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The Russell E. Train Africana Collection: An Archival Safari

On October 22, 2010, the Libraries participated in the Smithsonian Archives Fair to celebrate American Archives Month. Special Collections Cataloger, Diane Shaw, delivered a presentation about the archival materials of The Russell E. Train Africana Collection, which contains several thousand manuscripts, photographs, original artwork and prints, posters, maps, ephemera, and man-made and natural artifacts relating to exploration, big game hunting, wildlife, and travel in Africa dating from 1663 to the late 1990s. Formerly part of the private collection of Judge Russell E. Train of Washington, D.C., these materials were acquired by SIL in 2004, together with over 1500 printed books, which are all housed together in the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History.

The Russell E. Train Collection covers an amazing diversity of topics, with items by and about such notable people as President Theodore Roosevelt; the Scottish missionary and explorer David Livingstone; journalist and explorer Henry Morton Stanley; taxidermist Carl E. Akeley; naturalist Edmund Heller; traveler Richard Francis Burton; author Ernest Hemingway; artist Sir John Everett Millais; and documentary filmmakers Osa and Martin Johnson; among others. A number of the items are also related to the history of the Smithsonian, including Theodore Roosevelt’s 1909-1910 African expedition, where some of the animals now in the Natural History Museum’s collections were acquired.  The materials in the Russell E. Train Collection have greatly enhanced the Libraries’ ability to support research in African art and natural history.

A webcast of all of the Smithsonian Archives Fair presentations is available on the Archives Month website; the Russell Train Collection presentation begins at 0:28:00. The slides from the talk are included here:

The Russell E. Train Africana Collection: An Archival Safari through Photographs, Sketchbooks, Manuscripts and Other Materials from the Smithsonian Libraries

Diane Shaw


  1. […] create a single online location for scientific field books. The talk was followed by a tour of the Russell E. Train Africana Collection, a special collection housed in the Smithsonian Institution Libraries which contains several […]

  2. Randall Brown

    Will be in DC for three days: 15-17 Oct, 2015. Would love to see the Livingstone rifle! … If it is possible to see the gun please contact me! Thank you.

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