This is an agency history. It does not describe actual records. The Smithsonian Institution Archives uses these histories as brief accounts of the origin, development, and functions of an office or administrative unit to set that unit in its historical context. To find information on record holdings, please double-click the highlighted field "Creator/Author", which will open on a brief view of relevant records.
Smithsonian Institution Office of Equal Employment and Minority Affairs, "Let's do business with the Smithsonian," 07/05/00 http://web1.si.edu/oeema/LETSDOBZ_web.html
Email from Pam Henson to Mitch Toda, 03/10/2021
PRISM, Office of Human Resources, About Us, https://sinet.sharepoint.com/sites/PRISM2/ohr/Pages/hrteam.aspx, accessed 7/22/2021.
In the 19th century, all personnel actions were carried out in the Office of the Secretary. The staff was small and until late in the century, all Smithsonian Institution (SI) staff were simply Smithsonian employees.
With the approval of Secretary Samuel P. Langley, the President of the United States, Grover Cleveland, directed the application of the Civil Service rules from July 1, 1896, to all persons in the bureaus under the Smithsonian Institution whose salaries are paid out of government appropriations. This applied primarily to employees of the United States National Museum but expanded over time. While civil service rules were touted as more fair and less politicized, they did present major obstacles to many job applicants particularly women and people of color. Supervisors could now designate both the race and gender of the employee desired, slamming shut many doors already closed to African Americans and women.
In 1907, messenger Harry W. Dorsey was promoted to Administrative Assistant to Secretary Charles D. Walcott, eventually becoming Chief Clerk until his retirement in 1948. He oversaw personnel matters, among his many duties. He delegated the personnel paperwork to James Geddy Traylor, appointment clerk, who carried out that work until his death in 1933.
In 1933, Helen A. Olmsted was appointed Personnel Officer and continued in that role until 1943. She was replaced by Bertha T. Carwithen in 1944 until 1949. In 1950, Jack B. Newman was hired as Personnel Officer, and in 1952 his title became Chief, Personnel Division, reflecting the growth in the SI staff post-World War II. He left in 1958 and in 1959 Ann S. Campbell was named Chief, Personnel Division, Acting. From 1960 to 1961, L. C. Westfall was Director of Personnel. He was succeeded by Joseph A. Kennedy as Director of Personnel from 1961 to 1967. Kennedy later became Director of Equal Opportunity Support and Activities.
After the arrival of Secretary S. Dillon Ripley in 1964 the Institution grew very rapidly, and Ripley reorganized many functions. In the 1970 SI Organization Chart, personnel was grouped with "Support Activities" and moved outside of the Secretary's Office. In 1968, the office is renamed the Office of Personnel and Management Resources (OPMR) with Leonard B. Pouliot as Director. He was succeeded by his Assistant Director Vincent J. Doyle in 1970 until 1974 with another new name, Office of Personnel Administration (OPERSA). In the 1974 Organization Chart, the chain of command is Secretary/Undersecretary/Director of Support Activities/OPERSA. It has stayed within the orbit of the Undersecretary/Deputy Secretary in the years since. In 1975, Howard Toy was appointed Director and continued until 1989.
The Office of Human Resources (OHR) was formed in 1990 when Marilyn S. Marton was hired as Director of Human Resources on October 1, 1990. She served as Director, 1990-1994. Following her departure, Susan G. Roehmer served as Acting Director and later Director, 1994-1996. Carolyn E. Jones served as Director, 1996-2003. James D. Douglas, formerly with the Office of General Counsel, was named OHR Director in 2004 and served until 2017. In 2017, Brenda Richardson Malone was named OHR Director until her retirement in December of 2019. Antonio Guzmán joined the Smithsonian as Director in March of 2021.
The Office of Human Resources leads and supports the Smithsonian's museums, research facilities, and adminstrative offices in the hiring, development, and retention of its workforce. OHR works towards developing sound policies and procedures that balance the needs of the Smithsonian and employees while ensuring compliance with applicable laws and regulations. OHR provides services to employees in recruitment advisory and resources, workforce planning, employee compensation and benefits, labor and employee relations, trainging and development, policy and performance, and employee assistance.
For a history of the larger creating unit, refer to "Forms part of " above.
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Capital Gallery, Suite 3000, MRC 507; 600 Maryland Avenue, SW; Washington, DC 20024-2520