Joseph Henry's Letter to Alexander Bache (July 30, 1864)

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Letter from Joseph Henry, first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, to his close friend Alexander Bache, a physicist, head of the United States Coast Survey, and Smithsonian Institution Regent, July 30, 1864. In the letter, Henry informs Bache of the activities of the Lighthouse Board, the Permanent Naval Commission, a committee to evaluate naval inventions proposed during the Civil War of which they were both members, and the Smithsonian Institution. Henry also describes the progress of inventor Solomon Andrews' ballooning experiments, which he had recommended to the Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton, for use in Civil War aerial reconnaissance. During the Civil War (1861-1865), Henry served as a scientific advisor to President Abraham Lincoln.


  • Bache, A. D (Alexander Dallas) 1806-1867
  • Andrews, Solomon 1806-1872
  • Stanton, Edwin McMasters 1814-1869
  • Regents Smithsonian Institution
  • Board of Regents
  • United States Light House Board
  • United States Navy
  • United States. Secretary of War
  • Permanent Commission of the Navy


Historic Images of the Smithsonian


The accompanying PDF contains SIA2012-0042 and SIA2012-0043, which are pages scanned from the edited transcript of the original version and notes in the Joseph Henry Papers Volume 10, pages 390-391 (Document 220).

Contained within

  • Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7053, Box 4, Folder: 9 - Incoming Correspondence 1821-1866
  • Rothenberg, Marc, et al, eds., The Papers of Joseph Henry, Volume 10, The Smithsonian Years: January 1858-December 1865 (Smithsonian Institution in association with Science History Publications/USA, 2004), 390-391

Contact information

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


  • July 30, 1864
  • Civil War, 1861-1865

Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions


  • Aerial reconnaissance
  • Balloons (Aircraft)
  • Secretaries
  • Letters
  • Inventions
  • Aeronautics
  • Science
  • Communications, Military
  • Physicists
  • History
  • Experiments
  • Ballooning
  • Aerial reconnaissance, American


United States


  • Document
  • Paper

ID Number

SIA2012-1969 and SIA2012-1970 and SIA2012-1971

Physical description

  • Number of Images: 3 ; Color: Color ; Size: 5w x 8h ; Type of Image: Document ; Medium: Paper
  • Number of Transcript Images: 2 ; Color: Black and White ; Size: 7w x 10h ; Type of Image: Document ; Medium: Paper

Full Record

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