William J. Rhees

ID: SIA2011-1376 or 83-16174

Creator: Unknown

Form/Genre: Portraits

Date: c. 1860s

Citation: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 95, Box 27E, Folder: Rhees

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William J. Rhees (1830-1907) was hired in 1853 as a "general assistant" and private secretary to Joseph Henry, the first secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, and by 1855 he held the position of chief clerk. He left the Institution in 1870 to pursue the stationery business in Springfield (state unspecified) but was gone less than a year. He continued as chief clerk under Spencer F. Baird, the second secretary of the Smithsonian, and by a special act of Congress served as acting secretary of the Institution when Baird was absent. After Baird's death and Samuel P. Langley's appointment as third secretary of the Smithsonian, Rhees was asked to take the position of the first keeper of the Archives in 1891 which is when the Smithsonian Institution Archives had its real origins. Rhees served in that post until his death in 1907. He was also a member of the National Museum Building Committee.


  • Rhees, William Jones 1830-1907
  • National Museum Building Committee


Historic Images of the Smithsonian

Contained within

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 95, Box 27E, Folder: Rhees

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520, SIHistory@si.edu


c. 1860s

Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions


  • Assistant Secretaries
  • Archivists
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • Personnel management
  • Chief Clerk
  • Employees
  • Smithsonian Institution--Employees


  • Portraits
  • Card photograph

ID Number

SIA2011-1376 or 83-16174

Physical description

Number of Images: 1 ; Color: Sepia ; Size: 2.5w x 4.25h ; Type of Image: Portrait; Medium: Card Photograph

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