Earthquake Felt in Washington, D.C

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Several days after an earthquake shakes Washington, D.C., in 1852, Joseph Henry circulates a list of questions to members of the Smithsonian's network of weather observers living in range of the quake. He suggests that its direction and intensity could be determined by observing the stain left on the sides of a bowl "by molasses or any viscid liquid."


Henry, Joseph 1797-1878


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • A slightly expanded version of Henry's circular on earthquakes, printed in 1855, can be found at
  • Smithsonian Annual Report for 1852, Washington, D.C., p. 74.
  • New York Daily Times, April 30, 1852, p. 1.

Contact information

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


April 29, 1852


  • Earthquakes
  • Seismology
  • Memorandums


Washington (D.C.)

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