« PreviousContinue »
sociates and successors, are liereby created in the District of Columbia a body corporate and politic, by the name of the American Historical Association, for the promotion of historical studies, the collection and preservation of historical manuscripts, and for kindred purposes in the interest of American history and of history in America. Said association is authorized to hold real and personal estate in the District of Columbia so far only as may be necessary to its lawful ends to an amount not exceeding five hundred thousand dollars, to adopt a consti. tution, and to make by-laws not inconsistent with law. Said association shall have its principal office at Washington, in the District of Columbia, and may hold its annual meetings in such places as the said incorporators shall determine. Said association shall report annually to the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution concerning its proceedings and the condition of historical study in America. Said secretary shall
' communicate to Congress the whole of such reports, or such portion thereof as he shall see fit. The regents of the Smithsonian Institution are authorized to permit said association to deposit its collections, manuscripts, books, pamphlets, and other material for history in the Smithsonian Institution or in the National Museum; at their discretion, upon such conditions and under such rules as they shall prescribe.
“Approved, January 4, 1889.”
This association should aim to connect itself with all State institutions of a similar nature in the country, and thus begin a systematic and practical use of the Museum. On the other hand there is ample opportunity to develop a department of modern as well as ancient history in the Museum. How this is to be done depends upon the association and the authorities of the Museum. But from this central body might go out to libraries, and schools, and lecture bureaus, and to historical societies, copies of manuscripts, photographs, and bulletin plates for lecturers throughout the country.
Possibly there could be established at Washington a central lecture course on history, which includes in these days anthropology, ethnology, geography, and economics, and by means of photographs and plates similar lectures could be given elsewhere, until there would be a united body of historians all over the land studying from a common center, after an organized plan, and continually contributing to the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.”
It would seem desirable for the association to establish relations with local and State historical societies for the purpose of co-operation in research, the collection of materials, and the diffusion of historical knowledge. The secretary of the Smithsonian was one of a committee of three appointed by Congress to form a commission on historical manuscripts.
With organized work a valuable collection of historical archives, family papers, valuable letters, and historical autographs might be made.
Professor Goode's idea that the chief value of a museum is educa
tional applies to every department of knowledge that can be illustrated by a specimen or picture; and in this department, as in others, the possibility of an intelligent use of museums is slowly dawning upon teach
A dingy room filled with unclassified material will soon be an indication that there are other fossils filling professors' chairs.
The present use of the American Museum of Natural History, in Central Park, New York, for the systematic instruction of professional teachers is a commendable illustration of progress in this line. A reg. ular course of lectures is formed, which are delivered in regular order on Saturdays, in a small hall prepared for the work, with a seating capacity of 275 persons. The trustees hired Chickering Hall for the benefit of the autumn course (1887). The average number attending was 1,329. Besides the use of materials for illustration, stereopticon slides are used to reproduce non-portable materials.
The State has indorsed the work by a liberal appropriation for carrying it on.
One of the early plans was to have in connection with the Museum a course of lectures, more or less popular in their nature. The board of regents accordingly authorized a system of free lectures in the Smithsonian Institution. The first lectures were delivered in 1848, there being devoted to this purpose the sum of eighty dollars. The amounts appropriated for lectures increased from year to year, together with the incidentals connected with illustrating lectures, the greatest appropriation reaching the sum of $1,044.32, in the year 1863. In 1865 the lecture courses were suspended for a term of five years, being resumed in 1870, and suspended again in 1876. From 1848 to 1876 lectures were continued through twenty-four years, during which time there was appropriated for this purpose out of the Smithsonian fund the total sum of $21,701.28. The lectures at present held in the hall of the Museum have been under the auspices of the learned societies, though of a somewhat miscellaneous and popular nature. These were largely attended. Many of the lectures had direct reference to the work of the Museum, and were illustrated by specimens.
PUBLICATIONS AND EXCHANGES.
"The diffusion of knowledge among men
" has been effected in different ways by the Institution, but chiefly through publications and exchanges. The principal publications are of five series, as follows:3 (1) Contributions to knowledge; (2) Miscellaneous collections; (3) Annual report of the board of regents to Congress ; (4) The proceedings of the National Museum; and (5) Annual reports of the Bureau of Ethnology.
1 Smith. Mis. Coll., XVIII, 729. 2 G. Brown Goode, Report for 1885, 21. 3 Secretary's Report for 1888, 21 et seq.
The first series was commenced in 1848, and now numbers twenty-five volumes, composed of valuable papers of scientific research. The second series was commenced in 1862; though of less scientific importance than the first, it has increased far inore rapidly, its published volumes now numbering thirty-three. The foregoing publications have been made at the expense of the Smithsonian income on permanent funds, while the remaining three series have been published at the expense of the Government, annual appropriations having been made by Congress for the same. However, this publication is not without expense to the Smithsonian fund, as the preparation of suitable 'material for an appendixl has been a constant and increasing charge upon the Institution, amounting to several thousand dollars each year.
Under the head of Proceedings of the National Museum are to be included (1) the bulletins and (2) the proceedings. The former are short monographs on “ biological subjects, check lists, taxonomic systems," etc., and furnish a prompt publication of the descriptions of minerals received and a means of “illustrating the mineral, botanical, zoological, and ethnological specimens belonging to the Museum." This series was commenced in 1875, thirty-two bulletins having been published since that time.
The “ proceedings” consist of shorter and less elaborate publications for the purpose of giving recent accounts of new accessions to the Museum and newly acquired facts.
These irregular publications are collected into bound volumes, one being published annually. This series commenced in 1878, and now numbers nine volumes, “averaging about six lundred and fifty pages, and illustrated with numerous wood-cut plates."
Though not so important, viewed in the light of scientific research, as other publications, this last series is exceedingly useful in bearing directly upon general education.
The last series to be mentioned is that of the annual report of the Bureau of Ethnology, of which only four large-size volumes of royal octavo form have been published. They contain matter of great importance to the anthropologist and are valuable additions to science.
The Smithsonian managers have always distributed these volumes of the different series with a liberality limited only by their resources for printing.
The institution bas been able to print in ordinary cases only from 1,250 to 1,500 copies of each work, three-fourths of which go to supply the regular lists of correspondence and the exchanges. “The distribution is made first to those learned societies of the first class which give to the institution in return complete sets of their own publications ; secondly, to colleges of the first class furnishing catalogues of their libraries and students and publications relative to their organization and history; thirdly, to public libraries in this country having twenty
The appendix contains an "annual record of science and industry,” since 1880.
five thousand volumes; fourthly, they are presented in some cases to still smaller libraries, especially if no other copies of the Smithsonian publications are given in the same place and a large district would otherwise be unsupplied ; lastly, to institutions devoted exclusively to the promotion of particular branches of knowledge, such of its publications are given as relate to their special objects.” 1
The system of exchanges was adopted in 1816, and was continued through twenty years of successful work, when a new duty was laid upon the Institution by an act of Congress in 1867, creating the international exchange of Government publications, combining the interests of knowledge with a Government agency for the distribution of official documents. The amount of work accomplished in this system of exchanges is truly wonderful. In its present condition there were shipped in 1886–87 “10,000 domestic and over 40,000 foreign packages of books," and this was increased in the following year to over “12,000 domestic and 62,000 foreign packages."
From 1868, the time of the first operation of the act regulating Gov. ernmental exchanges, to 1881, the expenses of the said exchanges were borne entirely by the Smithsonian Institution. In the latter year Congress made an appropriation of $3,000 for that purpose, and it has been gradually increased from year to year. Prior to 1880 the Institution expended $92,386.29 for exchanges, two-thirds of which was on account of the Government; since 1880, $96,065.85 have been expended, and $57,500 of this sum were paid by the Government.?
This will suffice to show something of the nature and amount of work done by the Institution in the interest of knowledge. In addition to this, thousands of scholars and individuals throughout this country and others have been benefited by the answers to scientific questions that come annually to the Institution concerning specimens of minerals, plants, and animals, or to questions for more general information.
CHANGES IN THE WORK OF THE INSTITUTION.
During the administration of Professor Henry, a man who deyoted his entire life largely to scientific investigation, there was a tendency to shut off all departments of the Institution not in the direct line of original research. The first to be disposed of was the museum of art, which passed under the control of the managers of the Corcoran Art Gallery.
Later the meteorological bureau was made a separate department; formerly all observations were carried on under the direction of the Smithsonian. The herbarium was also disposed of, and is now under a separate management. An attempt was made to place the museum under separate charge, but it did not succeed.
The library was deposited with the Congressional Library in 1867, on
account of lack of room and in order to place the books in a fire-proof building. When placed there the library numbered about forty thousand volumes, obtained chietly through exchanges, and containing the publications of learned societies as well as representing the history of every branch of positive science.
The library has increased so that it now numbers about two hundred and fifty thousand volumes. A small number, about one-twentieth of the whole, is kept in the museum building for a reference library,
under the titles of " secretary's library" and "editor's library.”
During the year 1887-88 there were 18,948 books, pamphlets, and maps deposited in the several libraries by the Smithsonian Institution.
The treatment of the Smithsonian fund has been quite remarkable. Besides carrying on the great work of investigation, the Institution has now a library equal in value to the original fund or bequest, and buildings equal to more than half the original bequest, while the present fund is nearly two hundred thousand dollars greater than the original bequest. The regents were authorized to make additions to the fund by such deposits as they saw fit, not exceeding, with the original bequest, one million dollars.
The amount of work now required is even greater than the present limited means will accomplish. If the permanent fund were increased to the full limit, as it ought to be, the work could be rendered by far more effective.
Statement of appropriations by Congress for the National Museum from 1857 to 1888,
Date of act.
Preservation of collections.
March 3, 1857 June 2, 1858 March 3, 1859 June 25, 1860. March 2, 1861 March 1, 1862 March 3, 1863 July 2, 1864 April 7, 1865 July 28, 1866 March 2, 1867 July 20, 1868 March 3, 1869 July 15, 1870 March 3, 1871 May 18, 1872 June 2, 1872.
10,000.00 S 15,000.00
March 3, 1873
1 Appropriations for printing are not included in this list.