Joseph Henry's Letter to Harriet Henry (December 28, 1836)

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Letter from Joseph Henry, first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, to Harriet Henry, his wife, December 28, 1836. In the letter, Henry discusses his trip through the Northeast including New York, New York, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington, DC. He details his visit to the Baltimore Museum and Gallery of Fine Arts, and his tour of the Capitol building in Washington. He goes on to state his distaste for the architecture of the capital. Henry also mentions listening to a debate in the United States Congress that involved John Quincy Adams, former President of United States and then a Representative for Massachusetts, and coming into contact with John C. Calhoun, former Vice President of United States and then a Senator for South Carolina, and Martin Van Buren, then Vice President and later President of the United States, during his visit. Henry also writes about his trip to the White House.


  • Adams, John Quincy 1767-1848
  • Henry, Harriet A. 1808-1882
  • Calhoun, John C (John Caldwell) 1782-1850
  • Van Buren, Martin 1782-1862
  • White House (Washington, D.C.)
  • United States Congress
  • United States. Office of the Vice President
  • Baltimore Museum of Art
  • United States Capitol (Washington, D.C.)
  • United States President
  • Joseph Henry Papers Project


Historic Images of the Smithsonian


  • The accompanying PDF contains SIA2012-2694, SIA2012-2695, and SIA2012-2696, which are pages scanned from the edited transcript of the original version and notes in the Joseph Henry Papers Volume 3, pages 133-135.
  • This document is a copy of the original made by Mary Henry.

Contained within

  • Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7001, Box 57, Folder: 4 - 1835-1836
  • Reingold, Nathan, et al, eds., The Papers of Joseph Henry, Volume 3, The Princeton Years: January 1836-December 1837 (Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1979), 133-135

Contact information

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


December 28, 1836

Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions


  • Legislators
  • Architecture
  • Letters
  • Secretaries
  • Debates


  • United States
  • Massachusetts
  • Philadelphia (Pa.)
  • Baltimore (Md.)
  • South Carolina
  • Washington (D.C.)
  • New York (N.Y.)


  • Document
  • Paper

ID Number

SIA2012-3542 and SIA2012-3543 and SIA2012-3544 and SIA2012-3545

Physical description

Number of Images: 4; Color: Color; Size: 7 3/4w x 11 1/4h; Type of Image: Document; Medium: Paper

Full Record

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