The Smithsonian Institution

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

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.


Discusses the life, family lineage and bequest of James Smithson; speculates as to why Smithson left the bequest; and details the debates over how the bequest should be used. Describes the building and programs of the early Institution and the "Programme of Organization" for the SI developed by the first Secretary, Joseph Henry, which included publications, research, international exchange service, and library.


  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Smithson, James 1765-1829
  • United States National Museum
  • International Exchange Service (IES)
  • Smithsonian Institution Libraries (SIL)


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography

Contained within

The Chautauquan Vol. 5 (Journal)

Contact information

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




  • Smithson Bequest
  • Congressional Debates
  • SI, Early History
  • Museums
  • Biography
  • Museum publications
  • Research

Physical description

pp. 275-279

Full Record

View Full Record