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The Act of Congress, establishing the Institution, directs, as a part of the plan of organization, the formation of a Library, a Museum, and a Gallery of Art, together with provisions for physical research and popular lectures, while it leaves to the Regents the power of adopting such other parts of an organization as they may deem best suited to promote the objects of the bequest.
After much deliberation, the Regents resolved to divide the annual income into two parts—one part to be devoted to the increase and diffusion of knowledge by means of original research and publications—the other part of the income to be applied in accordance with the requirements of the Act of Congress, to the gradual formation of a Library, a Museum, and a Gallery of Art.
The following are the details of the parts of the general plan of organization provisionally adopted at the meeting of the Regents, Dec. 8, 1847.
DETAILS OF THE FIRST PART OF THE PLAN.
I. TO INCREASE KNOWLEDGE.—It is proposed to stimulate research, by offering
rewards for original memoirs on all subjects of investigation.
1. The memoirs thus obtained, to be published in a series of volumes, in a quarto form, and entitled “Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge.”
2. No memoir, on subjects of physical science, to be accepted for publication, which does not furnish a positive addition to human knowledge, resting on original research; and all unverified speculations to be rejected.
3. Each memoir presented to the Institution, to be submitted for examination to a commission of persons of reputation for learning in the branch to which the memoir pertains; and to be accepted for publication only in case the report of this commission is favorable.
4. The commission to be chosen by the officers of the Institution, and the name. of the author, as far as practicable, concealed, unless a favorable decision be made.
5. The volumes of the memoirs to be exchanged for the Transactions of literary and scientific societies, and copies to be given to all the colleges, and principal libraries, in this country. One part of the remaining copies may be offered for sale; and the other carefully preserved, to form complete sets of the work, to supply the demand from new institutions.
6. An abstract, or popular account, of the contents of these memoirs to be given to the public, through the annual report of the Regents to Congress.
II. TO INCREASE KNOWLEDGE.— It is also proposed to appropriate a portion of the
income, annually, to special objects of research, under the direction of suitable persons.
1. The objects, and the amount appropriated, to be recommended by counsellors of the Institution.
2. Appropriations in different years to different objects; so that, in course of time, each branch of knowledge may receive a share.
3. The results obtained from these appropriations to be published, with the memoirs before mentioned, in the volumes of the Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge.
4. Examples of objects for which appropriations may be made:
(1.) System of extended meteorological observations for solving the problem of American storms.
(2.) Explorations in descriptive natural history, and geological, mathematical, and topographical surveys, to collect material for the formation of a Physical Atlas of the United States.
(3.) Solution of experimental problems, such as a new determination of the weight of the earth, of the velocity of electricity, and of light; chemical analyses of- soils and plants; collection and publication of articles of science, accumulated in the offices of Government.
(4.) Institution of statistical inquiries with reference to physical, moral, and political subjects.
(5.) Historical researches, and accurate surveys of places celebrated in American history.
(6.) Ethnological researches, particularly with reference to the different races of men in North America; also explorations, and accurate surveys, of the mounds and other remains of the ancient people of our country.
I. TO DIFFUSE KNOWLEDGE.—It is proposed to publish a series of reports, giving an
account of the new discoveries in science, and of the changes made from year to year in all branches of knowledge not strictly professional.
1. Some of these reports may be published annually, others at longer intervals, as the income of the Institution or the changes in the branches of knowledge may indicate.
2. The reports are to be prepared by collaborators, eminent in the different branches of knowledge.
3. Each collaborator to be furnished with the journals and publications, domestic
4. The reports to be published in separate parts, so that persons interested in a
5. These reports may be presented to Congress, for partial distribution, the
The following are some of the subjects which may be embraced in the reports : -
I. PHYSICAL CLASS.
1. Physics, including astronomy, natural philosophy, chemistry, and meteorology.
II. MORAL AND POLITICAL CLASS.
5. Ethnology, including particular history, comparative philology, antiquities, &c.
III. LITERATURE AND THE FINE ARTS.
9. Modern literature.
II. TO DIFFUSE KNOWLEDGE.—It is proposed to publish occasionally separate treatises
on subjects of general interest.
1. These treatises may occasionally consist of valuable memoirs translated from
2. The treatises to be submitted to a commission cf competent judges, previous
DETAILS OF TIIE SECOND PART OF THE PLAN OF ORGANIZATION.
This part contemplates the formation of a Library, a Museum, and a Gallery of Art.
1. To carry out the plan before described, a library will be required, consisting, 1st, of a complete collection of the transactions and proceedings of all the learned societies of the world; 2d, of the more important current periodical publications, and other works necessary in preparing the periodical reports.
2. The Institution should make special collections, particularly of objects to verify its own publications. Also a collection of instruments of research in all branches of experimental science.
3. With reference to the collection of books, other than those mentioned above, catalogues of all the different libraries in the United States should be procured, in order that the valuable books first purchased may be such as are not to be found elsewhere in the United States.
catalogues of memoirs,adf books foreignbraries, and other materials, should be collected, for rendering the Institution a centre of bibliographical knowledge, whence the student may be directed to any work which he may require.
5.ts believed that the collectionsin natural history will increase by donation, as rapidly as the income of the Institution can make provision for their reception; and, therefore, it will seldom be necessary to purchase any article of this kind.
6. Attempts should be made to procure for the gallery of art, casts of the most celebrated articles of ancient and modern sculpture.
7. The arts may be encouraged by providing a room, free of expense, for the exhibition of the objects of the Art-Union, and other similar societies.
8. A small appropriation should annually be made for models of antiquity, such as those of the remains of ancient temples, &c.
9. The Secretary and his assistants, during the session of Congress, will be required to illustrate new discoveries in science, and to exhibit new objects of art; distinguished individuals should also be invited to give lectures on subjects of general interest.
accordance with the rules adopted in the programme forganization, each memoir in this volume has been favorably reported on by a Commission appointed
for its examination. It is however impossible, in most cases, to verify the state. ments of an author; and, therefore, neither the Commission nor the Institution can be responsible for more than the general character of a memoir.
The following rules have been adopted for the distribution of the quarto volumes of the Smithsonian Contributions:
1. They are to be presented to all learned societies which publish Transactions, and give copies of these, in exchange, to the Institution.
2. Also, to all foreign libraries of the first class, provided they give in exchange their catalogues or other publications, or an equivalent from their duplicate volumes.
3. To all the colleges in actual operation in this country, provided they furnish, in return, meteorological observations, catalogues of their libraries and of their students, and all other publications issued by them relative to their organization and history.
4. To all States and Territories, provided there be given, in return, copies of all documents published under their authority.
5. To all incorporated public libraries in this country, not included in any of the foregoing classes, now containing more than 10,000 volumes; and to smaller libraries, where a whole State or large district would be otherwise unsupplied.