Joseph Henry's Letter to Alexander Agassiz (February 6, 1874)

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Letter from Joseph Henry, first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, to Alexander Agassiz, a scientist and engineer, February 6, 1874. In the letter, Henry discusses his intention to resign as President of the National Academy of Sciences. He writes that his duties as Secretary of the Smithsonian, Chairman of the United States Light House Board, and a new appointment as a Trustee at the Corcoran Gallery of Art have left him little time to advance the mission of the Academy. Henry also discusses publishing the report on Brazilian fish, which had been collected during an expedition of Johann Baptist von Spix and Carl Friedrich Philipp von Martius, both German natural scientists, by Alexander's father, Louis Agassiz, a Swiss paleontologist, glaciologist, and geologist.


  • Von Martius, C. F. P
  • Agassiz, Alexander
  • Agassiz, Louis 1807-1873
  • National Academy of Sciences (U.S.)
  • Corcoran Gallery of Art
  • United States Light House Board


Historic Images of the Smithsonian


The accompanying PDF contains SIA2012-3138, SIA2012-3139, and SIA2012-3140, which are pages scanned from the edited transcript of the original version and notes in the Joseph Henry Papers Volume 11, pages 489-491 (Document 226).

Contained within

  • Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 33, Box 14, Folder: Volume 37
  • 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), 489-491

Contact information

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


February 6, 1874

Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions


  • Engineering
  • Publishers and publishing
  • Geologists
  • Paleontologists
  • Secretaries
  • Fishes
  • Letters
  • Collectors and collecting
  • Reports
  • Expeditions
  • Scientists
  • Naturalists
  • Engineers


  • Brazil
  • Switzerland
  • Germany


  • Document
  • Paper

ID Number

SIA2012-6804 and SIA2012-6805 and SIA2012-6806 and SIA2012-6807

Physical description

Number of Images: 4; Color: Color; Size: 10.00w x 7.77h; Type of Image: Document; Medium: Paper

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