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The papers also include files documenting his work as head of the USNM and Smithsonian; biographical, genealogical, and personal information on Wetmore and his family; manuscripts, lists, notes, and drawings from his research on recent and fossil birds; desk diaries and appointment books documenting his daily activities; extensive photographs, photograph albums, lantern slides, and 35mm color slides including images of Wetmore, family, friends, scientific colleagues, and events; manuscripts, correspondence, and related materials concerning his Birds of the Republic of Panama; diplomas and certificates received by Wetmore; and typescript copies of John Xantus letters compiled by Wetmore for the use of Harry Harris during his research on Xantus.
(Frank) Alexander Wetmore (1886-1978), ornithologist, avian paleontologist, and science administrator, was the sixth Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, serving from 1945 to 1952.
His first published paper, "My Experience with a Red-headed Woodpecker," appeared in Bird-Lore in 1900.
By the time he entered the University of Kansas in 1905, Wetmore had made extensive natural history collections around his Wisconsin home and in Independence, Kansas.
These papers provide comprehensive documentation of all aspects of Wetmore's professional career, with particular emphasis on his ornithological and paleornithological research, field work and expeditions, and his activities in professional organizations.
They also illustrate, to a lesser degree, his personal affairs.
As his professional status grew, Wetmore received offers of curatorial and research positions from several of the leading museums in America.Two new bureaus were added to the Smithsonian during Wetmore's tenure as Secretary - the National Air Museum (now the National Air and Space Museum) and the Canal Zone Biological Area (now the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute).Despite his administrative responsibilities at the Smithsonian, Wetmore continued an active research program in the field and the laboratory.Wetmore's career as a field worker and scientific expedition member before and during his service in the federal government is thoroughly illustrated.Included are field notes, diaries, specimen catalogs, correspondence, collecting permits, expense accounts, photographs, motion pictures, and related materials documenting field trips to Puerto Rico, the Hawaiian and other Pacific islands, Alaska and the Aleutian Islands, Central and South America (especially Panama) and all regions of the United States.