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Author endeavors to compile a sketch of the origin, objects, plan, and operations of the Smithsonian Institution. He begins by offering a brief discussion outlining James Smithson's bequest, then quotes extensively from speeches, remarks, and Annual Reports of First Smithsonian Secretary Joseph Henry to present Henry's vision of how the Smithsonian could translate Smithson's "increase and diffusion of knowledge among men" mandate into reality. The quotations selected by the author present Henry's view that scientific research, combined with presentation and publication of findings to disseminate that research, would fulfill Smithson's instructions, and that mandates from the U. S. Congress to establish a museum and library were of secondary importance. Observations of Smithsonian Librarian Charles Coffin Jewett regarding library planning and responsibilities are presented, and the author mentions various papers published by the Smithsonian.


  • Smithson, James 1765-1829
  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Jewett, Charles C (Charles Coffin) 1816-1868
  • United States Congress
  • Smithsonian Institution Building (Washington, D.C.)
  • United States National Museum
  • Board of Regents


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography

Contained within

Southern Repertory and College Review Vol. 1 (Journal)

Contact information

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




  • Smithson Bequest
  • Museum finance
  • Secretaries
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • SI, Early History
  • Libraries
  • Museums
  • Federal Government, Relations with SI
  • Libraries and museums

Physical description

pp. 82-105

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