Daryl Baldwin learned about the Smithsonian’s National Anthropological Archives when he was trying to find out more about his Native American heritage and the language of his tribe, the Miami of Oklahoma.

He was 28 and working construction in Ohio when he came across some Miami words his late grandfather had written in his personal papers. Baldwin knew nothing of the language except some ancestral names, but the words piqued his interest. There were no Miami speakers left, but a friend mentioned the archives, an immense hoard of recorded voices, documents and other materials describing more than 250 languages from all over the world.

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