Smithsonian Institution. Office of the Secretary Search this
14.15 cu. ft. (1 record storage box) (26 document boxes) (1 oversize folder)
Barro Colorado Island (Panama)
Because the Smithsonian's relations to STRI have been both longstanding and various, STRI files are scattered through the records of the Secretary's office. The earliest
STRI files in this unit have been interfiled with newer records or pulled forward, where they dealt with ongoing problems at the facility, so that no original order remains.
The unit also includes office files of Thomas Barbour, long IRTA's strongest supporter, which were given to the Smithsonian on Barbour's death in 1946, likewise interfiled,
and dating from IRTA's earliest days. Thus, the researcher will find three general types of records in this unit: (1) the official records of IRTA and CZBA before 1946, some
of which were created by the Smithsonian in its role as a sponsor of the organization and some because they were interfiled at a later date; (2) office files of Thomas Barbour,
which often duplicate or complement other records; and (3) official records generated by the Smithsonian in its operation of CZBA/STRI since 1946.
These records document the creation and development of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, chiefly from 1923 to 1965, and cover all phases of its operations as
a private and a federal facility during that period. Correspondents include Thomas Barbour, John Enos Graf, Frank A. Taylor, Alexander Wetmore, James Zetek, and others. Records
include correspondence, administrative records, and publications. Researchers should also consult record unit 134 for related material, 1918-1960.
From 1918 to 1923 various groups interested in tropical American research discussed the desirability of creating a research institute in Central or South America. Finally,
in 1923, the Institute for Research in Tropical America was formed by a number of private foundations and universities, under the aegis of the National Research Council. The
Smithsonian Institution was one of these early sponsors, and its ties with the Institute grew stronger still when the federal government took over the IRTA in 1940, calling
it the Canal Zone Biological Area and placing the Smithsonian's Secretary on its governing board. In 1946 entire control of CZBA was vested in the Smithsonian, which renamed
it the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in 1966.