Alexander Wetmore (1886-1978) was the sixth Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. A well-known ornithologist and avian paleontologist, Wetmore served as Secretary from 1945 to 1952. Wetmore came to the Smithsonian in November 1924 as Superintendent of the National Zoological Park after a fourteen-year career with the Bureau of Biological Survey of the United States Department of Agriculture. In March 1925, he was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Smithsonian in charge of the United States National Museum (USNM), a post he held until his appointment as Secretary in 1945. Wetmore retired in 1952 and was made an honorary Research Associate of the Smithsonian, where he continued his study of recent and fossil birds until his death.
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Addl. KW Subjects:
Crowds (RU 7306) Massachusetts
(1) General correspondence, 1901-1977 and undated, with related materials from 1879; (2) organizational file, 1901-1977 and undated; (3) Smithsonian Institution and United States National Museum files, 1924-1976 and undated; (4) biographical and personal files, 1897-1979 and undated, with related materials from 1848; (5) expense accounts, 1929-1974; (6) permits, 1902-1977 and undated; (7) field notes, catalogs, laboratory notes, and related records, 1894-1936 and undated; (8) field work and official travel files, 1910-1974; (9) Panama field work files, 1944-1966; (10) Birds of the Republic of Panama manuscripts, proofs, correspondence, and related materials, 1968-1969 and undated; (11) drawings of fossil birds, 1918-1956; (12) desk diaries and appointment books, 1917-1956; (13) photographic materials, 1901-1974 and undated, with related materials from 1868; (14) National Academy of Sciences, Daniel Giraud Elliot Award Fund Committee, Chairman's files, 1929-1963; (15) research files, circa 1911-1972 and undated; (16) diplomas, certificates, and awards, 1901-1970 and undated, with related materials from 1876; (17) typescript copies of John Xantus correspondence, circa 1930s
These papers provide comprehensive documentation of all aspects of Wetmore's professional career, with particular emphasis on his ornithological and paleornithological research, field work and expeditions, and his activities in professional organizations. They also illustrate, to a lesser degree, his personal affairs. Wetmore was a prolific correspondent and a large part of his papers consists of letters written and received between 1901 and 1977. The correspondence reflects all phases of Wetmore's work, particularly his research, the progress of his career in the federal government, and his relations with the scientific community.
An organizational file contains records relating to Wetmore's activities as an officer and member of scientific societies, professional organizations, conservation groups, inter-governmental committees, colleges and universities, and social groups, including the American Committee for International Wild Life Protection; the American Ornithologists' Union; the American Philosophical Society; the Eighth American Scientific Congress, 1940; the Inter-American Committee of Experts on Nature Protection and Wild Life Preservation; the International Ornithological Congresses; the National Association of Audubon Societies; the Gorgas Memorial Institute of Tropical and Preventive Medicine; the George Washington University; the National Geographic Society; the Washington Biologists' Field Club; the Explorers Club; and the Cosmos Club. Other materials dealing with his professional activities include files on meetings and conferences attended and records from his service on the Committee on the Daniel Giraud Elliot Award Fund of the National Academy of Sciences.
Wetmore's career as a field worker and scientific expedition member before and during his service in the federal government is thoroughly illustrated. Included are field notes, diaries, specimen catalogs, correspondence, collecting permits, expense accounts, photographs, motion pictures, and related materials documenting field trips to Puerto Rico, the Hawaiian and other Pacific islands, Alaska and the Aleutian Islands, Central and South America (especially Panama) and all regions of the United States.
The papers also include files documenting his work as head of the USNM and Smithsonian; biographical, genealogical, and personal information on Wetmore and his family; manuscripts, lists, notes, and drawings from his research on recent and fossil birds; desk diaries and appointment books documenting his daily activities; extensive photographs, photograph albums, lantern slides, and 35mm color slides including images of Wetmore, family, friends, scientific colleagues, and events; manuscripts, correspondence, and related materials concerning his Birds of the Republic of Panama; diplomas and certificates received by Wetmore; and typescript copies of John Xantus letters compiled by Wetmore for the use of Harry Harris during his research on Xantus.
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Capital Gallery, Suite 3000, MRC 507; 600 Maryland Avenue, SW; Washington, DC 20024-2520