National Museum of Natural History (U.S.). Department of Anthropology Search this
Smithsonian Institution. Department of Anthropology Search this
Smithsonian Institution. United States National Museum. Department of Anthropology Search this
330.25 Linear feet (519 boxes)
330.25 Linear feet (519 boxes)
Some materials are held off-site; this will be indicated at the series or sub-series level. Advanced notice must be given to view these portions of the collection.
The Department of Anthropology records contain administrative and research materials produced by the department and its members from the time of the Smithsonian Institution's foundation until today.
Scope and Contents:
The Department of Anthropology records contain correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, memoranda, invoices, meeting minutes, fiscal records, annual reports, grant applications, personnel records, receipts, and forms. The topics covered in the materials include collections, exhibits, staff, conservation, acquisitions, loans, storage and office space, administration, operations, research, budgets, security, office procedures, and funding. The materials were created by members of the Section of Ethnology of the Smithsonian Institution, the Division of Anthropology of the United States National Museum, the Office of Anthropology of the National Museum of Natural History, and the Department of Anthropology of the National Museum of Natural History and range in date from before the founding of the Smithsonian Institution to today. The Department of Anthropology records also contain some materials related to the Bureau of American Ethnology, such as documents from the River Basin Surveys.
Please note that the contents of the collection and the language and terminology used reflect the context and culture of the time of its creation. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology and considered offensive today. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution or National Anthropological Archives, but is available in its original form to facilitate research.
This collection is arranged in 28 series: (1) Correspondence, 1902-1908, 1961-1992; (2) Alpha-Subject File, 1828-1963; (3) Alpha-Subject File, 1961-1975; (4) Smithsonian Office of Anthropology Subject Files, 1967-1968; (5) River Basin Survey Files, 1965-1969; (6) Research Statements, Proposals, and Awards, 1961-1977 (bulk 1966-1973); (7) Publication File, 1960-1975; (8) Memoranda and Lists Concerning Condemnations, 1910-1965; (9) Notebook on Special Exhibits, 1951-1952 (10) Section on Animal Industry; (11) Administrative Records, 1891-1974; (12) Administrative Records, 1965-1994 (bulk 1975-1988); (13) Fiscal Records, 1904-1986; (14) Annual Reports, 1920-1983; (15) Chairman's Office Files, 1987-1993; (16) Division of Archaeology, 1828-1965; (17) Division of Ethnology, 1840s, 1860-1972, 1997; (18) Division of Physical Anthropology; (19) Division of Cultural Anthropology, 1920-1968; (20) Records of the Anthropological Laboratory/Anthropology Conservation and Restoration Laboratory, 1939-1973; (21) Collections Management, 1965-1985; (22) Photographs of Specimens and Other Subjects (Processing Laboratory Photographs), 1880s-1950s; (23) Exhibit Labels, Specimen Labels, Catalog Cards, and Miscellaneous Documents, circa 1870-1950; (24) Antiquities Act Permits, 1904-1986; (25) Ancient Technology Program, circa 1966-1981; (26) Urgent Anthropology; (27) Records of the Handbook of North American Indians; (28) Personnel; (29) Repatriation Office, 1991-1994
The Smithsonian Institution was founded in 1846. Although there was no department of anthropology until the creation of the Section of Ethnology in 1879, anthropological materials were part of the Smithsonian's collection from its foundation. The Section of Ethnology was created to care for the rapidly growing collection. In 1881, the United States National Museum was established. Soon thereafter, in 1883, it was broken up into divisions, including the Division of Anthropology. In 1904, Physical Anthropology was added to the Division.
The Bureau of American Ethnology (BAE) was created in 1879 as a research unit of the Smithsonian, separating research from collections care. However, during the 1950s, research became a higher priority for the Department of Anthropology and, in 1965, the BAE was merged with the Department of Anthropology to create the Office of Anthropology, and the BAE's archives became the National Anthropological Archives (NAA).
In 1967, the United States National Museum was broken up into three separate museums: the Musuem of History and Technology (now the National Museum of American History), the National Museum of American Art, and the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH). The Office of Anthropology was included in NMNH and was renamed the Department of Anthropology in 1968.
New divisions were added to the Department, including the Human Studies Film Archives (HSFA) in 1981, the Research Institute on Immigration and Ethnic Studies (RIIES) in 1982, and the Repatriation Office in 1993. In 1983, the Smithsonian opened the Museum Support Center (MSC) in Suitland, Maryland, as offsite housing for collections with specialized storage facilities and conservation labs.
The Department of Anthropology is currently the largest department within NMNH. It has three curatorial divisions (Ethnology, Archaeology, and Biological Anthropology) and its staff includes curators, research assistants, program staff, collections specialists, archivists, repatriation tribal liaisons, and administrative specialists. It has a number of outreach and research arms, including the Repatriation Office, Recovering Voices, Human Origins, and the Arctic Studies Center.
The Museum is home to one of the world's largest anthropology collections, with over three million specimens in archaeology, ethnology, and human skeletal biology. The NAA is the Smithsonian's oldest archival repository, with materials that reflect over 150 years of anthropological collecting and fieldwork. The HSFA is the only North American archive devoted exclusively to the collection and preservation of anthropological film and video.
National Museum of Natural History. "Department of Anthropology: About" Accessed April 13, 2020. https://naturalhistory.si.edu/research/anthropology/about
National Museum of Natural History. "History of Anthropology at the Smithsonian." Accessed April 13, 2020. https://naturalhistory.si.edu/sites/default/files/media/file/history-anthropology-si.pdf
National Museum of Natural History. "History of the Smithsonian Catalog." Accessed April 13, 2020 https://siris-sihistory.si.edu/ipac20/ipac.jsp?profile=sicall
1846 -- The Smithsonian Institution is founded
1879 -- George Catlin bequeaths his collection to the Smithsonian The Section of Ethnology is established to oversee ethnological and archaeological collections The Bureau of Ethnology is established by Congress as a research unit of the Smithsonian
1881 -- The U.S. National Museum (USNM) is established as a separate entity within the Smithsonian Institution
1883 -- The staff and collections of the USNM are reorganized into divisions, including a Division of Anthropology
1897 -- The United States National Museum is reorganized into three departments: Anthropology headed by W. H. Holmes; Biology with F. W. True as head; and Geology with G. P. Merrill in charge The Bureau of Ethnology is renamed the Bureau of American Ethnology (BAE) to emphasize the geographic limit of its interests
1903 -- The Division of Physical Anthropology established
1904 -- The Division of Physical Anthropology is incorporated into the Division of Anthropology
1910 -- The USNM moves into the new Natural History Building
1965 -- The Smithsonian Office of Anthropology is created on February 1 The BAE is eliminated and merged with the Office of Anthropology
1968 -- The Smithsonian Office of Anthropology (SOA) of the National Museum of Natural History is retitled the Department of Anthropology on October 29
1973 -- The Research Institute on Immigration and Ethnic Studies (RIIES) is established at the National Museum of Natural History's (NMNH) Center for the Study of Man (CSM) to study the waves of immigration to the United States and its overseas outposts that began in the 1960's
1975 -- The National Anthropological Film Center is established
1981 -- The National Anthropological Film Center is incorporated into the Department of Anthropology
1982 -- The RIIES, part of the CSM at the NMNH, is transferred to the Department of Anthropology
1991 -- NMNH establishes a Repatriation Office
1993 -- The Repatriation Office is incorporated into the Department of Anthropology
Head Curators and Department Chairs
1897-1902 -- William Henry Holmes
1902-1903 -- Otis T. Mason (acting)
1904-1908 -- Otis T. Mason
1908-1909 -- Walter Hough (acting)
1910-1920 -- William Henry Holmes
1920-1923 -- Walter Hough (acting)
1923-1935 -- Walter Hough
1935-1960 -- Frank M. Setzler
1960-1962 -- T. Dale Stewart
1963-1965 -- Waldo R. Wedel
1965-1967 -- Richard Woodbury
1967-1970 -- Saul H. Riesenberg
1970-1975 -- Clifford Evans
1975-1980 -- William W. Fitzhugh
1980-1985 -- Douglas H. Ubelaker
1985-1988 -- Adrienne L. Kaeppler
1988-1992 -- Donald J. Ortner
1992-1999 -- Dennis Stanford
1999-2002 -- Carolyn L. Rose
2002-2005 -- William W. Fitzhugh
2005-2010 -- J. Daniel Rogers
2010-2014 -- Mary Jo Arnoldi
2014-2018 -- Torbin Rick
2018- -- Igor Krupnik
The NAA holds collections of former head curators and department chairs, including the papers of Otis Tufton Mason, Walter Hough, T. Dale Stewart, Waldo Rudolph and Mildred Mott Wedel, Saul H. Riesenberg, Clifford Evans, and Donald J. Ortner; the photographs of Frank Maryl Setzler; and the Richard B. Woodbury collection of drawings of human and animal figures.
Other related collections at the NAA include the papers of Gordon D. Gibson, Eugene I. Knez, and Betty J. Meggers and Clifford Evans; and the records of the Bureau of American Ethnology, the Center for the Study of Man, and the River Basin Surveys.
This collection was transferred to the National Anthropological Archives (NAA) by the National Museum of Natural History's Department of Anthropology in multiple accessions.
Some materials are restricted.
Access to the Department of Anthropology records requires an appointment.