Solomon G. Brown (1829-1906) was the first African American to work at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. Hired in 1852 as a laborer, Brown held a number of different roles at the Institution during the 54-year he worked there. Though he lacked a formal education, the self-taught naturalists eventually became a sought-after lecturer and illustrator, as well as a philosopher and poet. Outside of work, Brown worked to improve the lives of African Americans his community. After the Civil War, he founded several schools and churches in the area and served in the D.C. House of Delegates.
Photo: Solomon G. Brown, 1891, Smithsonian Institution Archives (photographer unknown)