Joseph Henry Medal Created




Date: May 1879


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  • Joseph Henry Medal was created to honor Joseph Henry, first Secretary of the Smithsonian from 1846 to 1878. The likeness of Henry is probably based on the bust of Henry by sculptor Clark Mills. The medal was molded in 1879, by William Barber, born in London, England, in 1807, and died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1879, and Charles Barber, born in London, England, in 1840 and died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1917. The medal is gold-plated bronze, 2 1/2 x 2 1/2 x 1/8 in. (6.3 x 6.3 x 0.4 cm). One of the medals is located at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
  • The Henry Medal was not awarded until 1967 when the Smithsonian Board of Regents passed a resolution to award it for exceptional service to the Smithsonian Institution.


  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Barber, Charles Edward 1840-1917
  • Barber, William 1807-1879
  • Mills, Clark
  • United States Mint
  • Board of Regents


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Image of is Joseph Henry Medal. The date is estimated between Joseph Henry's death in May of 1878 and William Barber's death in August of 1879.
  • William Barber to Spencer F. Baird, 15 May 1878; and William Barber to Miss [Mary?] Henry, 9 June 1879, Joseph Henry Collection, Record Unit 7001, Box 39, Smithsonian Institution Archives.
  • Board of Regents Meeting, 25 January 1967, Office of the Secretary, Record Unit 99 , Box 1, Smithsonian Institution Archives.
  • David Ferry, trans., The Odes of Horace. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1997, 64-65.

Contact information

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


May 1879


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  • Joseph Henry Medal
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