The James Smithson Collection lacks a great deal of his original papers. Richard Rush brought Smithson's personal effects to the United States in 1838, along with the
proceeds from his estate. A fire in the Smithsonian building in 1865 destroyed many of the manuscripts originally acquired by the Institution. Correspondence among individuals
seeking information on his life constitutes the majority of the collection, but some personal documents remain. These include some of his scientific papers and research notes,
correspondence with friends and fellow scholars, and a handwritten draft of his will, all found in Series 1. Photographic copies of images of Smithson, Henry James Hungerford,
documents, places, and people involved with some aspect of the Smithsonian are included as well. These appear in all of the six series.
Series 2 contains documents related to securing the Smithson bequest, establishing the Smithsonian Institution, and claims on the estate by would-be heirs. Series 3 consists
of research materials on Smithson's life and lineage. Congress debated the purpose for the Smithsonian Institution for over a decade. Debates, bills, amendments, and letters
show the questions and opinions surrounding what Smithson meant by "the increase and diffusion of knowledge . . ." Series 2-3 include correspondence, illustrations, charts,
books, and letters concerning Smithson's maternal and paternal genealogies which help piece together his family history. Controversy surrounded one particular branch of Smithson's
family, the de la Batuts, after the establishment of the Smithsonian Institution.
Series 4 includes information on the steps taken to move Smithson's remains to America. Newspaper clippings about the transfer of Smithson's remains and tomb to America
mark a final chapter in the collection. Photographs, letters, and telegrams follow the story from start to finish, and involve men like Samuel P. Langley, Alexander Graham
Bell, Richard Rathbun, William Henry Bishop, and Gilbert H. Grosvenor. Series 5 consists of photographs and liknesses of James Smithson, his relatives, and places and objects
related to him. It includes a plaster cast and steel plate engravings of Smithson.
William J. Rhees, Joseph Henry, Spencer F. Baird, Samuel P. Langley, S. Dillon Ripley, and others involved with the Smithsonian Institution fervently sought information
on Smithson's life for a variety of books, pamphlets, and articles. Circulars and letters from the 1870s and 1880s show the caliber of their search, but unfortunately very
few facts surfaced on the founder of the Institution. This correspondence is scattered throughout the collection, but the actual publications which emerged on Smithson and
the Smithsonian's beginnings are included in Series 6.
The birth of James Smithson, founder of the Smithsonian Institution, is thought to be during the year 1765. Born in France, he became a naturalized British citizen
around the age of ten. The illegitimate son of Elizabeth Hungerford Keate Macie and Hugh Smithson, 1st Duke of Northumberland, he changed his name as well as his citizenship.
After his parents' death, he became known as James Smithson rather than James Macie. On May 7, 1782, he enrolled in Pembroke College, Oxford, and graduated four years later.
The natural sciences sparked his interest, and he established a solid reputation as a chemist and mineralogist, despite the lack of quality information available on these
topics in the late 1700s. He realized this and worked diligently to collect mineral and ore samples from European countries. Excerpts from his notes show that his excursions
often forced him to brave the elements and do without the monetary comforts of his parents. Smithson, although a wealthy man, determined to make a name for himself among scientists
without depending upon his heritage. He kept accurate accounts of his experiments and collections and earned the respect of his peers. When the Royal Society of London recognized
his scientific abilities and accepted his membership on April 26, 1787, only a year after he graduated from college, he knew his quest and respect for knowledge would yield
even greater things. The Society became an outlet for publishing many of his papers, which covered a diverse range of scientific topics, as well as a meeting place for fellow
intellectuals like Cavendish, Lavoisier, Arago, Banks, and Fabroni.
James Smithson wrote his Last Will and Testament with the same exactness found in his research notes. He drafted it in 1826 in London, only three years before he died.
He died on June 27, 1829, in Genoa, Italy, where he was buried in a British Cemetery. The will entailed his estate to his nephew, Henry James Hungerford, and stated that if
his nephew died without an heir the money would go "to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment
for the increase and diffusion of knowledge . . ."
In 1835 when Henry James Hungerford died without an heir, his mother, Mary Ann de la Batut, claimed her right to the Smithson estate, due to her previous marriage to Colonel
Henry Louis Dickinson, half-brother of James Smithson and father of Henry James Hungerford. The British Courts allotted her an annual allowance until her death in 1861. Marie
de la Batut's children from her second marriage had no blood or legal relationship to James Smithson; however, they joined with their spouses and children and persisted over
the next few decades to claim various rights to the Smithson estate. George Henry, Emma Kirby, Marie, Charles, and Maurice all contacted the Smithsonian Institution with stories,
genealogies, and bargains attempting to convince the Smithsonian administration of their need for and right to the money.
Aaron Vail, charges d'affaires of the United States at London, informed the United States of its right to the Smithson bequest after Hungerford's death. President Andrew
Jackson brought the situation before Congress on December 17, 1835, and the government reacted with skepticism. The hesitancy lasted for ten years as Congress contemplated
Smithson's motivation for willing such a large sum to a country he never visited. Some considered the bequest "a cheap way of conferring immortality," while others were reluctant
to accept such a gift from a foreigner. (Rhees, 1880)
John Quincy Adams liked the idea of a Smithsonian Institution, however, and gathered congressional support for it during the spring of 1836. July 1, 1836, President Jackson
commissioned Richard Rush to represent the United State's claim to Smithson's bequest in England. Rush acquired the money, converted it to gold (over $500,000), and brought
it to America. Debates ensued and the U. S. Treasury invested the money in Arkansas State Bonds. This investment disturbed John Quincy Adams. Despite their low interest rate,
he realized the bonds were untouchable until 1860. Adams spent the last nine months of 1841 trying to access the money. Upon hearing Adams' complaint President John Tyler
took action and forced the Treasury to provide the original amount of the bequest plus the appropriate interest on the bonds. In 1846 a final bill passed for the establishment
of the Smithsonian Institution.
Another issue began to surface in 1891 when Samuel P. Langley invested in Italian rentes (bonds) for the care of Smithson's grave site in Genoa, Italy. On November 24,
1900, a member of the Committee of the British Burial Ground Association of Genoa informed Langley of a possible need to remove Smithson's remains from the cemetery due to
quarrying in the area. William Henry Bishop, U. S. Consul at Genoa, confirmed the impending destruction of the cemetery and offered his assistance along with cost estimates
for the transfer of Smithson's remains to the United States. Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, a Regent of the Smithsonian, agreed to accompany the remains from Italy to America
as long as the act coincided with Italian and British Law. Dr. Bell and his wife arrived with the remains in Hoboken, New Jersey, on the "Princess Irene" on January 19, 1904.
The U. S. S. "Dolphin" then carried the remains to Washington, D.C., where a ceremony in the Main Hall of the Smithsonian Institution Building saluted the founder. Smithson's
original tomb was transferred to America later that same year, and the Smithson Mortuary Chapel was constructed in the Smithsonian Institution Building.
1765 -- James Macie was born in France
1775 -- Naturalized British Citizen
1782 -- Enrolled in Pembroke College, Oxford
1786 -- Graduated from Pembroke College, Oxford
1787 -- Member Royal Society
1794 -- Dorothy Percy willed 3,000 pounds to James Macie (believed to be her half bother)
1808 -- Smithson was a prisoner of war in Hamburg and wrote to Sir Joseph Banks for help
1818 -- "A Few Facts Relative to the Colouring Matters of some Vegetables," Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London
1825 -- "A Method of Fixing Crayon Colors," Annals of Philosophy
1826 -- "On a Balance for Weighing Globules of Metals," The Technical Repository
1826 -- Original draft of Smithson's will
1829 -- Smithson's death in Genoa, Italy
1835 -- Death of Henry James Hungerford (Smithson's nephew)
1835 -- U. S. notified of Smithson's bequest
1835 -- Mary Ann de la Batut (Henry James Hungerford's mother) claimed her right to Smithson's estate
1836 -- Act of Congress accepted Smithson bequest
1838 -- British Chancery Court award Smithson Estate to the United States
1836-1842 -- Congressional debates over what to do with Smithson's bequest
1844 -- "A Memoir on the Scientific Character and Researches of James Smithson," by Walter R. Johnson
1844-1846 -- Congressional Bills and Amendments introduced establishing and defining divisions within the Smithsonian
1845 -- Samuel S. Cox's article for "Brothers" literary society addressed the issue of Smithson's bequest establishing a library or a university
1846 -- Act of Congress established Smithsonian Institution
1859 -- "An Account of the Smithsonian Institution," by William J. Rhees
1865 -- Fire at Smithsonian destroyed most of Smithson's papers
1877-1879 -- George Henry de la Batut claimed his right to the Smithson estate
1878 -- "On the Works and Character of James Smithson," by J. R. McD. Irby
1879 -- "The Scientific Writings of James Smithson," by William J. Rhees
1880 -- "James Smithson and His Bequest," by William J. Rhees
1881 -- "Visitor's Guide to the Smithsonian Institution," by William J. Rhees
1881 -- Emma Kirby de la Batut claimed her right to the Smithson estate
1891 -- Samuel P. Langley allotted money for the care of Smithson's tomb in Genoa, Italy
1892 -- Marie (Mary Ann) de la Batut claimed her right to the Smithson estate (wife of George Henry)
1893 -- Charles and Maurice de la Batut claimed their rights to the Smithson estate
1895 -- Langley placed bronze tablets on Smithson's tomb in Genoa, recognizing him as founder of the Smithsonian Institution
1901 -- "Life of Smithson," by Samuel P. Langley
1903 -- Gilbert H. Grosvenor published newspaper articles advocating the transfer of Smithson's remains to America, due to destruction of cemetery in Genoa
1904 -- Alexander Graham Bell accompanied Smithson's remains to U.S. on the "Princess Irene"
1904 -- "The Removal of the Remains of James Smithson," by Samuel P. Langley
1904 -- Smithson Tomb moved from Italy to U. S.
1905 -- Erection of Smithson Mortuary Chapel on SI grounds
5.11 Cubic feet (consisting of 11 boxes, 1 folder, 2 oversize folders, 1 map case folder, 1 flat box (partial.))
Manuscripts for publication
Steel plate engravings
Legislation (legal concepts)
A New York bookseller, Warshaw assembled this collection over nearly fifty years. The Warshaw Collection of Business Americana: Accounting and Bookkeeping forms part of the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Subseries 1.1: Subject Categories. The Subject Categories subseries is divided into 470 subject categories based on those created by Mr. Warshaw. These subject categories include topical subjects, types or forms of material, people, organizations, historical events, and other categories. An overview to the entire Warshaw collection is available here: Warshaw Collection of Business Americana
Scope and Contents:
The subject category Steel largely represents business records and advertisements created by steel manufacturers and distributors of steel-based goods or services. Additional materials include biographical writings about Andrew Carnegie, documentation about the effect of the steel industry on society, and educational material about the steel industry.
No complete set of business records are represented within the collection, however the United States Steel Corporation has notable representation within the business records.
Technical documentation about the production of steel-based products as well as background information about the United States Steel Industry and Andrew Carnegie are strong research strengths of this subject category.
Steel is arranged in three subseries.
Business Records and Marketing Material
Forms Part Of:
Forms part of the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana.
Series 1: Business Ephemera
Series 2: Other Collection Divisions
Series 3: Isadore Warshaw Personal Papers
Series 4: Photographic Reference Material
Steel is a portion of the Business Ephemera Series of the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Accession AC0060 purchased from Isadore Warshaw in 1967. Warshaw continued to accumulate similar material until his death, which was donated in 1971 by his widow, Augusta. For a period after acquisition, related materials from other sources (of mixed provenance) were added to the collection so there may be content produced or published after Warshaw's death in 1969. This practice has since ceased.
Collection is open for research. Some items may be restricted due to fragile condition.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Folder 3 Smithson quote, "Everyman's a valuable member of society who by his observations researches and experiments procures knowledge for men," undated; photographs of the Smithson Memorial Tablet, 1896; steel plate engravings of profile bust of Smit...
Box 8 of 11
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7000, James Smithson Collection
Collection consists ofapproximately 66,000, high quality engravings collected by Kubler from European and American books and periodicals dating almost exclusively from the 19th century.Portraits and city views document the social history and material culture of the period. Specific topics covered include archery, boxing, funerals, irrigation, milk, peddlers, riots, stenography, volcanos, and wrecks, among others. Among the publications from which illustrations were removed are Harper's weekly, Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, Puck, Illustrated London News, and King's New York City Views. Dates Kubler noted on the individual items are the dates on which the illustrations appeared in the publication from which they were extracted, not the date of the events or subjects being documented. Each print is mounted on tissue. Folders marked by a red circle indicate extremely rare prints.
File folders are numbered, but not according to chronology. Cross-references between numbers and subjects are available using the card catalog.
Stereographer and collector. George A. Kubler was born in Ohio in 1876. He was the founder and president of the Certified Dry Mat Corporation in New York City. The firm made stereotype matrices and initiated the process of rotary press printing of newspapers. Kubler was particularly interested in illustrations in magazines and newspapers.
This collection is the product of his avid interest in print collecting and cataloging. To create this collection, Kuler gathered European and American books and periodicals dating almost exclusively from the 19th century from which he removed the illustrations, most of which were wood and steel engravings. In addition, Kuler was the author of five books on stereotyping and stereotypes.
This collection was donated to Cooper-Hewitt, then Cooper Union Museum Libray, by Mrs. George A. Kubler in December 1948.
Unrestricted research use onsite by appointment. Permission of staff required to photograph materials.
Eugene C. Worman, Jr. Sketch mapping locations depicted by William H. Bartlett, 198-?. Eugene C. Worman research material on William H. Bartlett, 1835-1995. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Freedmen's Bureau Digital Collection, 1865–1872, is a product of and owned by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution. Copyright for digital images is retained by the donor, FamilySearch International; permission for commercial use of the digital images may be requested from FamilySearch International, Intellectual Property Office, at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Courtesy of the U. S. National Archives and Records Administration, FamilySearch International, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Carnegie Institute, Museum of Art records, 1883-1962, bulk 1885-1940. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Brown Foundation. Funding for the digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Brittain, Harry G. 2014. Forensic Studies of Stamps Issued by the Confederate States of America, Part V: The steel-plate engraved, 10-cent Jefferson Davis Type II Issue. The Confederate Philatelist, 59(2): 5-11.
Brittain, Harry G. 2014. "Forensic Studies of Stamps Issued by the Confederate States of America, Part V: The steel-plate engraved, 10-cent Jefferson Davis Type II Issue." The Confederate Philatelist, 59, (2) 5–11.