (2) outgoing correspondence, letterpress, 1865-1878; (3) letters to and from James H. Coffin, 1842-1873; (4) diaries, 1835-1877; (5) research and lectures; (6) Lighthouse Board; (7) honors, invitations, awards; (8) publications by Joseph Henry; (9) oversize; (10) memorials; (11) Harriet Henry papers, 1825-1878; (12) Mary A. Henry papers, including her work on the projected biography of Joseph Henry; (13) family letters form other depositories. FINDING AIDS: (1) Joseph Henry Papers computer index, providing name and subject access to part of the Henry Collection; (2) card index to letters in chronological series (Item 1 above); (3) shelf list of Henry items, 1971; (4) Michele Aldrich, Calendar of the Unknowns, a list of difficult-to-identify items; (5) pocket notebooks of Joseph Henry, control file; (7) Joseph Henry, honors and awards, control file; (8) Joseph Henry, invitations and notices, control file; (9) Henryana Abstract and Index to Abstract, an obsolete finding aid to the collection before present arrangement was imposed, sometimes useful. SPECIAL CONDITIONS: Microfilm available for most of the collection; other pieces may require special order microfilming or photocopying. All requests for permission to publish must be approved by the Joseph Henry Papers.

SAMUEL P. LANGLEY PAPERS, 1867-1906 (RU-7003)
(9.5 linear meters and oversize)

Samuel P. Langley (1834-1906) was the third Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Apparently many of Langley's papers were accidentally burned after his death. Langley papers in the Smithsonian are housed in the Smithsonian Archives and the National Air and Space Museum (NASM). The Allegheny Observatory holds papers from Langley's years there, from which copies of Langley's correspondence, 1867-1887, have been made for this collection. Cf. L. Obendorf, Samuel P. Langley: Solar Scientist, 1867-1891 (Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms, 1969.)

ARRANGEMENT: (1) Publications, including a bound collection of writings, and original manuscripts of many of Langley's publications, 1869-1905; (2) diaries and shorthand notebooks, mostly kept by Langley's secretary, 1889-1905; (3) bolograph curve and line spectrum readings; (4) microfilm and photocopies of Langley's outgoing correspondence from the Allegheny Observatory, 1867-1887; (5) astrophysical research correspondence; (6) scrapbooks, 1890-1903.

METEOROLOGICAL PROJECT, 1849-1875 (data from 1820) (RU-60) Records (2.5 linear meters).
Joseph Henry's first major project at the Smithsonian was his plan to obtain weather reports from a country-wide network of voluntary observers; his plan is detailed in the Institution's 1848 Annual Report. Voluminous reports, maps, tables, and charts were prepared and published on all phases of the work -- rainfall, snowfall, temperatures, barometric pressure, storms, meteors, auroras, and other phenomena. In 1874, after Congress had established a federal storm-warning service under the direction of the Chief Signal Officer, the Smithsonian system of meteorological reports was discontinued and the observers were instructed to report to the federal service. The Smithsonian continued to work on the material collected up to the time of transfer, however, and over the next few years issued reports,

tables, and maps. A part of this record unit was published in the 1873 Annual Report, pages 84-131, "Classified Record of Monthly Meteorological Reports Preserved in the Smithsonian Institution;" and other segments of this unit were published elsewhere. Incoming and outgoing meteorological correspondence is completely unpublished, however. Correspondents include Lorin Blodget, James Henry Coffin, James Pollard Espy, Arnold Henry Guyot, Joseph Henry, Elias Loomis, and Charles Anthony Schott. These records were created after 1850, but contain meteorological information dating back to 1820.

ARRANGEMENT: (1) Incoming correspondence, 1852-1861, 1868; (2) miscellaneous correspondence, notes, reports, 1853-1875; (3) Lorin Blodget's outgoing correspondence, 1853-1854; (4) manuscript copy for the "Classified Record of Monthly Meteorological Reports Preserved in the Smithsonian Institution," Annual Report, 1873, pp.84-140; (5) records relating to studies of monthly and annual mean temperatures in the United States and elsewhere in the Americas, data for years 1820-1875; (7) records relating to atmospheric pressure, data for years 1850-1873; (8) records of meteorological observers, 1856-1860, 1868-1873; records of instrument distribution, 1850-1870; list of publications on meteorology; (9) clippings on meteorology, 1853-1873 with gaps; (10) miscellaneous meteorological records; (11) oversize, published meteorological maps. FINDING AIDS: Description in control file. SPECIAL CONDITIONS: Microfilm copies of incoming correspondence, 1852-1861, 1868, are available.

For further information see James R. Fleming, "Meteorology in America, 1814-1874: Theoretical, Observational, and Institutional Horizons" (Princeton Univ.: Ph.D. Dissertation; Ann Arbor, MI: University Microfilms, #88-09302, 1988).

(0.8 linear meter).

This collection consists of 112 logbooks maintained by various New England fishing schooners during voyages conducted from 1852 to 1862. The logbooks contain data regarding weather conditions, number of fish caught, and, to a lesser degree, types of fish caught.


Correspondence Registers (0.1 linear meter).

These registers are for letters burned in the 1865 Smithsonian Building fire.

OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY (JOSEPH HENRY, SPENCER F. BAIRD), 1863-1879 (RU-26) Incoming Correspondence (12.7 linear meters).

This series consists mostly of correspondence addressed to Joseph Henry, much of which received his personal attention; also included are some copies of Henry letters, occasional returned original Henry letters, and a considerable number of letters to Baird. Cf. William H. Dall, Spencer Fullerton Baird, A Biography (1915).

ARRANGEMENT: Numerous alphabetical series numbered from volume 1 through volume 183; (1) volumes 1-75, 1863-1869, unbound and rearranged in two-alphabetic series; (2) volumes 76-183, 1866-1879, alphabetic in several series, FINDING AIDS: (1) Card indexes, providing mostly proper name access; references are to volume and page numbers, although records for volumes 1-75 are located alphabetically; (2) most volumes indexed individually; (3) alphabetic arrangement of records serves as an additional finding aid. SPECIAL CONDITIONS: (1) Many items are missing, especially from the first 75 volumes; (2) record unit available on microfilm.

Abstracts of Incoming and Outgoing Correspondence (0.5 linear meter).

The date of compilation this abstract is unknown, although presumably it was done in part before the 1865 fire.

ARRANGEMENT: Chronologic with indications of source of abstract in official records. (1) October 30, 1864-July 19,1869; (2) February 20, 1865-October 30, 1869. FINDING AIDS: None.

OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY, 1865-1873, 1882 (RU-35)
Letters Written register (0.8 linear meter).

Letters entered in the register were also abstracted briefly, and occasionally the abstract is the only version of the letter available.

ARRANGEMENT: Chronologic. (1) January 1865-September 1868; (2) May 1871-December 1971; (3) January 1872-April 1873, 1882. FINDING AIDS: None.

OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY, 1865-1873, 1883-1912 (RU-36)
Letters Received Registers (2.7 linear meters).

Letters entered in the registers were also abstracted briefly, and occasionally the abstract is the only version of the letter available.

ARRANGEMENT: Chronologic. There are four series of register numbers represented in existing register books: one which is operation in 1865; a second which began and ended in 1873; a third which began in 1879, but which is first represented in these register books in 1883 and ends in 1894; and a fourth which began in 1895. FINDING AIDS: Bound indexes referring to register numbers as follows: 1870, 1873, 1874-1876, 1883-1886, circa 1887-1894.

Incoming Correspondence (0.3 linear meter).

These secretarial records apparently were separated from the main series before the latter were bound; they may be integrated in to the main series later.

ARRANGEMENT: Alphabetic and chronologic. FINDING AIDS: None

Outgoing Correspondence (8.2 linear meters).

ARRANGEMENT: Chronologic. FINDING AIDS: (1) Card index providing mostly proper name access; unreliable after 1889; (2) an index in each volume also provides mostly proper name access. SPECIAL CONDITIONS: (1) Deteriorating letterpress affects legibility; (2) record unit available on microfilm.

OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY (JOSEPH HENRY, SPENCER F. BAIRD), 1870-1876, 1883-circa 1894 (RU-38)
Miscellaneous Indexes and Abstracts (0.9 linear meter).

ARRANGEMENT: Alphabetic and chronologic; (1) index of letters received, 1870; (2) index to letters attended to, 1873; (3) synopsis of letters received, 1874-1875; (4) synopsis of letters received, 1875-1876; (5) subjects of letters written, undated; (6) index of letters received, January 1-April 30, 1883; (7) index of correspondence, April 30, 1883-December 31, 1886, circa 1887-1894.

Incoming Correspondence, Requests for Publications and Assistance (2.7 linear meters).

Mostly ephemeral; contains records of the Chief Clerk.

ARRANGEMENT: Alphabetic. FINDING AIDS: Each volume indexed individually. SPECIAL CONDITIONS: Record unit available on microfilm.

Outgoing Correspondence (5.7 linear meters).

Shortly after Samuel P. Langley became Secretary, a new system of organizing outgoing correspondence was devised. Some of the records have not survived to the present; hence, there are gaps in series numbers.

ARRANGEMENT: (1) General, 59 volumes, 1892-1907; (6) Astrophysical Observatory, 14 volumes, 1892-1907; (20) Aerodromics, 10 volumes, 1891-1907. FINDING AIDS: (1) Card index, combing index for incoming and outgoing; provides access mostly by proper name, usually with the letter abstracted on the card; (2) indexes in bound volumes; (3) volume list in control file. SPECIAL CONDITIONS: (1) Deteriorating letterpress affects legibility; (2) record unit partially microfilmed.

OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY (SAMUEL P. LANGLEY), 1891-1906 and related records to 1908 (RU-31)
Incoming Correspondence (18.5 linear meters).

These records document the administration of the Smithsonian during most of the tenure of Samuel P. Langley, its third Secretary. Langley's own papers were destroyed by fire soon after his death; but a significant amount of his research in astrophysics and aerodynamics ("aerodromics," as he called it) is preserved the records of the Secretary's office.

ARRANGEMENT: (1) General correspondence, arranged alphabetically; (2) Smithsonian bureaus; (3) Hodgkins Fund documents and correspondence; (4) Government departments. FINDING AIDS: (1) Description in control file; (2) card index providing mostly proper name access, usually with letter abstracted on the card; (3) special bound index to Hodgkins Fund correspondence.

Records (29.1 linear meters).

These records chiefly document the policy and administration of the Smithsonian under Charles G. Abbot, 1928-1944, though they overlap parts of the administrations of Secretaries Walcott and Wetmore. Contains records of Abbot's research in solar radiation and climatic studies. ARRANGEMENT: Alphabetic including two subunits for government, one for Smithsonian administration and budgets, and one for international congresses. FINDING AIDS: (1) Card Index, prepared when records were created or received, providing mostly proper name access and usually abstracting the letter; (2) folder list in control file. SPECIAL CONDITIONS: Arrangement will be changed.

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