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.
26 audiotapes (reference copies). 52 digital .mp3 files (reference copies).
The Smithsonian Institution Archives began its Oral History Program in 1973. The purpose of the program is to supplement the written documentation of the Archives'
record and manuscript collections with an Oral History Collection, focusing on the history of the Institution, research by its scholars, and contributions of its staff. Program
staff conduct interviews with current and retired Smithsonian staff and others who have made significant contributions to the Institution. There are also interviews conducted
by researchers or students on topics related to the history of the Smithsonian or the holdings of the Smithsonian Institution Archives.
Perrygo was interviewed for the Oral History Collection because of his long association with the USNM, spanning some forty years, and his extensive knowledge of the history
of the Institution
Perrygo was interviewed on 8 & 16 August, 8 & 25 September, 30 October, 13 & 16 November, and 4 & 11 December 1978 by Pamela M. Henson. The interviews
cover his youth and education; early associations and impressions of the museum; career at the USNM, notably his work as a taxidermist and exhibits specialist, as well as
his collecting expeditions; reminiscences of colleagues and friends, such as Alexander Wetmore and A. Remington Kellogg; taxidermy technique; his work in historic preservation;
and his tenure as Director of Exhibits for the Botanical Garden Museum.
Related collections in the Archives include RU 7306, The Watson M. Perrygo Papers; RU 7006, The Alexander Wetmore Papers, which contains photograph albums from their Panama
trips; and RU 7215 and 7217, Collected Notes, Lists, Drawings and Catalogs on Birds and Mammals, respectively, which contain Perrygo's field notebooks.
Watson Mondell Perrygo (1906-1984) was a naturalist who worked for the United States National Museum (USNM) from 1925-1965 as a taxidermist, field collector, and exhibits
specialist. He was born in Washington, D.C., on 18 October 1906 and grew up in Prince Georges County, Maryland. In his youth, he developed an interest in natural history,
spending much of his time at the USNM. While in high school, he began going on ornithological field trips with USNM Director, Alexander Wetmore; thus began a professional
friendship which lasted throughout their careers.
Perrygo's entire career was spent at the USNM as a scientific aide and then taxidermist. His extensive field work included systematic surveys of the southeast United States
and of Panama. He was first employed part-time by the USNM in 1925 to prepare specimens for the Philadelphia sesquicentennial. In 1927 he became a permanent employee, working
part-time in the Taxidermy Studio. In 1928-1929 he was sent on his first field trip to Haiti, with Arthur J. Poole. The following year, he returned to Haiti as the Smithsonian
Representative on the Parish-Smithsonian Expedition. During the 1930s he conducted a systematic program of field collecting in the southeast United States, traveling to West
Virginia in 1936; Tennessee in 1937; Kentucky in 1938; North Carolina in 1939; and South Carolina in 1940. On his North Carolina trip he met a schoolteacher, Velva Howard,
whom he married.
Perrygo accompanied A. Remington Kellogg to Rampart Cave, Arizona, in 1942 to excavate remains of extinct sloth. From 1946 to 1953, Perrygo and Wetmore collected in a different
section of Panama each year in preparation for Wetmore's multi-volume The Birds of Panama. In 1946 they traveled through Darien; in 1947 up the Jaque River in Darien;
in 1948 through Herrera province; in 1949 through the Province of Panama; in 1950 to Chiman and up the Maje River; in 1951 to Cerro Campana; in 1952 up the Rio Indio; and
in 1953 through Sona.
As a taxidermist, Perrygo worked on many of the famous zoological specimens in the National Museum, such as "Martha," the last passenger pigeon, and the Fenykovi elephant.
During the USNM Exhibits Modernization Program of the 1950s, Perrygo was very active in renovating the zoological exhibit halls. In 1960 he was placed in charge of the Taxidermy
Studio until his retirement in 1965.
Perrygo restored a Charles County, Maryland, colonial estate in the fifties consisting "Ellerslie," the main house, adjacent barn (c. 1667) and outbuildings. After retirement,
he served on the Board of Maryland Historic Trust and as President of the Charles County Historical Society. Perrygo directed the restoration of numerous structures, such
as the Friendship House, Mudd House, and Cat-Slide House, reflecting his long-standing interests in history and historic preservation. He also was Director of Exhibits for
the Botanical Garden Museum in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, from 1977 to the 1980s.
6.16 cu. ft. (3 record storage boxes) (3 document boxes) (1 half document box) (1 16x20 box) (2 5x8 boxes)
Motion pictures (visual works)
Skyline Drive (Va.)
These papers consist of correspondence from Alexander Wetmore, field co-workers, and museum curators concerning authorization for field trips, instructions on natural
history specimens desired and areas to visit, and acknowledgments of specimens and camping equipment; correspondence from state game and fisheries agencies concerning hunting
licenses and permits; letters of introduction; and a letter from Mamie Doud Eisenhower thanking Perrygo for restoration work on her Chippendale mirror, 1955. Other materials
include field trip reports, 1936-1940; expense accounts; specimen lists; black and white photographs taken during Perrygo's field trips, 1929-1942; and color motion pictures
of the Panama trips, 1950-1953, Skyline Drive, Virginia, and the USNM taxidermy studio.
Materials collected by Perrygo include instructions on taxidermy techniques and newspaper articles about Perrygo, William L. Brown, and taxidermy in general. Also included
are photographs of USNM taxidermists, c. 1930s to 1973; mounted animal specimens and zoological exhibits; floor plan of the African and North American mammal halls, MNH; selected
art work at the National Gallery of Art and exhibits in the USNM collected by William Henry Holmes for a postcard series, c. 1918; the yacht, "Esperanza," signed by the Parishes,
1938; the taxidermy studio at the Natural History Building, 1950s; and Alexander Wetmore, Lawrence L. Oliver, and Perrygo at Skyline Drive, Virginia, 1955. Also, there are
materials that may have belonged to the Taxidermist and the Department of Living Animals, USNM, during the 1880s, including labels for the natural history exhibits; taxidermists'
addresses; and photographs of incomplete taxidermy models and mammals used as taxidermy models.
Additional materials documenting Perrygo's field trips include journals and field notebooks kept by Perrygo, 1936 to 1940, and by Wetmore during trips to Panama, 1946 to
1953, which are part of the Collected Notes, Lists, Drawings and Catalogs on Birds, and Mammals, record unit 7215 and record unit 7217, respectively. In 1978, taped interviews
with Perrygo were made as part of the Archives' Oral History Project (record unit 9516).
Watson M. Perrygo (1906-1984), field collector, taxidermist, and exhibits specialist for the United States National Museum (USNM), was born in Washington, D.C. As a
young man, Perrygo was a frequent visitor to the USNM. He became a protege of the ornithologist, Alexander Wetmore, then Director of the Museum, with whom he went on weekend
field trips in Maryland and Virginia.
Perrygo began his career at the USNM in 1927 as a scientific aide in the Division of Mammals and the taxidermy studio. In addition to the taxidermic and other collection-related
work, Perrygo was sent on field trips to collect birds, mammals, and snakes unrepresented in the USNM. His collecting activities included trips to Haiti, 1929; again to Haiti
in 1930 as a member of the Parish-Smithsonian Expedition; to West Virginia, 1936; to Tennessee, 1937; to Kentucky, 1938; to North Carolina, 1939; to South Carolina, 1940;
and to Rampart Cave, Arizona, 1942, as assistant to A. Remington Kellogg to excavate skeletal remains of several species of mammals, birds, lizards, and snakes. Between 1946
and 1953, Perrygo also accompanied Wetmore to Panama on several occasions to collect birds.
Perrygo served as exhibits preparator and zoological exhibits worker in the Department of Zoology, USNM, 1952-1958, and as zoological exhibits worker in the Office of Exhibits,
Museum of History and Technology (MHT), 1958-1960. He was in charge of taxidermy for MHT, 1960-1962, and for the Museum of Natural History (MNH), 1962-1964. Perrygo was an
important figure in the exhibits modernization program at the USNM during the 1940s and 1950s.
After his retirement in 1964, Perrygo was an active participant in historical preservation projects in Maryland as president of the Charles County Historical Society and
as a member of the Board of the Maryland Historical Trust. He also directed the museum exhibits program of the Botanical Garden Museum, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
From time to time, Perrygo also did consulting work on exhibits in the Smithsonian Institution.
October 18, 1906 -- Born, Washington, D. C.
1926 -- Helped USNM prepare natural history specimens for the Philadelphia Sesquicentennial
1926 -- Bird collecting in the vicinity of Ocean City, Maryland, with Alexander Wetmore and Frederick Charles Lincoln; learned how to collect and label birds
July-November, 1927 -- Worked part-time on the osteological specimens located in the attic of the Natural History Building
1927 -- Became permanent staff member of the USNM, as scientific aide, working half-time for the Division of Mammals and half-time for the taxidermy shop, and as field collector to collect birds and other natural history specimens for the USNM
December, 1928-April, 1929 -- Field collecting trip to Haiti with Arthur J. Poole
February-June, 1930 -- Field collecting trip to Haiti as a member of the Parish-Smithsonian Expedition. The expedition was sponsored by Lee Hamilton Parish and his parents, Samuel W. and Ella Parish. Perrygo sailed to Haiti with the Parishes on their yacht, the "Esperanza." The "Esperanza" made an unplanned stop in Cuba after a storm wrecked her mast. Perrygo collected bird specimens in Cuba while the yacht was being repaired. In Haiti, Perrygo continued to collect bird and other natural history specimens, mostly along the coastal region of Haiti, and collected live reptiles for the National Zoological Park.
1931 -- Went with USNM taxidermists Earl D. Reid and J. S. Warmbath to Bayhead, New Jersey to prepare a 1200 pound sailfish for exhibition
1932 -- Helped prepare natural history specimens for the George Washington Bicentennial
April-July, 1936 -- Field collecting trip to West Virginia to collect bird specimens with Carleton C. Lingebach
September-November, 1936 -- Field collecting trip to West Virginia with Carleton C. Lingebach
April-July, 1937 -- Field collecting trip to Tennessee with Herbert Friedmann (Alexander Wetmore joined them briefly in June)
September-November, 1937 -- Field collecting trip to Tennessee with Carleton C. Lingebach and Henry R. Schaefer
April-July, 1938 -- Field collecting trip to Kentucky with Henry R. Schaeffer and James Cole
September-November, 1938 -- Field collecting trip to Kentucky with Gregor Rohwer and Herbert G. Deignan
April-July, 1939 -- Field collecting trip to North Carolina with Charles Wheeler and Gregor Rohwer
September-November, 1939 -- Field collecting trip to North Carolina with Charles L. Wheeler (Alexander Wetmore and John Enos Graf joined them briefly in October)
April-July, 1940 -- Field collecting trip to South Carolina with J. Southgate Hoyt and John C. Calhoun
September-December, 1940 -- Field collecting trip to South Carolina with J. Southgate Hoyt and John S. Webb
March-May, 1942 -- Accompanied A. Remington Kellogg, Assistant Director of the USNM, to Rampart Cave, Arizona to excavate sloth fossils as well as skeletal remains of several species of mammals, birds, lizards, and snakes. Also visited the Denver Museum and Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History to study their exhibit methods.
1943-1964 -- Worked as a taxidermist full-time
1943-1964 -- USNM taxidermists were involved in the gradual modernization of the mammal, bird, osteology, and sealife exhibits in the Natural History Building
1946-1953 -- Accompanied Alexander Wetmore (Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, 1944-1952) on their annual field collecting trips to Panama to collect birds (usually between March and May)
1952-1958 -- Exhibit preparator and zoological exhibits worker in the Department of Zoology, USNM
October, 1957 -- Visited several plastic manufacturing companies in New York City and Philadelphia to learn to make accessories from plastic for the exhibits
November, 1957 -- Visited the University of Kansas Museum to study its exhibits methods
1958-1960 -- Zoological exhibits worker in the Office of Exhibits, Museum of History and Technology (MHT)
1960-1962 -- Was in charge of taxidermy for MHT
1962-1964 -- Was in charge of taxidermy for the Museum of Natural History (MNH)
1964 -- Retired from the MNH
1970-1978 -- President of the Charles County (Maryland) Historical Society
1970s-1983 -- Member of the Board of the Maryland Historical Trust
1977-1983 -- Directed the museum exhibits program of the Botanical Garden Museum, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
August 5, 1984 -- Died at home in Port Tobacco, Maryland