Joseph Henry's Letter to George Maxwell Robeson (June 9, 1871)

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Letter from Joseph Henry, first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, to George Maxwell Robeson, Secretary of the Navy, June 9, 1871. In the letter, Henry discusses an expedition to the Arctic Circle that is to be lead by Captain Charles F. Hall, and submits his remarks and suggestions on behalf of the National Academy of Sciences. He notes that, though the primary purpose of the expedition isn't purely scientific, it should involve a member of the scientific community to conduct research and help collect natural specimens. Dr. Emil Bessels, of Hiedlberg, Germany, volunteered to take part in the excursion, and some assistants were also chosen to accompany him and Captain Hall's team. Commenced on June 10, 1871, the expedition was hampered by the death of Hall and damage to the vessel by ice, and only a small number of the specimens collected were brought back by Bessels.


  • Bessels, Emil 1847-1888
  • Hall, Charles Francis 1821-1871
  • Robeson, George M (George Maxwell) 1829-1897
  • National Academy of Sciences (U.S.)
  • United States. Secretary of the Navy
  • Arctic Expedition


Historic Images of the Smithsonian


6 pages scanned from the edited transcript of the original version and notes in the Joseph Henry Papers Volume 11, pages 351-356 (Document 165).

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), 351-356

Contact information

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


June 9, 1871

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  • Letters
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ID Number

SIA2012-3132 and SIA2012-3133 and SIA2012-3134 and SIA2012-3135 and SIA2012-3136 and SIA2012-3137

Physical description

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

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