Ripley, S. Dillon (Sidney Dillon), 1913-2001

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S. Dillon Ripley (b. September 20, 1913, New York City, NY - d. March 12, 2001, Washington, D.C.), an ornithologist, served as the eighth Secretary of the Smithsonian from 1964 to 1984, and oversaw tremendous growth. Interested in natural history and exploration since his childhood, Ripley visited the remote nation of Ladakh when he was only thirteen years old. After graduate school, he was a curator at the Smithsonian briefly and then spent almost twenty years teaching at Yale University. He led the Smithsonian through a period of great social and scientific change, and inspired a generation of Smithsonian staff with his expansive vision. Educated at St. Paul’s School, Harvard University, and Yale University, Ripley participated in the Denison-Crockett Expedition to New Guinea in 1937-1938 and the Vanderbilt Expedition to Sumatra in 1939 before completing his PhD. He served briefly as an assistant curator of birds at the US National Museum in the early 1940s, but left to volunteer for the Office of Strategic Services during World War II, and served as an intelligence officer in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), India, and Thailand. After the war, Ripley taught at Yale and directed the university’s Peabody Museum of Natural History prior to coming to the Smithsonian. A prolific popular writer and charismatic figure, Ripley became a favorite of The New Yorker columnist Geoffrey Hellman. At Yale, he established a friends-of-the-museum program and other outreach efforts that he would later duplicate and expand at the Smithsonian. During these years, his field work in Southeast Asia continued with the 1946-1947 Yale-Smithsonian Expedition to India, and the 1948-1949 Yale-Smithsonian-National Geographic Expedition to Nepal. Upon his election as the eighth Secretary, Ripley set out an ambitious plan to reinvigorate and expand the Smithsonian, building on the momentum of Secretaries Alexander Wetmore and Leonard Carmichael. New museums during his tenure included the Anacostia Neighborhood Museum, today the Anacostia Community Museum; Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; Renwick Gallery; National Air and Space Museum; National Museum of African Art; Enid A. Haupt Garden; Quadrangle Complex; and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. Committed to the role of evolutionary theory in systematics, he successfully defended the National Museum of Natural History against a lawsuit that objected to the Dynamics of Evolution exhibit. He sought to increase the Institution’s role in the larger museum community through the National Museum Act programs, and in the primary and secondary education arena through a program to work with K-12 schools. Ripley also increased collections storage and research space through the creation of the Museum Support Center. Ripley greatly increased the Institution’s outreach efforts, especially through The Smithsonian Associates, Smithsonian magazine, and a wide array of public programs. While some found it unseemly, generations of children have enjoyed the carousel he installed in front of the Arts and Industries Building and the Triceratops model, Uncle Beazley, in front of the National Museum of Natural History. Ripley also focused on expansion of the Institution’s research facilities. New research programs that he developed included the Center for Folklife and Cultural Programs; Conservation and Research Center, now the Conservation Biology Institute, of the National Zoo; Smithsonian Center for Materials Research and Education, now the Museum Conservation Institute; the Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce; and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. Ripley greatly increased support for the scientific research programs at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. He also continued Secretary Leonard Carmichael’s efforts to improve the research climate for staff with increased funding for research grants, relationships with local universities, and a fellowship program. Ripley sought to increase diversity across the Institution, hiring the first female museum director and African American Assistant Secretary, and establishing programs to reach broader audiences. He welcomed Civil Rights and anti-war demonstrators who came to Washington, DC, into the Institution’s facilities, seeking to include new faces in the Smithsonian family. A dynamic fund-raiser, Ripley substantially increased both federal funding and the trust endowment, especially with revenues and donations.
Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn William B. Provine collection of evolutionary biology reprints, 20th century. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
creatorOf Bowman, Ruth, 1923-. WNYC Views on Art radio program interviews, 1967-1973. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn WHSF: Returned, 22-10 Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum
referencedIn President Gerald R. Ford's Daily Diary, January 28, 1975 Gerald R. Ford Library
referencedIn White House Bicentennial Task Force - Meetings (2) Gerald R. Ford Library
contributorOf 1974/08/30 SJR222 Appointment of Dr Murray Gell-Mann Gerald R. Ford Library
referencedIn Murphy, Robert Cushman, 1887-1973. Papers, ca. 1907-1973. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Dick, John Henry, 1919-1995. Correspondence c. 1920-1995. College of Charleston, Marlene and Nathan Addlestone Library
contributorOf Fourth of July (1976) - Schedules and Lists of Events (2) Gerald R. Ford Library
referencedIn President Gerald R. Ford's Daily Diary, October 03, 1975 Gerald R. Ford Library
referencedIn President Gerald R. Ford's Daily Diary, October 31, 1975 Gerald R. Ford Library
referencedIn 1980 Caribbean Islands NWR United States. National Archives and Records Administration
referencedIn Finley, David E. (David Edward). Papers of David E. Finley, 1921-1977. Library of Congress
creatorOf David R. Godine, Publisher. Records, 1965-1990. Getty Research Library
referencedIn Federal Agency Bicentennial Task Force - General Gerald R. Ford Library
contributorOf Fourth of July (1976) - National Air and Space Museum, 7/1/76 Gerald R. Ford Library
referencedIn THE BREAKFAST SHOW WITH NEWS, MIDDLE EAST WAR, SMITHSONIAN SECRETARY S. DILLON RIPLEY, INTERNATIONAL STUDENT FAIR United States. National Archives and Records Administration
creatorOf Richardson, Edgar Preston, 1902-. E.P. (Edgar Preston) Richardson papers, 1893-1994. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn [Hirschorn 25th Anniversary Reception - 10/12/99] William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum
creatorOf Sidney Dillon Ripley Interviews, 1977-1993 Smithsonian Institution Archives
referencedIn Copeland family. Papers, 1637-1998 (bulk, 1950-1998). Hagley Museum & Library
referencedIn DILLON RIPLEY, SECRETARY OF THE SMITHSONIAN, SPEAKING TO THE YALE CLUB United States. National Archives and Records Administration
referencedIn White House Press Releases (Ford Administration). 1974 - 1977. Press Releases. 1974 - 1977. Press Releases, April 1, 1976. 4/1/1976 - 4/1/1976. Guest List for the Reception to Be Given by the President and Mrs. Ford on the Occasion of the Presentation of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Arthur Rubinstein
referencedIn PRESS CONFERENCE USA WITH DOCTOR S. DILLON RIPLEY United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf Science and Technology Policy, Office of Gerald R. Ford Library
referencedIn United States Information Agency - America Illustrated Magazine, 1/76 (2) Gerald R. Ford Library
creatorOf Halle, Louis Joseph, 1910-. Papers of Louis Joseph Halle [manuscript], 1941-1995. University of Virginia. Library
contributorOf Records of the Office of the Staff Secretary. 1976 - 1981. Presidential Files. 1977 - 1981. 1/18/78 - Not Submitted, CF O/A 548
referencedIn District of Columbia Visitor Planning (1) Gerald R. Ford Library
contributorOf 1974/09/03 HR15842 Washington, D.C. Police Firemen and Teacher Pay (1) Gerald R. Ford Library
creatorOf Halle, Louis Joseph, 1910-. Papers of Louis J. Halle, 1963-1992. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Fourth of July (1976) - Honor America Program Gerald R. Ford Library
referencedIn Robert W. White papers, 1889-2003, bulk circa 1920s-2003 Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
referencedIn WHSF: Contested, 45-13 Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum
referencedIn Harvard University Archives Photograph Collection: Portraits, ca. 1852-ca. 2004 Harvard University Archives.
referencedIn President Gerald R. Ford's Daily Diary, July 01, 1976 Gerald R. Ford Library
referencedIn MR340 Sec. 2 Military Information, Collection, and Dissmeniation, 1944 - 1944 Franklin D. Roosevelt Library
contributorOf WASHINGTON POST BOOK AND AUTHOR LUNCHEON WITH SMITHSONIAN DIRECTOR DILLON RIPLEY AND FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE DEAN ACHESON United States. National Archives and Records Administration
referencedIn White House Press Releases (Ford Administration). 1974 - 1977. Press Releases. 1974 - 1977. Press Releases, May 8, 1975. 5/8/1975 - 5/8/1975. Guest List for the Dinner to Be Given by the President and Mrs. Ford in Honor of His Excellency the Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore and Mrs. Lee
creatorOf Smithsonian Institution. Letters, 1964-1983, to Lewis Mumford. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Opening of National Museum of Natural History exhibit "Royal gifts from the Kingdom of Thailand" National Anthropological Archives
contributorOf 1975/07/31 SJR41 Reappointment of Thomas J Watson, Jr. Gerald R. Ford Library
referencedIn Misc. Interagency Craft Committee, 1975 National Archives at Seattle (U.S.)
referencedIn Lawrence, Sidney, 1948-. Sidney S. Lawrence letters from Abram Lerner, 1985-2006. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn 1975/11/14 - First Ladies Book Presentation, White House Gerald R. Ford Library
contributorOf 1976/07/01 S2945 National Museum of Smithsonian Institution Gerald R. Ford Library
referencedIn Saint Vincent Island NWR, 1969 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
referencedIn Train, Russell E., 1920-. Russell E. Train papers, 1898-2005 (bulk 1957-2005). Library of Congress
referencedIn Exhibit - "The World of Franklin and Jefferson" (2) Gerald R. Ford Library
creatorOf Richardson, Edgar Preston, 1902-. E.P. (Edgar Preston) Richardson papers, 1893-1994. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn President Gerald R. Ford's Daily Diary, March 22, 1976 Gerald R. Ford Library
referencedIn Schedule Proposals (1) Gerald R. Ford Library
referencedIn Gould, Stephen Jay. Stephen Jay Gould papers, 1899-2004 (inclusive), 1941-2002 (bulk). Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
History Office Records, 1941 - 1946 United States. National Archives and Records Administration
referencedIn President Gerald R. Ford's Daily Diary, April 01, 1976 Gerald R. Ford Library
contributorOf 1976/05/11 HR10230 National Science and Technology Policy Organization and Priorities Act of 1976 (1) Gerald R. Ford Library
referencedIn Una Hanbury papers, 1910-1994 Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
referencedIn WHSF: Returned, 13-9 Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum
referencedIn Exhibit - "The World of Franklin and Jefferson" (3) Gerald R. Ford Library
referencedIn Russell E. Train Papers, 1898-2005, (bulk 1957-2005) Manuscript Division, Library of Congress
contributorOf 1974/08/30 SJR221 Reappointment of Dr Carlyl P Haskins Gerald R. Ford Library
referencedIn Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at the Dedication of the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Gerald R. Ford Library
referencedIn Kennedy Center Lyndon Baines Johnson Library
referencedIn Ripley, Dillon S. Gerald R. Ford Library
referencedIn White House Press Releases (Ford Administration). 1974 - 1977. Press Releases. 1974 - 1977. Press Releases, April 1, 1976. 4/1/1976 - 4/1/1976. Guest list for the reception to be given by the President and Mrs. Ford on the occasion of the Presentation of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Arthur Rubinstein
contributorOf 1974/10/26 SJR236 Indemnification for the Metropolitan Museum of Art Gerald R. Ford Library
referencedIn President Gerald R. Ford's Daily Diary, June 30, 1976 Gerald R. Ford Library
contributorOf THE BREAKFAST SHOW WITH NEWS, MIDDLE EAST WAR, SMITHSONIAN SECRETARY S. DILLON RIPLEY, INTERNATIONAL STUDENT FAIR United States. National Archives and Records Administration
referencedIn President Gerald R. Ford's Daily Diary, May 08, 1975 Gerald R. Ford Library
referencedIn Hanbury, Una, 1904-1990. Una Hanbury papers, 1910-1994, bulk 1966-1990. Smithsonian Institution. Libraries
referencedIn Geoffrey T. Hellman Papers, 1842-1971 Fales Library & Special Collections
referencedIn Stephen Jay Gould papers, 1899-2004, 1941-2002 Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Scrapbooks, 1962-1992. Connecticut Historical Society
referencedIn Nagel, Charles, 1899-1992. Charles Nagel papers, ca. 1927-1992. Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Robert W. White papers 1889-2003, bulk circa 1920s-2003 Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
referencedIn Photograph of First Lady Betty Ford with Designer Frankie Welch and S. Dillon Ripley at the Presentation of Her Gown to the First Ladies Collection at the Smithsonian Institution Gerald R. Ford Library
referencedIn NEW YORK NEW YORK #430: GUESTS: FRANK BRAYNARD OPERATION SAIL 76; S. DILLON RIPLEY OF SMITHSONIAN ON BICENTENNIAL United States. National Archives and Records Administration
referencedIn WHSF: Returned, 18-13 Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum
editorOf Participants of Meeting with Recipient of International Wildlife Conservation Prize [Meeting Attendee List] Gerald R. Ford Library
referencedIn JFK AIRCRAFT CAROLINE DONATED TO SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTE United States. National Archives and Records Administration
contributorOf 1975/07/31 SJR42 Reappointment of John Nicholas Brown Gerald R. Ford Library
referencedIn Robert Cushman Murphy journals, 1907-1971, 1907-1971 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Ripley, S. Dillon. Ripley, S. Dillon: Art World Personality Files. Whitney Museum of American Art, Library
referencedIn Shouse, Catherine Filene, 1896-1994. Papers, 1878-1998 (inclusive). Harvard University, Schlesinger Library
referencedIn Ripley, S. Dillon Gerald R. Ford Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Bowman, Ruth, 1923- person
associatedWith Collins, Michael, 1930- person
associatedWith Copeland family. family
associatedWith David R. Godine, Publisher. corporateBody
associatedWith Dick, John Henry, 1919-1995. person
associatedWith Finley, David E. (David Edward) person
associatedWith Ford, Gerald R., 1913-2006 person
associatedWith Gould, Stephen Jay. person
associatedWith Halle, Louis Joseph, 1910- person
associatedWith Hanbury, Una, 1904-1990. person
alumnusOrAlumnaOf Harvard university corporateBody
memberOf John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Lawrence, Sidney, 1948- person
correspondedWith Marsh, John O., 1926- person
associatedWith Murphy, Robert Cushman, 1887-1973. person
associatedWith Nagel, Charles, 1899-1992. person
associatedWith National Museum of Natural History (U.S.). Division of Birds corporateBody
associatedWith Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994 person
employeeOf Peabody Museum of Natural History. corporateBody
correspondedWith Provine, William B. person
associatedWith Richardson, Edgar Preston, 1902- person
correspondedWith Rommel, Wilfred H. (Wilfred Herzer), 1916- person
associatedWith Shouse, Catherine Filene, 1896-1994. person
associatedWith Smithsonian Institution. corporateBody
associatedWith Smithsonian Institution. Office of the Secretary. corporateBody
associatedWith Smithsonian Institution. Office of the Secretary. Consultant to the Secretary (Frank A. Taylor) corporateBody
associatedWith Smithsonian Institution. Office of the Secretary. Secretary's Executive Committee. corporateBody
associatedWith Smithsonian Institution. Office of the Secretary. Special Consultant to the Secretary (James C. Bradley). corporateBody
correspondedWith Train, Russell E., 1920- person
associatedWith Una Hanbury person
memberOf White House Historical Association corporateBody
associatedWith White, Robert person
associatedWith White, Robert, 1921-2002. person
associatedWith Whitney Museum of American Art. corporateBody
employeeOf Yale University. corporateBody
alumnusOrAlumnaOf Yale University. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Washington, D. C. DC US
New York City NY US
Washington, D. C. DC US
Subject
Smithsonian Institution
Wildlife conservation
Ornithology
Occupation
Ornithologists
Conservationists
Function

Person

Birth 1913-09-20

Death 2001-03-12

Americans

English

Information

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SNAC ID: 61914829