The Smithsonian’s Top 6 Archives Myths


Snowflake Study, 1890, by Wilson A. Bentley, Smithsonian Institution Archives.


 ” Blogs across the Smithsonian will be giving an inside look at the Institution’s archival collections and practices during a month long blogathon in celebration of October’s American Archives Month. See additional posts from our other participating blogs, as well as related events and resources, on the Smithsonian’s Archives Month website.

Over the past month, we’ve been highlighting the things that are in the Smithsonian Institution Archives for American Archives Month. But what about the things that aren’t in the archives of the Smithsonian?

In celebration of Archives Month, and to clear up any confusion once and for all, here are the top six Smithsonian archives related myths I (and our archivists) often hear:


The Smithsonian does not have a freezer full of individual snowflakes in its archives (neither in our collections or any of the other archives across the Smithsonian). I see this one on Twitter all the time, and though it’s amazing sounding, it’s not true. However, we do have some incredible photographs of individual snowflakes in our collections, made by “Snowflake” Bentley in the early 1900s. (PS: You can see more of these photos on the Flickr Commons, and we even have some nifty craft templates made from Bentley’s snowflakes for you to use—perfect as the weather gets frostier!) “