6 episodes

Six Smithsonian anthropologists relate the fascinating stories of how the Smithsonian came into possession of important, early collections from around the world and their value for research and local communities to this day. These collections were developed by international explorations and field studies led by exceptional, passionate, and often eccentric, individual scientists and collectors and laid the foundation for the Smithsonian Institution.

19th Century Anthropology Collections Smithsonian, National Museum of Natural History

    • Science

Six Smithsonian anthropologists relate the fascinating stories of how the Smithsonian came into possession of important, early collections from around the world and their value for research and local communities to this day. These collections were developed by international explorations and field studies led by exceptional, passionate, and often eccentric, individual scientists and collectors and laid the foundation for the Smithsonian Institution.

    • video
    The Wilkes Expedition

    The Wilkes Expedition

    The U.S. Exploring Expedition (1838-1842) collected many one-of-a-kind cultural objects, as told by Curator Adrienne Kaeppler.

    • 5 min
    • video
    The Moundbuilders of North America

    The Moundbuilders of North America

    Uncover the mysteries of the moundbuilders as Curator Bruce Smith describes Smithsonian research conducted in the 1880s that answered the question of who built the ancient earthen mounds in eastern North America.

    • 5 min
    • video
    Edward Nelson’s Alaska Expedition

    Edward Nelson’s Alaska Expedition

    Edward Nelson’s 1877-1881 Western Alaska Expedition was the beginning of the Smithsonian’s close collaboration with Arctic peoples to this day, as told by Curator William Fitzhugh.

    • 4 min
    • video
    James Mooney (1861-1921)

    James Mooney (1861-1921)

    19th century anthropologist James Mooney conducted outstanding research, especially among the Kiowa and Cherokee Indians with whom he lived, relates anthropologist JoAllyn Archambault.

    • 5 min
    • video
    Frank Cushing (1857-1900)

    Frank Cushing (1857-1900)

    Frank Cushing lived with the Zuni Indians of New Mexico, immersing himself in their culture, and significantly contributed to our knowledge of Zuni material culture, as explained by Curator Gwyneira Isaac.

    • 4 min
    • video
    Diplomatic Gifts

    Diplomatic Gifts

    The Smithsonian is a beneficiary of diplomatic gifts from foreign governments and the range and significance of the many gifts is explained by Anthropologist Deborah Hull-Walski.

    • 4 min

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