Joseph Henry Achieves Faraday Effect

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Joseph Henry (1797-1878), physicist and professor at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), successfully repeats an experiment first described by Michael Faraday to the Council of the Royal Institution in London on November 5, 1845. Faraday had, for the first time, demonstrated a strong correlation between light and magnetism. This crucial discovery in nineteenth-century electromagnetism became known as the Faraday effect. Henry's research in this field had been repeatedly interrupted by his duties as a professor at the College of New Jersey. A year later, Henry would become the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, where his pursuit of basic research would be eclipsed by professional demands.


  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Faraday, Michael 1791-1867
  • Royal Institution of Great Britain


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Moyer, Albert. Joseph Henry: The Rise of an American Scientist. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1997, pp. 178-79.
  • Rothenberg, Marc, ed. The Papers of Joseph Henry, The Princeton Years, January 1844 - December 1846, vol. 6. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1992, 353-59, 649 (index entry).

Contact information

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


December 30, 1845


  • Science
  • Optics
  • Electromagnets
  • Magnetism
  • Experiments
  • Physics
  • Electromagnetism
  • Science--Experiments
  • Physics--Experiments

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