Joseph Henry Hired as Silversmithing and Watchmaking Apprentice in Albany, New York

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Joseph Henry returns to Albany, New York, after living with his uncle's family in Galway, New York for about ten years. A paternal cousin, William Selkirk, hires Henry as a silversmithing and watchmaking apprentice. Henry works in this field for the next two years, later commenting that it was through this experience that he developed "skill in manipulation & some knowledge of metals." In 1846, Henry would become the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.


Henry, Joseph 1797-1878


Chronology of Smithsonian History


Moyer, Albert. Joseph Henry: The Rise of an American Scientist. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1997, p. 20-21.

Contact information

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




  • Apprenticeship
  • Biography


Albany (N.Y.)

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