Joseph Henry Marries Harriet Alexander (1808-1882)




Date: May 3, 1830


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Joseph Henry (1797-1878), physicist, marries his cousin Harriet Alexander (1808-1882) at the Reformed Dutch Church in Schenectady, New York. The first mention of their engagement appears in a letter from Henry to Harriet's brother, Stephen Alexander, written December 5, 1829. She was the daughter of his maternal uncle, Alexander Alexander. Both sides of Joseph Henry's family were of Scottish descent and settled in upstate New York. They had four children: William Alexander (1832-1862), Mary Anna (1834-1903), Helen Louisa (1836-1912), and Caroline (1839-1920). In 1846, Henry would become the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.


  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Henry, Harriet A. 1808-1882
  • Alexander, Stephen
  • Henry, Caroline 1839-1920
  • Henry, Helen Louisa 1836-1912
  • Henry, William Alexander 1831-1862
  • Henry, Mary Anna 1834-1903


Chronology of Smithsonian History


Reingold, Nathan, ed. The Papers of Joseph Henry, The Albany Years, December 1797 - October 1832, vol. 1. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1972, pp. 251-54, 274.

Contact information

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


May 3, 1830


  • Births
  • Weddings


Schenectady (N.Y.)

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