The records of the National Zoological Park, Office of Public Affairs were for the most part created and maintained by Sybil E. Hamlet, Public Information Officer at
NZP for over twenty years. Also included are some general correspondence and memoranda created by Hamlet's predecessor, Marion McCrane.
As Public Information Officer, Hamlet was responsible for gathering and disseminating information about NZP's events, collections, and programs to the media and the general
public. She garnered a great deal of information about animal births, deaths, breeding, and acquisitions from the daily and weekly animal reports written by the keepers, which
are included in these records as series 1. Other data that Hamlet collected about animals at NZP and other zoos, including clippings, photographs, and manuscripts, can be
found in the animal information files. This series (4) is an especially rich source of information on the arrival of and the public reaction to the two giant pandas, "Ling-Ling"
and "Hsing Hsing."
A large portion of Hamlet's job was answering requests for information about animals and zoos from both the public at large and from other members of the zoo profession.
Samples of incoming correspondence and the replies of Hamlet, her predecessor Marion McCrane, and other staff in the Public Affairs Office, can be found in series 5 and 6.
Series 5 contains requests for information solely about animals, while series 6 is concerned with requests for photographs, guidebooks, maps, and more general information
about NZP and zoo careers.
The general subject files (series 3) document the research and activities of the Office of Public Affairs not directly related to the animal collections at NZP. Other aspects
of Hamlet's work as Public Information Officer can be seen in the memoranda and correspondence in this series concerning the planning and execution of special events at the
zoo. Writing signs and labels for the zoo was another duty of the Office of Public Affairs until the Office of Graphics and Exhibits was created in 1974; series 2 contains
drafts of text for those signs, including maps showing the geographic range of the animals described.
The more administrative side of the Office of Public Affairs is documented in series 7, which contains internal memoranda concerning such things as chain of command during
leaves of absence, personnel issues, and commendations for exceptional performance by Public Affairs staff and other NZP staff assisting with Public Affairs activities.
In 1978, Sybil Hamlet was delegated a two-year assignment of researching and writing the history of the National Zoological Park. Series 8 contains all the notes, articles,
correspondence, manuscripts, and clippings she used in order to create her manuscript, "The National Zoological Park from Its Beginnings to 1973." Three drafts of the manuscript
are included, along with an index to one of the drafts. The manuscript was never published.
Another fine source for information about past events and animals at NZP is the large number of scrapbooks that make up series 12. Clippings about NZP people, animals,
collection expeditions, and events were saved from 1924 to 1978, along with original photographs (black and white and color) in some albums. Twelve of these scrapbooks are
devoted to the giant pandas, and four solely to obituaries for "Smokey Bear." A small collection of glass lantern slides and photographs can be found in series 9. The lantern
slides were probably taken in the London Zoological Gardens at the turn of the century, and the photographs (both black and white and color) are images of NZP and its animals.
Original artwork, primarily of "Smokey Bear" and of the giant pandas, make up series 10; series 11 contains architectural drawings and maps of NZP grounds and buildings.
The Office of Public Affairs did not exist as an administrative entity at the National Zoological Park (NZP) until 1978. Prior to the early 1960s, dissemination of
information about NZP programs, activities, and animals to the public and the media was carried out by the staff of the Office of the Director. In 1962, zoologist Marion McCrane
was hired to head the Information and Education Division at NZP. In addition to handling public affairs, the division also created signs and labels for NZP exhibits. When
McCrane resigned in December 1968, Sybil E. Hamlet was named acting head and later head of the office.
In 1972, Information and Education was reorganized and became the Division of Interpretation, with Saul W. Schiffman as chief of the division. The new division's duties
were expanded to include exhibit production. In 1974, information and education work was again separated from exhibits production by the creation of the Office of Education
and Information and the Office of Graphics and Exhibits. Judith White was named chief of the Office of Education and Information in 1975. This office was renamed the Office
of Education in 1978, when information duties were transferred to the newly established Office of Public Affairs.
The Office of Public Affairs was headed by Patricia Hurley in 1978, and Robert J. Hoage became chief of the office in 1979. With the assistance of Sybil Hamlet and Michael
Morgan, the Office of Public Affairs continued to provide general information about NZP programs and activities to the public and the media, as well as organizing and coordinating
special events at NZP.
These records are the official minutes of the Board. They are compiled at the direction of the Secretary of the Smithsonian, who is also secretary to the Board, after
approval by the Regents' Executive Committee and by the Regents themselves. The minutes are edited, not a verbatim account of proceedings. For reasons unknown, there are no
manuscript minutes for the period from 1857 through 1890; and researchers must rely on printed minutes published in the Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution instead.
Minutes are transferred regularly from the Secretary's Office to the Archives. Minutes less than 15 years old are closed to researchers. Indexes exist for the period from
1907 to 1946 and can be useful.
The Smithsonian Institution was created by authority of an Act of Congress approved August 10, 1846. The Act entrusted direction of the Smithsonian to a body called
the Establishment, composed of the President; the Vice President; the Chief Justice of the United States; the secretaries of State, War, Navy, Interior, and Agriculture; the
Attorney General; and the Postmaster General. In fact, however, the Establishment last met in 1877, and control of the Smithsonian has always been exercised by its Board of
Regents. The membership of the Regents consists of the Vice President and the Chief Justice of the United States; three members each of the Senate and House of Representatives;
two citizens of the District of Columbia; and seven citizens of the several states, no two from the same state. (Prior to 1970 the category of Citizen Regents not residents
of Washington consisted of four members). By custom the Chief Justice is Chancellor. The office was at first held by the Vice President. However, when Millard Fillmore succeeded
to the presidency on the death of Zachary Taylor in 1851, Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney was chosen in his stead. The office has always been filled by the Chief Justice
since that time.
The Regents of the Smithsonian have included distinguished Americans from many walks of life. Ex officio members (Vice President) have been: Spiro T. Agnew, Chester A.
Arthur, Allen W. Barkley, John C. Breckenridge, George Bush, Schuyler Colfax, Calvin Coolidge, Charles Curtis, George M. Dallas, Charles G. Dawes, Charles W. Fairbanks, Millard
Fillmore, Gerald R. Ford, John N. Garner, Hannibal Hamlin, Thomas A. Hendricks, Garret A. Hobart, Hubert H. Humphrey, Andrew Johnson, Lyndon B. Johnson, William R. King, Thomas
R. Marshall, Walter F. Mondale, Levi P. Morton, Richard M. Nixon, Nelson A. Rockefeller, Theodore Roosevelt, James S. Sherman, Adlai E. Stevenson, Harry S. Truman, Henry A.
Wallace, William A. Wheeler, Henry Wilson.
Ex officio members (Chief Justice) have been: Roger B. Taney, Salmon P. Chase, Nathan Clifford, Morrison R. Waite, Samuel F. Miller, Melville W. Fuller, Edward D. White,
William Howard Taft, Charles Evans Hughes, Harlan F. Stone, Fred M. Vinson, Earl Warren, Warren E. Burger.
Regents on the part of the Senate have been: Clinton P. Anderson, Newton Booth, Sidney Breese, Lewis Cass, Robert Milledge Charlton, Bennet Champ Clark, Francis M. Cockrell,
Shelby Moore Cullom, Garrett Davis, Jefferson Davis, George Franklin Edmunds, George Evans, Edwin J. Garn, Walter F. George, Barry Goldwater, George Gray, Hannibal Hamlin,
Nathaniel Peter Hill, George Frisbie Hoar, Henry French Hollis, Henry M. Jackson, William Lindsay, Henry Cabot Lodge, Medill McCormick, James Murray Mason, Samuel Bell Maxey,
Robert B. Morgan, Frank E. Moss, Claiborne Pell, George Wharton Pepper, David A. Reed, Leverett Saltonstall, Hugh Scott, Alexander H. Smith, Robert A. Taft, Lyman Trumbull,
Wallace H. White, Jr., Robert Enoch Withers.
Regents on the part of the House of Representatives have included: Edward P. Boland, Frank T. Bow, William Campbell Breckenridge, Overton Brooks, Benjamin Butterworth,
Clarence Cannon, Lucius Cartrell, Hiester Clymer, William Colcock, William P. Cole, Jr., Maurice Connolly, Silvio O. Conte, Edward E. Cox, Edward H. Crump, John Dalzell, Nathaniel
Deering, Hugh A. Dinsmore, William English, John Farnsworth, Scott Ferris, Graham Fitch, James Garfield, Charles L. Gifford, T. Alan Goldsborough, Frank L. Greene, Gerry Hazleton,
Benjamin Hill, Henry Hilliard, Ebenezer Hoar, William Hough, William M. Howard, Albert Johnson, Leroy Johnson, Joseph Johnston, Michael Kirwan, James T. Lloyd, Robert Luce,
Robert McClelland, Samuel K. McConnell, Jr., George H. Mahon, George McCrary, Edward McPherson, James R. Mann, George Perkins Marsh, Norman Y. Mineta, A. J. Monteague, R.
Walton Moore, Walter H. Newton, Robert Dale Owen, James Patterson, William Phelps, Luke Poland, John Van Schaick Lansing Pruyn, B. Carroll Reece, Ernest W. Roberts, Otho Robards
Singleton, Frank Thompson, Jr., John M. Vorys, Hiram Warner, Joseph Wheeler.
Citizen Regents have been: David C. Acheson, Louis Agassiz, James B. Angell, Anne L. Armstrong, William Backhouse Astor, J. Paul Austin, Alexander Dallas Bache, George
Edmund Badger, George Bancroft, Alexander Graham Bell, James Gabriel Berrett, John McPherson Berrien, Robert W. Bingham, Sayles Jenks Bowen, William G. Bowen, Robert S. Brookings,
John Nicholas Brown, William A. M. Burden, Vannevar Bush, Charles F. Choate, Jr., Rufus Choate, Arthur H. Compton, Henry David Cooke, Henry Coppee, Samuel Sullivan Cox, Edward
H. Crump, James Dwight Dana, Harvey N. Davis, William Lewis Dayton, Everette Lee Degolyer, Richard Delafield, Frederic A. Delano, Charles Devens, Matthew Gault Emery, Cornelius
Conway Felton, Robert V. Fleming, Murray Gell-Mann, Robert F. Goheen, Asa Gray, George Gray, Crawford Hallock Greenwalt, Nancy Hanks, Caryl Parker Haskins, Gideon Hawley,
John B. Henderson, John B. Henderson, Jr., A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., Gardner Greene Hubbard, Charles Evans Hughes, Carlisle H. Humelsine, Jerome C. Hunsaker, William Preston
Johnston, Irwin B. Laughlin, Walter Lenox, Augustus P. Loring, John Maclean, William Beans Magruder, John Walker Maury, Montgomery Cunningham Meigs, John C. Merriam, R. Walton
Moore, Roland S. Morris, Dwight W. Morrow, Richard Olney, Peter Parker, Noah Porter, William Campbell Preston, Owen Josephus Roberts, Richard Rush, William Winston Seaton,
Alexander Roby Shepherd, William Tecumseh Sherman, Otho Robards Singleton, Joseph Gilbert Totten, John Thomas Towers, Frederic C. Walcott, Richard Wallach, Thomas J. Watson,
Jr., James E. Webb, James Clarke Welling, Andrew Dickson White, Henry White, Theodore Dwight Woolsey.