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The Smithsonian Institution Archives announces the launch of its new website, http://siarchives.si.edu, with new features and improved access to collections. First launched in 1995, the website has been redesigned to maximize public access to the Archives’ rich collections that document the history of the Smithsonian and its role in the arts, science and culture of the United States.
The Smithsonian Archives is the record keeper of the Smithsonian—collecting, preserving and making available the official records of the Smithsonian’s 19 museums, nine research centers and the National Zoo.
Visitors to the new website will have access to a number of new features:
- A new Collections Search feature that provides online access to all Archives’ records cataloged to date with the ability to download media for free personal and educational use, as well as to make reference requests directly from the Archives’ collection guides
- Dedicated pages on the history of each Smithsonian museum and research center, as well as resources on the overall history of the Smithsonian, including a timeline of major events in Smithsonian history and historic pictures of the Smithsonian
- Access to more than 4,000 finding aids, which serve as guides to the Archives’ collections, and have been optimized for search to help the public more easily explore the 35,000 cubic feet of records held by the Archives
- New online forums for the public to ask reference questions and get tips on collections care and records management from Archives staff
“I am delighted with this new window into the extraordinary research resources held in the Smithsonian Archives,” said Anne Van Camp, director of the Archives. “We invite the public to find and use these treasures in new and exciting ways and to share with us what they discover and learn.”
Access to the Archives’ resources and online exhibitions has been improved for easier navigation. In addition to providing access to all of the Archives’ cataloged collections, the new Collections Search features more than 5,000 digitized photographs and documents, including the will of James Smithson, who left his fortune to the United States in order to found the Smithsonian Institution, and letters from the Wright Brothers discussing aeronautics with former Smithsonian Secretary Samuel P. Langley.
Additional history features allow visitors to explore key endeavors in which the Smithsonian made major contributions—such as 150 years of scientific research in Latin America and the preservation of endangered species. Furthermore, educators can easily access primary sources on major events in American history, related curriculum guides and recorded lectures.
In addition to improved collections access, the Archives has increased the opportunities for visitors to interact with staff and acquire a behind-the-scenes look at the collections and practices at the Archives. The Archives’ popular blog, The Bigger Picture, will continue to share intriguing stories about the history of the Smithsonian, as well as archival tips and case studies about the challenges the Archives faces preserving this rich history. Visitors can also stay in touch with the Archives on popular social media channels, including the Flickr Commons, which features photography collections.
Night Kitchen Interactive of Philadelphia designed the new website for the Archives.
About the Archives
The Smithsonian Institution Archives captures, preserves and makes available to the public the history of this extraordinary Institution. From its inception in 1846 to the present, the records of the history of the Institution—its people, its programs, its research and its stories—have been gathered, organized and disseminated so that everyone can learn about the Smithsonian. The history of the Smithsonian is a vital part of American history, of scientific exploration and of international cultural understanding.
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