Leslie K. Overstreet

Curator of Natural-History Rare Books

Leslie K. Overstreet earned a B.A. in English Literature from Reed College (Portland, Oregon) in 1971 and a Master of Arts in Teaching (also from Reed, 1972) and held jobs as a teacher and a writer/editor before joining the Smithsonian Libraries (SIL) in 1980. Initially staffing the anthropology and vertebrate zoology libraries in the National Museum of Natural History, she earned an M.L.S. degree in rare-books librarianship at the University of Maryland and has worked in SIL’s Special Collections Department since 1988. As the Curator of Natural-History Rare Books, she has headed SIL’s Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History since it opened in 2002.

Her work includes assisting readers, answering reference questions, and giving tours of the collection; she oversees the Cullman's participation in the Biodiversity Heritage Library (www.biodiversitylibrary.org),SIL's Adopt-a-Book program, and a wide variety of outreach and development events.  She works with SIL conservators to preserve the collection and with the scientists and historians whose research SIL supports to build and strengthen it.

Her own research has focused for many years on Mark Catesby’s Natural history of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands (London, 1731-1743).She served as a consultant to the documentary film “The curious Mr. Catesby,” produced by the Catesby Commemorative Trust and broadcast on public-television stations across the U.S. in 2009, and presented the results of her research on the printing history of Catesby’s book at the 2012 Catesby Tercentennial Conference, which was subsequently published as a chapter in The curious Mister Catesby (University of Georgia Press, 2015). 


Overstreet, Leslie K. 2008. Botanicals New York: Assouline. 300 pages.

Wells, Ellen B. and Overstreet, Leslie K. 1995. Rare books and special collections in the Smithsonian Institution Libraries Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution. 108 pages.

Chapters in books

Overstreet, Leslie K. 2015. The publication of Mark Catesby's The natural history of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama islands. Chap.12. In: The curious Mister Catesby , edited by E. Charles Nelson and David J. Elliott. Athens GA: University of Georgia Press, 2015.

Inscribed copy of Animal life on the shores of the Clyde and Firth Overstreet, Leslie K. 2013 DOI: info:10.3366/anh.2013.0182 Archives of Natural History v. 40 No. 2

Overstreet, Leslie K. 2013. Flowering pages. In: Warren, Arete S., Gardening by the book: Celebrating 100 years of the Garden Club of America. New York: The Garden Club of America & The Grolier Club, pp.12-17.

Overstreet, Leslie K. 2012. Foreword. In: Kiser, Joy M., America's other Audubon. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, pp.

Dickinson, Edward C. and Overstreet, Leslie K. 2011. Our approach (historical and technical background). Chap.2. In: Dickinson, Edward C., Overstreet, Leslie K., Dowsett, Robert J. and Bruce, Murray D., Priority! The dating of scientific names in ornithology: A directory to the literature and its reviewers.. Northampton, U.K.: Aves Press Ltd, pp.25-67.

Journal articles

Overstreet, Leslie K. 2014. The dates of the parts of Mark Catesby's The natural history of Carolina… . (London, 1731–1743 [1729–1747]). Archives of Natural History, 41(2): 362-364. doi:10.3366/anh.2014.0256

Overstreet, Leslie K. 2013. Inscribed copy of Animal life on the shores of the Clyde and Firth. Archives of Natural History, 40(2): 351 doi:10.3366/anh.2013.0182

Dickinson, Edward C., David, Normand, Overstreet, Leslie K., Steinheimer, Frank D. and Jansen, Justin. 2010. Histoire naturelle des pigeons or Les pigeons: Coenraad Jacob Temminck versus Pauline Knip. Archives of Natural History, 37(2): 203-220. doi:10.3366/anh.2010.0003

The library of James Smithson, gentleman-scientist Overstreet, Leslie K. 2009 Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies v. XIII No. 1

Overstreet, Leslie K. 2009. The library of James Smithson, gentleman-scientist. Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies, XIII(1): 12-13 (and cover illustration).

Olson, Storrs L., Overstreet, Leslie K. and Lund, J. N. 2007. An alca-bibliographical study of The English Pilot: the history of its account of the great auk (Alcidae: Pinguinus impennis). Archives of Natural History, 34(1): 79-86. doi:10.3366/anh.2007.34.1.79

[Book review:] American curiosity: Cultures of natural history in the colonial British Atlantic world, by S.S. Parrish Overstreet, Leslie K. 2007 DOI: info:10.3366/anh.2007.34.2.361 Archives of Natural History v. 34 No. 2

Overstreet, Leslie K. 2007. [Book review:] American curiosity: Cultures of natural history in the colonial British Atlantic world, by S.S. Parrish. Archives of Natural History, 34(2): 361-362. doi:10.3366/anh.2007.34.2.361

Two New Species of Symbiotic Ciliates from the Respiratory Tract of Cetaceans with Establishment of the New Genus Planilamina n. gen. (Dysteriida, Kyaroikeidae) Ma, Hongwei Overstreet, Robin M. Sniezek, James H. Solangi, Mobashir Coats, D. Wayne 2006 DOI: info:10.1111/j.1550-7408.2006.00124.x Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology v. 53 No. 6

Natural-history rare books at the Smithsonian Institution Overstreet, Leslie K. 2006 The Eighteenth-Century Intelligencer v. N.S. 20 No. 2

Overstreet, Leslie K. 2006. Natural-history rare books at the Smithsonian Institution. The Eighteenth-Century Intelligencer, N.S. 20(2): 4-12.

Wheldon & Wesley card index donated to Smithsonian Institution Libraries Overstreet, Leslie K. 2006 DOI: info:10.3366/anh.2006.33.1.172 Archives of Natural History v. 33 No. 1

Overstreet, Leslie K. 2006. Wheldon & Wesley card index donated to Smithsonian Institution Libraries. Archives of Natural History, 33(1): 176 doi:10.3366/anh.2006.33.1.172

Dorr, Laurence J., Nicolson, Dan H. and Overstreet, Leslie K. 2003. Bibliographic notes on H. Stansbury's Exploration and survey of .../ Expedition to the valley of the Great Salt Lake. Archives of Natural History, 30(2): 317-330.

SIL online essays (for digital editions)

Overstreet, Leslie K. 2004. The publications of the U.S. Exploring Expedition, 1844-1874. Introduction and bibliographic description.

Overstreet, Leslie K. 2002. Lionel Walter Rothschild- The Avifauna of Laysan (1893-1900). Introduction and bibliographic description.

Overstreet, Leslie K. and Zaharek, Kathryn E. 2001. François Nicolas Martinet. Ornithologie = Histoire des Oiseaux Peints dans Tous Leurs Aspects Apparents et Sensibles ]....Introduction and bibliographical description. http://www.sil.si.edu/DigitalCollections/NHRareBooks/Martinet/martinet-introduction.htm

Overstreet, Leslie K. 2000. Johann Baptist von Spix: Simiarum et Vespertilionum Brasiliensium Species Novae (1823): Introduction and bibliographical description. http://www.sil.si.edu/DigitalCollections/NHRareBooks/Spix/spix-introduction.htm

Overstreet, Leslie K. 2000. Romanus Adolph Hedwig: Observationum Botanicarum (1802): Introduction and bibliographical description. http://www.sil.si.edu/DigitalCollections/NHRareBooks/Hedwig/hedwig-introduction.htm

Overstreet, Leslie K. 1999. José Dionisio Larreátegui: Description Botanique du Chiranthodendron (1805): Introduction and bibliographical description. http://www.sil.si.edu/DigitalCollections/NHRareBooks/Larreategui/larreategui-introduction.htm

Overstreet, Leslie K. 1999. Joachim Johann Nepomuk Spalowsky - Prodromus in systema historicum testaceorum (1795 1801 issue]): Introduction and bibliographical description. http://www.sil.si.edu/DigitalCollections/NHRareBooks/Spalowsky/spalowsky-intro-overstreet.htm

Overstreet, Leslie K. 1998. Jakob Sturm: Verzeichniss meiner Insecten-Sammlung (1796). Introduction and bibliographical description http://www.sil.si.edu/DigitalCollections/NHRareBooks/Sturm/sturm-introduction.htm

SIL online exhibitions

Overstreet, Leslie K. 2002. Wonder bound: Rare books on early museums. http://www.sil.si.edu/exhibitions/wonderbound/



Overstreet, Leslie K., Mcburney, Henrietta, and Gaskell, Roger. 2023. "A variant issue of Mark Catesby's Natural history of Carolina (volume 1, issued 1729–1732) given to John Bartram." Archives of Natural History, 50, (1) 177–190. https://doi.org/10.3366/anh.2023.0836.

Overstreet, Leslie K., Taylor, M. A., and O'Connor, R. 2021. "Dating the publication of Hugh Miller's The testimony of the rocks (1857)." Archives of Natural History, 48, (2) 310–324. https://doi.org/10.3366/anh.2021.0724.

Overstreet, Leslie K. 2019. "Editor's Note." The Ecphora: Quarterly Newsletter of the Calvert Marine Museum Fossil Club, 34, (3) 21–21.

Overstreet, Leslie K. 2015. "The publication of Mark Catesby's "Natural history of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands"." In The curious Mister Catesby. Nelson, E. Charles and Elliott, David J., editors. 155–172. Athens GA and London: University of Georgia Press.