Skip to main content Smithsonian Institution

Catalog Data

Bentley, W. A (Wilson Alwyn) 1865-1931  Search this
Physical description:
Albumen prints; 3.5 x 3;
Black-and-white photographs
Circa 1890
SPI No. SPI_278
Bentley No. 349
Wilson A. Bentley first became fascinated with snow during his childhood on a Vermont farm, and he experimented for years with ways to view individual snowflakes in order to study their crystalline structure. He eventually attached a camera to his microscope, and in 1885 he successfully photographed the flakes. This photomicrograph and more than five thousand others supported the belief that no two snowflakes are alike, leading scientists to study his work and publish it in numerous scientific articles and magazines. In 1903 Bentley sent prints of his snowflakes to the Smithsonian, hoping they might be of interest to Secretary Samuel P. Langley.
Cite as:
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 31, Image No. SIA2013-09129
Repository Loc.:
Smithsonian Institution Archives Capital Gallery, Suite 3000, MRC 507; 600 Maryland Avenue, SW; Washington, DC 20024-2520
Photomicrography  Search this
Snowflakes  Search this
Local number:
SIA RU000031 [SIA2013-09129]
Restrictions & Rights:
No access restrictions. Many of SIA's holdings are located off-site, and advance notice is recommended to consult a collection. Please email the SIA Reference Team at
No Copyright - United States
Data Source:
Smithsonian Institution Archives