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Religion Collections in Libraries and Archives: Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia

Smithsonian Institution: National Anthropological Archives

Introductory Information

Access Policies

Hours of service: Tuesday – Friday, 9:00 am – 4:30 pm, excluding federal holidays.

Open to the public: Yes, by appointment. Request research appointment form

Interlibrary loan: No

Reference policy: Reference requests are accepted by: email or telephone.

Background note:
The National Anthropological Archives (NAA, located in the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, Department of Anthropology), collects and preserves historical and contemporary anthropological materials that document the world's cultures and the history of anthropology. The NAA was formed in 1968, but the foundations of its collections can be traced to the founding of the Bureau of American Ethnology (BAE) in 1879 and early anthropological research at the Smithsonian (as early as 1846). Its collections represent the four fields of anthropology- ethnology, linguistics, archaeology, and biological anthropology- and include fieldnotes, journals, manuscripts, correspondence, photographs, maps, sound recordings, film and video created by Smithsonian anthropologists, other preeminent scholars, and Indigenous peoples from around the world. The NAA is an important source for the study of Indigenous cultures and languages, especially the peoples of North America.


Archives, manuscripts, correspondences, and/or oral histories
NAA is primarily a manuscript collection. The papers are arranged by office or person of origin not by subject. While there is information on world religions, it is not accessed by subject. Highlights include anthropology and world cultures which would include mythology, religion and folklore.

Maps covering anthropology are available along with finding aids to assist in their use.

Databases and/or electronic resources
Subscription resources
Freely available resources

Digital collections
Smithsonian Collections Search Center
Smithsonian Online Virtual Archives (SOVA)

Subject Headings

Folklore; Mythology