The Bigger Picture: Visual Archives and the Smithsonian
Hot Topics at the Smithsonian Institution Archives
October is American Archives Month, and to celebrate, the Smithsonian is hosting a month-long blog-a-thon, an online Q&A with Smithsonian archivists and conservators, a lecture series, film series, and an opportunity to consult with archives experts at Ask-the-Smithsonian. For schedule and details, please visit the Archives Fair website.
When asked what the Smithsonian Institution Archives collects, I say we hold records about the history of the Smithsonian and its people, programs, research, and activities. While accurate, it doesn’t really give anyone a clue about what is actually in those records.
Recently, in updating a webpage, I turned to our reference team to find out what people have been researching at the Archives recently. I got some pretty interesting responses. Although not comprehensive, it gives you a snapshot of the diversity of the collectionss, and in turn, the history of the world’s largest museum complex!
- The historical architectural records of the Arts & Industries Building to inform its restoration
- The changing views of feral animals by Smithsonian and Department of Interior biologists
- The Smithsonian during the Civil War
- Portrayal of disability and accommodation of disability in Smithsonian exhibits
- Alice Pike Barney and her efforts to transform Washington, D.C., into the nation's cultural capital in the early 20th century
- The Columbian Institute (1816-1838), an institution dedicated to the diffusion of information about agriculture, manufacturing, and natural resources (the collection includes correspondence from John Quincy Adams and Thomas Jefferson)
- The intersection of field naturalists, commerce and tourism in the Caribbean in the early 20th century