Joseph Henry Seeks Support for Kane's Arctic Expedition




Date: December 1, 1852


Usage Conditions Apply
The Smithsonian Institution Archives welcomes personal and educational use of its collections unless otherwise noted. For commercial uses, please contact
Request permissionsDownload image Print


First Smithsonian Secretary Joseph Henry and Coast Survey Superintendent Alexander Dallas Bache ask Navy Secretary John Pendleton Kennedy to support Elisha Kent Kane's proposed expedition to the Arctic. As a result, Kane is assigned to carry out the scientific work recommended by Henry and Bache with the assistance of a naturalist and an astronomer. The Smithsonian provides the expedition with apparatus for capturing and preserving marine specimens and for recording magnetic observations. Kane's observations are later published in volumes 10-13 of Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge.


  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Kane, Elisha Kent 1820-1857
  • Bache, A. D (Alexander Dallas) 1806-1867
  • Kennedy, John Pendleton 1795-1870
  • United States. Secretary of the Navy
  • United States Coast Survey
  • Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge (Publication)
  • Arctic Expedition
  • National Collections


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Photograph of Elisha Kent Kane in Arctic gear is by an unknown photographer, c. 1855. National Portrait Gallery, image number NPG.2005.38.
  • Kazar, John Dryden, The United States Navy and Scientific Exploration, 1837-1860 (Ph.D diss., The University of Massachusetts, 1973); SR 1854, p. 92.
  • Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian for the year 1854, p. 92.
  • Joseph Henry and Alexander Dallas Bache Letter to John Pendleton Kennedy, December 1, 1852, document 249 in The Papers of Joseph Henry, Volume 8, The Smithsonian Years: January 1850-December 1853, Marc Rothenberg, et al, eds. (Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1998), pp. 408-410.

Contact information

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


December 1, 1852


  • Marine Biology
  • Scientific expeditions
  • Scientific apparatus and instruments
  • Astronomers
  • Collectors and collecting
  • Specimens
  • Magnetism
  • Magnetic fields
  • Naturalists
  • Arctic
  • Marine biology

Full Record

View Full Record