The correspondence between Lewis Henry Morgan and Joseph Henry

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This article describes a collection of 148 letters in the University of Rochester Library's manuscript collection. Much of this correspondence, between 19th century anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan and Smithsonian Secretary Joseph Henry, concerns the Smithsonian' s 1871 publication of Morgan's landmark work "Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Race." Although originally submitted to the Smithsonian in 1865, printing of the manuscript did not begin until 1868. As Morgan grew increasingly concerned about the lengthy review process to which his work was being subjected, his letters became more frequent and impatient. When Henry refused to dedicate the work to Morgan's deceased daughters, Morgan threatened to stop the Smithsonian from publishing it. Yet despite the tension this project created between Morgan and Henry, later correspondence shows they remained friends. The author also briefly discusses some earlier letters Henry sent to Morgan thanking him for writing about the Smithsonian in the Rochester Daily Democrat.


  • Morgan, Lewis Henry 1818-1881
  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge (Publication)


Smithsonian History Bibliography

Contained within

University of Rochester Library Bulletin 12:2 (Journal)

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,




  • Letters
  • Anthropology
  • Ethnology


  • United States
  • North America

Physical description

Number of pages: 6; Page numbers: 17-22

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