Joseph Henry's Letter to Edward Hitchcock (January 27, 1832)

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Letter from Joseph Henry, then a teacher at the Albany Academy and later first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, to Edward Hitchcock, a geologist and professor at Amherst College, January 27, 1832. In the letter, Henry describes the magnet that he constructed for Benjamin Silliman. Shortly after completing an article on his electromagnet for Benjamin Silliman's "American Journal of Science," Joseph Henry began making a large electromagnet for Silliman to demonstrate to his students at Yale University, c. 1830s. The 82.5 -pound magnet proved capable of supporting more than 2,000 pounds.


  • Silliman, Benjamin 1816-1885
  • Hitchcock, Edward
  • Albany Academy
  • Yale University
  • Amherst College


Historic Images of the Smithsonian


The accompanying PDF contains SIA2012-0936, SIA2012-0937, and SIA2012-0938, which are pages scanned from the edited transcript of the original version and notes in the Joseph Henry Papers Volume 1, pages 400-402.

Contained within

  • Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7001, Box 7, Folder: 9 - January-March 1832
  • Reingold, Nathan, et al, eds., The Papers of Joseph Henry, Volume 1, The Albany Years: December 1797-October 1832 (Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1972), 400-402

Contact information

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


January 27, 1832

Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions


  • Electric apparatus and appliances
  • Scientific apparatus and instruments
  • Secretaries
  • Letters
  • Inventions
  • Science
  • Electromagnets
  • Educators
  • Experiments
  • Electromagnetism
  • Teachers
  • Electromagnet
  • Science--Experiments


United States


  • Document
  • Paper

ID Number

SIA2012-2941 and SIA2012-2942 and SIA2012-2943

Physical description

Number of Images: 3 ; Color: Color ; Size: 7 3/4w x 9 3/4h ; Type of Image: Document ; Medium: Paper

Full Record

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