Joseph Henry's Letter to Asa Gray (March 22, 1870)

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

Narrow Your Results


Filter Your Results

Smithsonian Secretaries Information

Close Browse records and papers of the Smithsonian Secretaries, from 1846 until today. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by individuals who have held that office.

Expeditions Information

Close Browse records and papers documenting scientific and collecting expeditions either affiliated with the Smithsonian, or with which Smithsonian researchers participated. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by geographic regions predominantly represented in expedition records.

Professional Societies Information

Close Browse records of professional societies closely associated with the Smithsonian, that focus on areas of scientific research and museum studies. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by major topics and disciplines.


Letter from Joseph Henry, first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, to Asa Gray, a Harvard University botanist, May 22, 1870. In the letter, Henry discusses the finishing of a report concerning forest trees by Gray. He states that the National Academy of Sciences will be supported by funds left at his death by Alexander Dallas Bache, a close friend of Henry's and Smithsonian Regent, amounting to 50,000 dollars. Henry discusses two new organizations that were formed to combat the National Academy: the National Institute for the Promotion of Science, and the American Union Academy of Arts, Literature, and Sciences. He expresses his fear that the Washington, DC, based American Union Academy will try and obtain the Smithsonian funds once he departs the position of Secretary, and that the Institute will become a political organization.


  • Bache, A. D (Alexander Dallas) 1806-1867
  • Gray, Asa 1810-1888
  • National Academy of Sciences (U.S.)
  • Regents Smithsonian Institution
  • Harvard University
  • National Institute for the Promotion of Science


Historic Images of the Smithsonian


5 pages scanned from the edited transcript of the original version and notes in the Joseph Henry Papers Volume 11, pages 283-287 (Document 138).

Contained within

Rothenberg, Marc, et al, eds., The Papers of Joseph Henry, Volume 11, The Smithsonian Years: January 1866-May 1878 (Smithsonian Institution in association with Science History Publications/USA, 2007), 283-287

Contact information

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


March 22, 1870

Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions


  • Trees
  • Political science
  • Letters
  • Secretaries
  • Botany
  • Deaths
  • Reports
  • Forests and forestry
  • Funds
  • Botanists


Washington (D.C.)


  • Document
  • Paper

ID Number

SIA2012-3100 and SIA2012-3101 and SIA2012-3102 and SIA2012-3103 and SIA2012-3104

Physical description

Number of Images: 5 ; Color: Black and White ; Size: 6 3/4w x 10h; Type of Image: Document ; Medium: Paper

Full Record

View Full Record