Joseph Henry Constructs Large Electromagnet for Yale College Professor Benjamin Silliman




Date: January 15, 1831


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Shortly after completing an article on his electromagnet for Benjamin Silliman's Journal of American Science, Joseph Henry begins making a large electromagnet for Silliman to demonstrate to his students at Yale University. The 82.5 -pound magnet proves capable of supporting more than 2,000 pounds. In 1846, Henry would become the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.


  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Silliman, Benjamin 1816-1885
  • Yale University


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Henry constructed this magnet based on principles outlined in a paper published in Silliman's Journal of American Science in January, 1831. For full text and illustrations, see The magnet was described in the April edition of Silliman's Journal (
  • 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. 319-2.
  • Scientific Writings of Joseph Henry. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, Vol. 30. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1887, pp. 37-53.

Contact information

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


January 15, 1831


  • Electric apparatus and appliances
  • Inventors
  • Scientific apparatus and instruments
  • Inventions
  • Electromagnets
  • Electromagnet
  • Electromagnetism
  • Electromagnetic Induction

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