Joseph Henry Builds Large Electromagnet for Bowdoin College

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After publishing an article in Silliman's American Journal of Science on the large electromagnet he constructed for Professor Benjamin Silliman at Yale College, Joseph Henry receives numerous requests for electromagnets, most of which he turns down. He makes an exception for Parker Cleaveland, Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at Bowdoin College, charging him $45. to cover the cost of materials and shipping. In 1846, Henry would become the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.


  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Silliman, Benjamin 1816-1885
  • Cleaveland, Parker 1780-1858


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. 373, 375-378, 402-404, 413, 420-426, 432-433.

Contact information

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


December 1831


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

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