Joseph Henry Builds Electromagnet for Penfield & Taft Ironworks

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Penfield & Taft, owners of an iron forge in Crownpoint (later Ironville), New York, request that Joseph Henry build an electromagnet for separating iron from ore. Henry's electromagnet for Penfield & Taft is the first known industrial application of electricity. In 1846, Henry would become the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.


Henry, Joseph 1797-1878


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. 340-41, 346

Contact information

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


June-July 1831


  • Electric apparatus and appliances
  • Electricity
  • Inventors
  • Scientific apparatus and instruments
  • Inventions
  • Electromagnets
  • Iron
  • Electromagnet
  • New York (State)


New York (State)

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