A Biographical Sketch of James Smithson

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.


A detailed biography of James Smithson (c.1765-1829), founding donor of the Smithsonian Institution, that covers his family history, education at Oxford University, scientific research and colleagues, and bequest to the people of the United States.


  • Smithson, James 1765-1829
  • Oxford University


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography


Reprint Abridgement of Langley's chapter on Smithson in The Smithsonian Institution, 1846-1896, The History of its First Half Century, 1897. Also printed in 1914 as SI Publication No. 2276. Langley served as the third Secretary of the Smithsonian from 1887 to 1906.

Contained within


Contact information

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




  • Smithson Bequest
  • Benefactors
  • Mineralogy
  • SI, Early History
  • Biography

Full Record

View Full Record