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FG 218 (Smithsonian Institution)

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Scope and Content Note

The file FG 218 contains correspondence and memoranda regarding the Smithsonian Institution and the museums under its control. In 1829, British scientist James Smithson bequeathed his fortune to the United States for the founding in Washington of an institution for the "increase and diffusion of knowledge among men." Such an establishment was formally created seventeen years later by the passage of an act of Congress. The Smithsonian Institution fulfills Smithson's mandate in a number of ways, through carrying out of research; publishing the results of explorations and investigations; preserving over 60 million items of cultural, historical, and scientific interest for study; and exhibiting selected items in museums specializing in natural history, aeronautics and space exploration, U.S. History and technology, and the arts. The Smithsonian also takes part in international exchange, and educational, research, and training programs.

Also contained in FG 218 are the subseries FG 218-1 through FG 218-6, which contain documents relating to units of the Smithsonian of particular interest to the Nixon administration. They are, respectively, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Joseph H. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the National Armed Forces Museum Advisory Board, the National Gallery of Art, the National Air and Space Museum, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Principal correspondents in FG 218 include President Nixon, S. Dillon Ripley, Secretary of the Smithsonian, John Ehrlichman, Assistant to the President, Daniel P. Moynihan, Counselor to the President, Leonard Garment, Counselor to the President, and Henry Kissinger, Assistant to the President.

On the folders, the terms Executive and General are used in the titles to indicate separation of documents according to source and handling. "Executive" items include communication among national, foreign, and state and local governments and their agencies, members of Congress, and selected prominent correspondents. "General" designates communications between Government officials and private citizens, institutions, and private interest groups. Where "/A" follows a numeric file designation, it indicates files relating to appointments, nominations, and resignations within that organization.

Some of the files related to FG 218 include:

White House Central Files: Subject Files

AR Arts
IV Invitations

FG 218

This sub-category contains letters and memoranda relating to matters of concern to the Smithsonian generally and its relations with the White House, including correspondence with the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.

FG 218-1

This sub-category contains letters relating to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Topics include financing and construction of the Kennedy Center, schedules of performances, and the disposal of tickets to the Presidential box.

FG 218-2

This sub-category contains documents relating to the Joseph H. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Since this museum was being built during the Nixon administration, many of the documents relate to its construction as well as its collection.

FG 218-3

This sub-category contains documents relating to the National Armed Forces Museum Advisory Board. This board was responsible for advising the Smithsonian on the portrayal of the contributions of the Armed Forces.

FG 218-4

This sub-category contains memoranda and letters on general topics relating to the National Gallery of Art.

FG 218-5

This sub-category contains documents relating to the National Air and Space Museum. Topics include the construction of the building and the search for a director.

FG 218-6

This sub-category contains documents which pertain to the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Topics include plans for a new building and the selection of scholars for the Center.

FG 218-1/A

This sub-category contains Executive Orders, transmittal letters, and other documents relating to the appointments, nominations, and resignations of members of both the Kennedy Center Board of Trustees and its Advisory Council on the Arts.

FG 218-2/A

This sub-category contains Executive Orders, transmittal letters, and other documents relating to the appointments, nominations, and resignations of members of board of trustees of the Hirshhorn Museum.

FG 218-3/A

This sub-category contains Executive Orders, transmittal letters, and other documents relating to the appointments, nominations, and resignations of members of the National Armed Forces Museum Advisory Board.

FG 218-5/A

This sub-category contains Executive Orders, transmittal letters, and other documents relating to the appointments, nominations, and resignations of members of the National Air and Space Museum.

FG 218-6/A

This sub-category contains Executive Orders, transmittal letters, and other documents relating to the appointments, nominations, and resignations of members of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

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