National Geographic : 1948 Sep
National Geographic Photographer I.Anthony Stewart Gowns of Presidents' Wives Draw Most Attention from Smithsonian's Female Visitors Dolly Madison's dress isarranged for aphotograph while Martha Washington's figure sitsby. Included in the collection are garments ofrelatives orfriends who served ashostesses forPresidents whose wives were dead or ill, and for theonly bachelor, James Buchanan. Only ashawl ofMartha Randolph, Jefferson's daughter, is available, since her dresses were cutupfor reuse during theCivil War. Acloak isworn by the figure of Martha Patterson, Andrew Johnson's daughter, since noother garment ofhers could befound. Faces are not likenesses,but hair arrangements areauthentic. the light bones of feathered creatures. Fossils usually are very fragmentary. Dr. Wetmore's systematic classification ofallbirds, extinct and extant, which was based largely onhis studies of the Museum collections, isnow the accepted authority the world over.* Known fishes number about 40,000 species and subspecies, with1,400,000 specimens in the National Museum, representing about 60 percent of the knownforms (page 347). During its historythe Institution has sent out approximately 1,500 exploring and collect ing expeditions. Nearly half have been for the purpose of enriching theplant and animal collections. Relatively little ofthis biological material is of much interest tothe laypublic. Only a few of the more spectacular specimens areon display. Its value, however, isenormous, both economically and from the standpoint ofpure science. Ithas been described asanenormous "dictionary ofLife," containing and defining thesymbols inwhich thestory oforganic evolution from algae toman hasbeen written. Man Aspires toWings The Smithsonian was oneofaviation's first workshops. Today itisapantheon ofthat epic development ofthepast 45years which hasmade itpossible tospan theUnited States from ocean toocean inlittle more than four hours. Here flight was pioneered inaseries ofsuccesses which, however, culminated abruptly like thefinal scene ofaGreek tragedy, with the frustrated closing ofascholar's dream. The third Secretary oftheInstitution was *See The Book ofBirds (2volumes), edited by Gilbert Grosvenor and Alexander Wetmore, with 950color portraits byMaj. Allan Brooks, published bythe National Geographic Society. At present outofprint.