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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.”" The system of exchanges was adopted in 1846, 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.


During the administration of Professor Henry, a man who devoted 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

1 Report of Secretary for 1888, 25. 2 Ibid, 28.



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 chiefly 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.

Furniture and


Heating and



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.

$4,000.00 4,000.00 4,000.00 4,000.00 4,000.00 4,000.00 4,000.00 4,000.00 4,000.00 10,000.00 4, 000.00 4,000.00 10,000.00 10,000.00

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10, 000.00 S 15,000.00

12, 000.00


March 3, 1873

15, 000.00

1 Appropriations for printing are not included in this list.

Statement of appropriations by Congress for the National Museum, etc.—Continued.

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When we contemplate the vast amount of useful work that is now being done by this department of the Governinent in the collection and dissemination of knowledge, it seems strange that the United States should have existed ninety years as a nation before this institution was called into existence. Though the Bureau was established according to the needs and demands of education, it has served to give strength and vigor to every department of knowledge.


It is impossible to treat fairly the subject of higher education in the United States without placing among the foremost agencies for the promotion of knowledge this Government clearing-house for statistical and historical information. “Educators, political economists, and statesmen felt the need of some central agency by which the general educational statistics of the country could be collected, preserved, condensed, and properly arranged for distribution. This need found expression finally in the action taken at a convention of the superintendence de

1 For a full discussion of the subject, see “The National Bureau of Education; Its Work and Limitations,” by Alexander Shiras, D. D., and “Answers to Inquiries about the Bureau of Education; Its Work and History,” by Charles Warren, M. D,


partment of the National Educational Association, held at Washington, February, 1866, where it was resolved to petition Congress in favor of a National Bureau of Education.” The memorial was presented in the House of Representatives, with an accompanying bill for the proposed Bureau, by General Garfield, who on this occasion made an able speech on national education. The bill was passed by the House, and subsequently by the Senate, with an amendment creating a department of education instead of a bureau, as was first proposed. The act took effect in July, 1868, and was amended in June of the following year, by abolishing the Department of Education and creating a Bureau of Education as an Office in the Department of the Interior, the form in which it has since existed. Section first of the text of the act sets forth the chief objects of the Bureau of Education as follows: “Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That there shall be established, at the city of Washington, a Department of Education, for the purpose of collecting such statistics and facts as shall show the condition and progress of education in the several States and Territories, and of diffusing such information respecting the organization and management of school systems, and methods of teaching, as shall aid the people of the United States in the establishment and maintenance of efficient school systems, and otherwise promote the cause of education throughout the country.” As defined by this act, the range of the work of the Bureau is unlimited as far as all classes and grades of schools are concerned, and, in fact, the subject of higher education and libraries, with all means of education, should receive as much attention as the common schools. It was not intended by the originators of the plan for the Department of Education, nor by those who gave it their intelligent consideration in Congress, that it should ever exercise national control over the administration of education. . Yet no. other agency has done so much toward the homogeneity of schools and methods as this. If it does not bring the youth from all over the country into one institution and there instruct them after a uniform plan, it does acquaint each part of the nation with what all the other parts are doing in education. This, after all, is the great method of leveling distinctions and turning local pride into desires for universal education.


The work of the Bureau is increasing rapidly, and the collections and classifications of educational material in the library render the work

permanent and thorough in its effects.

- 1 Warren, 9.

The idea of forming a library at the national capital with works treating of education alone is in itself an inspiring thought.

The library of the Bureau is becoming exceedingly useful to educators and investigators of educational subjects. It now contains twentytwo thousand bound volumes and sixty thousand pamphlets, besides many thousand duplicates for exchange and distribution. During the past year'one thousand seven-hundred volumes and fifteen thousand pamphlets were added; eight thousand cards for the catalogue were written, and over three hundred giving reference to investigators on different topics were prepared."

The library contains many foreign books and periodicals, which greatly enchance its value to students and educators. The clerical work in handling the educational material and attending to the collection and publication of statistics may be illustrated by stating that in 1886–87 the Office received 11,006 written letters, 43,000 acknowledgments, 4,825 documents, and 20,000 replies to statistical forms of inquiry. The office also sent out 19,354 written letters and distributed 218,526 printed documents.”


A modern feature of the Bureau is a valuable museum of educational apparatus and appliances. In this collection are now exhibited two thousand five hundred objects. The Bureau is arranged for the student, as well as for the benefit of schools. As the library and museum increase, it will become more and more valuable in the former respect. Persons who go to the Bureau for the work of research will find under the direction of the Commissioner a polite and attentive body of clerks, who give every needed assistance to find what students desire in the well ordered and well classi. fied library, The appropriations for carrying on the Bureau are small in comparison with other Government Departments, while the annount of work done is comparatively large. Everybody in the Office works under difficulties on account of the crowded condition of the library and other rooms. While considering the problem of erecting a Congressional Library building Congress could easily and wisely spend a hundred thousand in constructing a new fire-proof building for the library, museum, and offices of the Bureau of Education. A few statistics kindly furnished by the present Commissioner, Col. H. N. R. Dawson, will show what is being done by the Government.

1 Report of the Commissioner for 1886–87, 13. *Ibid, 12.

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