For those not familiar with Joseph Henry, go to the introductory articles on some of the areas where he had a lasting impact (for example, anthropology, basic research in science, education, and meteorology). You will also find a reading list in the introductory section.
For fun, as well as a sense of Henry's influence, see the list of things named after Henry.
Although Henry was a scientist, his experiments led to a number of key nineteenth-century inventions and he gave critical advice to inventors. To learn more about this topic, see the three articles and the exhibit below:
Henry initially questioned the wisdom of transferring the national collections to the care of the Smithsonian Institution. See the article "Henry and the National Museum."
The Civil War posed a severe threat to the Smithsonian. The challenges Henry faced during the war are analyzed in "'Interruptions and Embarrassments': The Smithsonian during the Civil War."
See this exhibit on Henry's years at the Smithsonian.
For an explanation of the significance of Henry's papers, see the article by physicist Frederick Seitz.
Click here to see some samples of documents published in
The Papers of Joseph Henry, including letters, laboratory notes, and a diary entry.
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