Joseph Henry's Letter to Louis Agassiz (November 12, 1872)

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Letter from Joseph Henry, first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, to Louis Agassiz, a Swiss paleontologist, glaciologist, and geologist, November 12, 1872. In the letter, Henry lists upcoming United States House of Representatives appropriation hearings and duties related to the Smithsonian and Light House Board as keeping him from accepting Agassiz's invitation to stay with him in Cambridge, Massachusetts, during the upcoming meeting of the National Academy of Sciences. He writes about a growing interest in the physical sciences being displayed by the United States Congress as indicated by their most recent appropriations, and that Washington, DC, may soon be as vibrant a center of science as it is politics.


  • Agassiz, Louis 1807-1873
  • United States Congress House
  • National Academy of Sciences (U.S.)
  • United States Congress
  • United States Light House Board


Historic Images of the Smithsonian


The accompanying PDF contains SIA2012-3117, SIA2012-3118, and SIA2012-3119, which are pages scanned from the edited transcript of the original version and notes in the Joseph Henry Papers Volume 11, pages 428-430 (Document 200).

Contained within

  • Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7001, Box 4A, Folder: 1
  • 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), 428-430

Contact information

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


November 12, 1872

Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions


  • Political science
  • Geologists
  • Meetings
  • Paleontologists
  • Secretaries
  • Letters
  • Physical sciences
  • Science
  • Expenditures, Public
  • Appropriations hearings


  • Cambridge, MA
  • Switzerland
  • Washington (D.C.)


  • Document
  • Paper

ID Number

SIA2012-7631 and SIA2012-7632

Physical description

Number of Images: 2 ; Color: Color ; Size: 7.97w x 10.00h ; Type of Image: Document ; Medium: Paper

Full Record

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