On August 10, 1846, President James Polk signed legislation that created the Smithsonian Institution. It all started in 1826 when James Smithson, a British scientist, named his nephew as his beneficiary, but stipulated that if the nephew died without heirs (which he did) the estate would go to the United States to found the Smithsonian Institution, “an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men.” Read more about it on the Smithsonian web site.
So happy birthday, Smithsonian! It exists now as a complex of 19 museums, 9 research centers, and the National Zoo. I’ve visited several of the museums, and I can enthusiastically recommend them. My favorites are the National Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of the American Indian. But if you can’t travel there, the museum web sites have wonderful content. The Natural History Museum, for example, has a virtual tour that I’ve enjoyed.
The Smithsonian Magazine (also on Twitter) is full of interesting articles on all kinds of topics. Andersen Library receives it in print and puts the most recent issue on the 2nd-floor magazine racks.
The University Library is a federal depository with many federal, state, local, and international documents on a variety of current and relevant issues available to you in print, microfiche, CD-ROM, and electronically. Come check out your government at the University Library!