Joseph Henry's Letter to Harriet Henry (September 4, 1856)

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


  • Letter from Joseph Henry, first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, to Harriet Henry, his wife, September 4, 1856. In the letter, Henry discusses the work of the United States Light House Board. He writes about the commission of two new light houses, including one in the Bahama Islands. He also mentions the upcoming publication of the Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for 1855.
  • Joseph Henry, first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, was appointed to the newly-established United States Light-House Board on September 25, 1852, serving as one of two civilian scientists. Alexander Dallas Bache, a physicist, head of the United States Coast Survey and Smithsonian Institution Regent, was the other civilian appointment. Henry would become Chairman of the Light-House Board in 1871, and would serve until is death in 1878.


  • Bache, A. D (Alexander Dallas) 1806-1867
  • Regents Smithsonian Institution
  • United States Coast Survey
  • Smithsonian Year
  • United States Light House Board


Historic Images of the Smithsonian


  • Since the letter was folded and then flattened for conservation the following list shows what pages the negative numbers represent: SIA2012-2836 is pages 1 and 4, SIA2012-2837 is pages 2 and 3, SIA2012-2838 is pages 5 and8, SIA2012-2839 is pages 6 and 7.
  • The accompanying PDF contains SIA2012-3311 and SIA2012-3312, which are pages scanned from the edited transcript of the original version and notes in the Joseph Henry Papers Volume 9, pages 389-390 (Document 220).

Contained within

  • Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7001, Box 57, Folder: 16 - 1853-1857
  • Rothenberg, Marc, et al, eds., The Papers of Joseph Henry, Volume 9, The Smithsonian Years: January 1854-December 1857 (Smithsonian Institution in association with Science History Publications/USA, 2002), 389-390

Contact information

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


September 4, 1856

Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions


  • Letters
  • Secretaries
  • Lighthouses




  • Document
  • Paper

ID Number

SIA2012-2836 and SIA2012-2837 and SIA2012-2838 and SIA2012-2839

Physical description

Number of Images: 8; Color: Color; Size: 5 1/2w x 8 1/2h; Type of Image: Document; Medium: Paper

Full Record

View Full Record