Showing posts with label Smithsonian Institution. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Smithsonian Institution. Show all posts

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Letter of the Day: May 5

Smithsonian Institution,

Washington, D.C., May 5, 1880.


Dear Doctor Otis,


Charles Ruby, Private Co. D, 4th Infantry, Fort Laramie, says that while out between Hat Creek + Red Cloud Agency he passed the spot where the Cheyenne Indians two years ago made their last stand + nearly all were killed. He remarks that their skulls + bones lie scattered in all directions + will soon be lost. The thought occurred to him whether it would not be of interest to have some of these skulls collected.


Having called your attention to this subject, I remain,


Sincerely yours,

SF Baird


Dr Geo. A. Otis

Army Medical Museum.



Memorandum (written on reverse)


See letter of Dr. Carlos Carvallo, U.S.A., dated May 14, 1880, who states that as soon as possible he will go with a  small detail in search of the skulls etc., alluded to within.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Letter of the Day: January 17

Curatorial Records: Smithsonian Correspondence

Smithsonian Institution. January 17, 1871

Dear Sir:

We have just received a communication from Prof. H.H. [?] Giglioli of Florence, announcing the establishment at that city of a National Museum of Ethnology for the Kingdom of Italy, and expressing the earnest desire to secure crania belonging to the Indian races of America. For these in return he offers ancient Roman and Latin skulls in considerable variety - and we therefore present the subject to your consideration hoping that you may be able to meet his wishes.

In this cinnection [sic] we beg leave to say that it will give us much pleasure to be the medium of transmission of any specimens you may desire to send to the Museum at Florence, especially as we shall have occasion, ourselves, to forward duplicates of other objects to this address.

I am
Yours very truly,
Joseph Henry
Sect'y S. Inst.

[To] Dr. George A. Otis
Army Medical Museum
Etc. Etc. Etc. D.C

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Letter of the Day: January 12

United States National Museum
Under direction of
The Smithsonian Institution
Jan. 12. 1884

My dear Dr. Shufeldt:

Prof Mason is anxious to have for his lecture this afternoon “four exaggerated specimens of head deformation” Chinook + crania, etc. We have none in this museum. There is not time left to make formal application. If you could let them come informally by bearer Prof Mason and the lecture committee will be greatly obliged. If you can’t, please don’t hesitate to say so.

Yours very truly,
G. Brown Goode

Dr. Billings sent over the specimens.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Letter of the Day: November 20

Smithsonian Institution.
U.S. National Museum,
Washington City, Nov. 20, 1878


In accordance with the arrangement between the Smithsonian Institution and the Army Medical Museum, I have the honor to transmit the collections mentioned below, the receipt of which please acknowledge.

Very respectfully, yours,

Spencer F Baird
Secretary S.I.

Ball of hair taken from stomach of cow. Received from E. P. Armistead, Newton, Newton Co., Mississippi

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Letter of the Day: November 6

Washington, Nov. 6, 1875.

Dear Doctor

I spoke to you some time ago about making a selection of at least a single series of skulls, to represent the various tribes of aborigines of North America, for exhibition at the Centennial, either by the Army Medical Museum or by the National Museum.

I would like to hear from you to know whether you will make this display; as I consider it extremely important that the very large ethnological collection to be exhibited on that occasion, should be supplemented by the series in question.

We will gladly receive the specimens here, + be responsible for their safe return, + arrange to exhibit them under suitable circumstances, of course as the property of the Army Medical Museum.

Any other method will suit us equally well, only we hope the exhibition will be made. We are now unpacking a collection of about 300 crania from the vicinity of Santa Barbara + the adjacent islands – a most magnificent series of specimens, + we would be glad to have you come over + look at them + see whether you wish them turned over to the Army Medical Museum, + whether you have space for their accommodation. Many more are yet due.

Yours truly,
Spencer F Baird

Dr. Otis,
Army Medical Museum,
Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Letter of the Day: October 20

Smithsonian Institution,

Washington, D.C., Oct. 20 1870


Dear Sir:


In behalf of the Smithsonian Institution we acknowledge, with thanks, the receipt of your favor or October 18th in regard to “a tin globe which formerly ornamented a flag staff + was struck by lightning” – the specimen itself has, also, been received and will be placed with other matter of a similar character for future reference.


Yours respectfully,

Joseph Henry,

Secretary Smithsonian Institution.


Dr. Geo. A Otis

Army Med Musm


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Letter of the Day: September 9

United States National Museum

Under Direction of

The Smithsonian Institution

Washington Sept. 9. 1886


Dear Sir:


I venture to request that you will lend me, for a few days, the mounted skeleton of Logenorhynchus acutus [aka Atlantic white-sided dolphin] in the Army Medical Museum. I have a paper on the genus Logenorhynchus in preparation and am desirous of comparing an authentic European specimen of the species referred to with others from our own Atlantic coast in this museum.


If you find it possible to grant my request, I will arrange to send a wagon for the specimen.


Very respectfully


Frederick W. True.

Curator of Mammals


Dr. J.S. Billings, U.S.A. +c

Director, U.S. Army Med. Museum.



Answered by Dr. Billings in person Sept 11. 86.


Prof True sent for No 2489. Sect. Comp Anatomy Sept 11, 1886, + the specimen was delivered to the messenger.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Letter of the Day: August 12


REEVE 001551-1 Anatomy, comparative. Opossum skeleton, Australian, front view. [Bones.]

United States National Museum
Washington, D.C.
Aug 12/85.

Dear Sir.

I trust that you will kindly overlook the delay in calling for the balance of skeletons transferred from the Army Medical Museum to the U.S. National Museum. This delay arose from several causes, the principal being lack of accommodation – until recently at the U.S.N.M. Then too I have but one assistant to do all the osteological work and the arranging of specimens in the Museum. Trusting that I may have caused no serious inconvenience I remain

Very respectfully

Frederic A. Lucas.
Ass’t. Dep’t. Comparative Anatomy

W. Matthews M.D.
Asss’t Surgeon U.S.A.


REEVE 001561-1 Anatomy, comparative. Ornithorynchus, duck-bill mole, side view.


REEVE 01558-1 Anatomy, comparative. Salamander from Japan, sirboldia maxima[?], side
view. [Bones.]

Monday, August 9, 2010

Letter of the Day: August 8 ( 2 of 2)

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 88


Smithsonian Institution

Bureau of Ethnology

Washington, D.C., August 8, 1894.


Dear Sir:


Your inquiry of the 14th ultimo concerning the triple-trephined skull found near Cuzco by Dr Maneul A. Muniz and designated by him for presentation to the Army Medical Museum has been received. This skull, together with other specimens in the Muniz collection, remains in the Bureau pending the receipt from Dr Muniz of photographs of drawings of certain other trephined crania in Cuzco; when it is the purpose to prepare a detailed description of the entire collection for publication in one of our annual reports. Until advices are received from Dr. Muniz, it is inexpedient to fix a date for the final disposition of the collection; but should you feel anxious to have this specimen at an early date, I will undertake to put it in your hands by the end of the present month with no condition than that you will afford facilities for further examination in the Museum should occasion arise.


Yours with respect,

WJ McGee



Dr. J.S. Billings,

Deputy Surgeon General,

U.S. Army.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Letter of the Day: August 3 - Milan medical museum?

Washington August 3 1867


My dear Doctor


Among a large number of interesting Medical & Surgical works recently received by us from Milan was the enclosed little pamphlet which if you have not already seen it may interest you as begin on very small scale what you are doing on a very large. Please return when done with and oblige


Your truly

S.F. Baird


Dr. Otis USA

Army Med. Mus.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Letter of the Day: July 14

Smithsonian Institution,
July 14, 1869

Dr. G.A. Otis,
Army Med’l. Mus’m.

Dear Sir:

We have lately selected from our alcoholic collections a number of human foetuses, animal monstrosities, entozoa, etc, which we shall be happy to deliver to your messenger, together with a human skull [AMM No 623 Anatomical Sect.] from the mounds of Indiana.

Please send us the label of the Indian Cerement lately forwarded by you to this Institution,

Yours very truly
Joseph Henry

Monday, May 10, 2010

Letter of the Day: May 10

Smithsonian Institution,
Washington, May 10, 1875

Dr. George A Otis,
Army Med. Mus.

Dear Sir:

We have the pleasure of acknowledging the receipt of the Indian scalp referred to in your letter of the 4th of May. This will be placed in the Ethnological Museum of the Institution in connection with other objects of a similar character.

Truly yours etc
Joseph Henry
Sect. S.I.

This is in reference to these two letters:

May 4, 1875


I am instructed by the Surgeon General to acknowledge the reception, through your headquarters, of a communication from the Seminole Negro Scout “Avann (?) his + mark Parino,” transmitting an Indian scalp and also a ferrotype picture of the scalper. These specimens have been numbered 703-704 Sect VI, (Miscellaneous Section) of the Army Medical Museum for transfer to the ethnological cabinet of the Smithsonian Institution.

I am, General, very respectfully,
Your obedient servant,
George A. Otis,
Asst. Surgeon, USA
Curator, A.M.M.

August, USA, Brig. General C.C.
Commanding Dept of Texas
San Antonio, TX

May 4, 1875

Professor –

I have the honor to transmit for the ethnological cabinet of the Smithsonian Institution, in accordance with the arrangement between the two Museums, an Indian scalp with a ferrotype of the scalper, received by the Surgeon General with the letter copied on a succeeding page.

I am, Professor,
With the highest respects,
Your obedient servant,
George A. Otis
Asst. Surgeon, USA
Curator, A.M.M.

Henry, Professor Joseph
Smithsonian Institution
Washington, DC

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Letter of the Day: April 27

34, 585 (presumably a Smithsonian number)

Washington, April 27, 1874

Dear Doctor.

I send you a letter from a correspondent in Florida, who seems to have struck a vein. Please return this as soon as you have perused it, + let me know whether you can authorise (sic) him to expense any money, say, ten, twenty, or thirty dollars or more, in excavating for the skulls + skeletons of dead Indians.

Very truly yours,
Spencer F. Baird

Dr. Geo. A. Otis
Army Medical Museum,

(a note written on the letter says ‘no enclosure was rec’d’)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Letter of the Day: April 16

Smithsonian Institution

Washington, D.C., April 16, 1885


Dear Sir:


We are in receipt every few days from various menageries and zoological gardens, of animals that have died of some disease; some of them sent with the understanding that a report will be made of the causes of death. Learning from you that you propose to make a collection of soft parts of animals for the purposes of comparative anatomical study, I beg to say that it will give me much pleasure to transfer the carcasses, as they come to hand, to the Army Medical Museum, if you will cause to be furnished on each occasion a report of the post mortem, for transmission to the donors. I understand that the Museum is making preparations for permanent presentations of specimens to illustrate the comparative anatomy of various organs, and in this event the National Museum will abandon its previous intention of making such collection; and will turn over a large amount of material already in store, as it is not desirable to have a duplicate.



Spencer Baird


Dr. J. S. Billings,

Army Medical Museum,


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Letter and Photographs of the Day: April 13 addition

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 8202

April 13, 1905

Mr. J. E. Standley,
Colman Dock,
Seattle, Washington


Your letter of the 4th inst. Addressed to the Smithsonian Institution, containing two photographs of Samoans showing elephantiasis and one of a Javanese woman with multiple fibrous tumors has been referred with the photographs to the Surgeon General, U.S. Army, for deposit in the Army Medical Museum.

The Surgeon General directs me to express his thanks to you for the photographs and to inform you that they will be added to the series of contributed photographs of this Museum.

Very respectfully,

C.L. Heizmann
Col. Asst. Surgeon General, U.S.A.
In charge of Museum & Library Division

These two pictures from Ye Old Curiosity Shop and Indian Curio of Colman Dock, Seattle, became CP 2593 and 2594.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Letter of the Day: February 21

This is what is more commonly known as a soap lady, like the one in the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia. Perhaps it’s the same one?

This letter was written 2 days before Otis died on the job.


Smithsonian Institution,

Washington D.C., Feb. 21, 1881


Dear Doctor,


I enclose an offer of an adipocere woman. Do you want it for the Museum. It ought to be preserved somewhere; but would not be appropriate for the National Museum


Yours truly,


Spencer Baird


Dr. George A. Otis

Medical Museum,

Washington, D.C.


Note on bottom says, “Enclosure returned to Prof. Baird”


Monday, February 15, 2010

Letter of the day: February 15

Smithsonian Institution
February 15 '70 (1870)

Dr. George A. Otis
Army Medical Museum,

Dear Sir,

I have the honor on behalf of this establishment to acknowledge the receipt of the two teeth mention in yours of February 5th and which have been transferred by the Medical Department of the U.S. Army to the Smithsonian Institution in accordance with the terms of an agreement, entered into, some time since, by these two establishments relative to an exchange of certain kinds of specimens.

Of the two teeth which are of those of Fossil horse, - the larger will bear the number 9826, the smaller 9827.

Very truly,
Your obdt servant,

Joseph Henry

Scty, Smith. Inst.
by D.L. [illegible]

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow fears come true at Smithsonanian

The Associated Press is reporting that one of the collection storage units for the Air and Space Museum has had its roof collapse. We also have a flat-roofed storage unit in Maryland. I hope our colleagues are able to rescue everything - these buildings, if they're the ones I'm thinking of, are older hangers with airplanes in them.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Letter of the day: January 24

Received wisdom has the Medical Museum collecting American Indian remains, and later transferring them to the Smithsonian, but this form letter shows that material went both ways.

Smithsonian Institution
U.S. National Museum
Washington City, Jan. 24, 1878


In accordance with the arrangement between the Smithsonian Institution and the Army Medical Museum, I have the honor to transmit the collections mentioned below,t he receipt of which please acknowledge.

Very respectfully, yours,

Spencer F. Baird
Asst. Secretary S.I.

Collection human bones from Indian graves in Santa Barbara Col, Col., gathered in 1875 by the expedition of Lt. Geo. M. Wheeler.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Lecture on Smithsonian's Arts and Industries Building

The Army Medical Museum and Library building, demolished in 1968, had the same architect. - Mike

The Latrobe Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians

proudly presents

What's New in What We Know About the Smithsonian's Arts & Industries Building

Panel Discussion led by Cynthia Field, Emeritus Architectural Historian, Smithsonian Institution

Monday, November 9, 2009

Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives

6:30 P.M. - light refreshments, 7:00 P.M. - lecture

Five years ago, Cynthia Field thought she told us everything there was to know about Adolf Cluss and his fascinating masterwork, the Smithsonian's Arts & Industries Building. That was then, and this is now. Join us to hear from Dr. Field and the Smithsonian team who have been studying the building in ever greater detail. They will present findings so new they have only just been learned using sophisticated analyses as well as old fashioned research.

The panel will consist of three Smithsonian members: Cynthia Field, now Emeritus Architectural Historian for the Smithsonian; Sharon Park, Associate Director, Architectural History and Historic Preservation; and Christopher Lethbridge, Project Manager. They will be joined on the panel by two members of the Washington office of Ewing-Cole who worked on the historic structures report: Gretchen Pfaehler, Managing Principal, and Cristina Radu, Architectural Historian.

After a brief reminder of the important historical information, Park and Lethbridge will discuss the sustainability aspects their studies have revealed and consultants Pfaehler and Radu will tell us their findings about the use of materials in the building.

Their work will elucidate the structure we have come to regard as one of Washington's grandest buildings. All the members of the panel will answer questions following the presentations.

The discussion takes place at The Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives,

1201 17th Street, NW, Washington, DC. Reservations are not required.

$10.00 for Latrobe Chapter Members and full-time students (with ID), $18.00 for non-members.

For general information, please see the Latrobe Chapter website at, or contact Caroline Mesrobian Hickman at (202) 363-1519 or