Portrait of Solomon G. Brown

ID: SIA2015-002687

Creator: Unknown

Form/Genre: Photographic print

Date: c. 1850

Citation: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Accession 15-098, Box 1, Folder Scrapbook

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A studio portrait of Solomon G. Brown standing in front of a tropical backdrop painted with two palm trees and a shoreline scene. Brown is standing on palm fronds in a suit, polka dot tie, and bowler hat with his left hand in his trouser pocket. Brown served as a clerk at the Smithsonian from 1850 until 1906.


Brown, Solomon Galleon c. 1829-1906


Historic Images of the Smithsonian


  • Included in a scrapbook of Solomon Brown's family genealogy, as compiled by Ms. Clara Ellis Bailey Payne. The scrapbook includes copies of poems written by Solomon G. Brown, photographs, lists of family trees, and copies of death certificates.
  • Solomon G. Brown was hired as the Smithsonian Institution's first African American employee, spending most of his career as a clerk to Spencer Fullerton Baird. Brown worked for 54 years at the Smithsonian (1850-1904), 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.

Contained within

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Accession 15-098, Box 1, Folder Scrapbook

Contact information

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


c. 1850

Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions


  • Smithsonian Institution
  • Personnel management
  • Employees
  • Smithsonian Institution--Employees
  • African Americans


  • District of Columbia
  • United States
  • Washington


  • Photographic print
  • Portraits

ID Number


Physical description

Number of Images: 1; Color: Sepia; Size: 5.5w x 8.25h; Type of Image: Portrait; Medium: Photographic print

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