William J. Rhees

ID: SIA2011-1377

Creator: Unknown

Form/Genre: Card photograph

Date: c. 1880

Citation: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 95, Box 27E, Folder: Rhees

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The Smithsonian Institution Archives welcomes personal and educational use of its collections unless otherwise noted. For commercial uses, please contact photos@si.edu.
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William J. Rhees (1830-1907) was hired in 1853 as a "general assistant" and private secretary to Joseph Henry, the Smithsonian Institution's first Secretary, and by 1855 held the position of chief clerk. He left the Institution in 1870 to pursue the stationery business in Springfield (state unspecified) but was only gone less than a year. He continued as chief clerk under Spencer F. Baird, the Smithsonian Institution's second Secretary, and by a special act of Congress served as acting secretary of the Institution when Baird was absent. After Baird's death and Samuel P. Langley's appointment as secretary, Rhees was asked to take the position of the first keeper of the Archives in 1891, which is when the Smithsonian Institution Archives had its real origins. Rhees served in that post until his death in 1907. He was also a member of the National Museum Building Committee.


  • Rhees, William Jones 1830-1907
  • National Museum Building Committee


Historic Images of the Smithsonian

Contained within

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 95, Box 27E, Folder: Rhees

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520, SIHistory@si.edu


c. 1880

Restrictions & Rights

  • No restrictions
  • No restrictions


  • Archivists
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • Personnel management
  • Chief Clerk
  • Employees
  • Smithsonian Institution--Employees


  • Card photograph
  • Portraits

ID Number


Physical description

Number of Images: 1 ; Color: Sepia ; Size: 4.25w x 6.5h ; Type of Image: Portrait; Medium: Card Photograph

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