Solomon G. Brown Hired as First African American Worker at the Smithsonian, 1852




Date: 1852


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In 1852, Solomon G. Brown was hired as the Smithsonian Institution's first African American employee. Brown worked for 54 years at the Smithsonian, fulfilling many duties under secretaries Joseph Henry, Spencer Fullerton Baird, and Samuel P Langley. Brown formed a very close bond with Baird, becoming his "eyes and ears" when Baird was out of town. He was also a naturalist, poet, illustrator, and lecturer. Although he had no formal education, Brown was known by many as Professor Brown.


  • Brown, Solomon Galleon c. 1829-1906
  • Baird, Spencer Fullerton 1823-1887
  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Smithsonian Institution


Chronology of Smithsonian History


"Solomon Brown: First African American Employee at the Smithsonian Institution." Smithsonian Institution Archives.

Contact information

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




  • Smithsonian Institution
  • Personnel management
  • Scientific Illustrators
  • Employees
  • Public speaking
  • Poetry
  • Naturalists
  • African Americans
  • Smithsonian Institution--Employees

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