Joseph Henry's Letter to Louis Agassiz (August 13-28, 1864)

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Letter from Joseph Henry, first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, to Louis Agassiz, a geologist, paleontologist, and professor at Harvard University, August 13-28, 1864. In the letter, Henry discusses his recent meeting with Samuel Morse Felton, a civil engineer and railroad executive, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the information he received regarding the poor health of Agassiz. Henry advised Agassiz to take some personal time to return to health. He also mentions the discussion he had with Alexander Dallas Bache, a physicist, head of the United States Coast Survey, and Smithsonian Institution Regent, concerning the establishment of the National Academy of Sciences under the United States government and the reservations he had related to the matter. Henry states his dissatisfaction with the way members were chosen and officials elected.


  • Agassiz, Louis 1807-1873
  • Bache, A. D (Alexander Dallas) 1806-1867
  • National Academy of Sciences (U.S.)
  • Regents Smithsonian Institution
  • United States Coast Survey
  • Harvard University


Historic Images of the Smithsonian


6 pages scanned from the edited transcript of the original version and notes in the Joseph Henry Papers Volume 10, pages 395-400 (Document 222).

Contained within

Rothenberg, Marc, et al, eds., The Papers of Joseph Henry, Volume 10, The Smithsonian Years: January 1858-December 1865 (Smithsonian Institution in association with Science History Publications/USA, 2004), 395-400

Contact information

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


August 13-28, 1864

Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions


  • Railroads
  • Engineering
  • Geologists
  • Health
  • Paleontologists
  • Letters
  • Secretaries
  • Public officers
  • Physicists
  • Engineers


Philadelphia (Pa.)


  • Document
  • Paper

ID Number

SIA2012-3525 and SIA2012-3526 and SIA2012-3527 and SIA2012-3528 and SIA2012-3529 and SIA2012-3530

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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