Joseph Henry's Letter to Elias Loomis (January 18, 1856)

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  • Letter from Joseph Henry, first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, to Elias Loomis, a mathematician, January 18, 1856. In the letter, Henry discusses a letter he received from Lorin Blodget, a dismissed Smithsonian employee, and a possible complaint of injustice that Loomis might have mentioned to Loomis. Henry writes that if he has done any injustice towards Loomis he wishes to make right the issue. He notes that he has tried to conduct business of the Smithsonian based on principles of justice.
  • Acting under legal counsel, Joseph Henry discharged Lorin Blodget on October 11, 1854, by locking him out of his office. Blodget had been hired in December 1851 to reduce the meteorological data collected by the Smithsonian and to conduct the institution's correspondence with its volunteer weather observers. At the 1853 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Blodget had presented three papers that, in Henry's opinion, failed to give the Smithsonian due credit for providing the data Blodget had analyzed. When informed of his dismissal, Blodget refused to turn over a list of the Smithsonian's meteorological observers and his record of correspondence with them. Blodget would go on to publish a meteorological report for the Surgeon General's Office of the Army containing data for which, Henry insisted, the Smithsonian and its observers should have be credited.


  • Blodget, Lorin 1823-1901
  • Loomis, Elias
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • United States Surgeon-General's Office
  • Meteorological Project


Historic Images of the Smithsonian


1 page scanned from the edited transcript of the original version and notes in the Joseph Henry Papers Volume 9, page 308 (Document 176).

Contained within

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), 308

Contact information

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


January 18, 1856

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  • Secretaries
  • Letters
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • Personnel management
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  • Meteorology
  • Mathematicians
  • Smithsonian Institution--Employees


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  • Paper

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Number of Images: 1 ; Color: Black and White ; Size: 6 3/4w x 10h ; Type of Image: Document ; Medium: Paper

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