William McPeake Hired as Smithsonian Doorkeeper and Messenger

Usage Conditions Apply
The Smithsonian Institution Archives welcomes personal and educational use of its collections unless otherwise noted. For commercial uses, please contact photos@si.edu.

Narrow Your Results


Filter Your Results

Smithsonian Secretaries Information

Close Browse records and papers of the Smithsonian Secretaries, from 1846 until today. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by individuals who have held that office.

Expeditions Information

Close Browse records and papers documenting scientific and collecting expeditions either affiliated with the Smithsonian, or with which Smithsonian researchers participated. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by geographic regions predominantly represented in expedition records.

Professional Societies Information

Close Browse records of professional societies closely associated with the Smithsonian, that focus on areas of scientific research and museum studies. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by major topics and disciplines.


At the first meeting of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution, on 7 September 1846, the president of the board, George M. Dallas, appointed William McPeake as doorkeeper and messenger to the board. McPeake, then, is the first paid employee of the Smithsonian Institution. McPeake worked for the board, especially the Building Committee, until his death in 1862, at a salary of $1. per day.


  • Dallas, George Mifflin 1792-1864
  • McPeake, William c. 1792-1862
  • Board of Regents
  • Building Committee


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • The Journal of Proceedings of the Board of Regents and Joseph Henry's correspondence both spell his name as McPeak, however, census data and his obituary establish that it is spelled as McPeake.
  • Journal of Proceedings of the Regents of the Smithsonian Institution, September 7, 1846. In Report from the Board of Regents, Submitted to Congress, Of the operations, expenditures, and condition of the Smithsonian Institution. G. M. Dallas, Chancellor. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution: March 3, 1847, p. 2.
  • Rothenberg, M., et al, editor. The Papers of Joseph Henry, January 1847-December 1849, The Smithsonian Years, Volume 7. Washington, D.C.: The Smithsonian Institution Press, 1996, p. 81 note.

Contact information

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


September 7, 1846


  • Labor unions
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • Personnel management
  • SI, Early History
  • Employees
  • Labor
  • Smithsonian Institution--Employees

Full Record

View Full Record