Henry's Early Research in Electromagnetism




Date: October 10, 1827


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Joseph Henry presents his first contribution to electrical science entitled, "On some Modifications of the Electro-Magnetic Apparatus," at a meeting of the Albany Institute. He becomes the first to construct an electromagnet formed by tightly wrapping multiple coils of an insulated conducting wire around an iron bar. He will demonstrate the difference between this electromagnet, a "quantity" magnet, and the type devised by Gerard Moll of Holland in 1830, which relied on only a single coil. Henry also experiments with the effects of a continuous coil of very great length, or "intensity" magnet, and will publish these experiments in 1831. In 1831, Henry and Michael Faraday will independently induce electrical currents by charging magnetic forces, although Faraday will publish his results first.


  • Faraday, Michael 1791-1867
  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Moll, Gerard 1785-1838
  • Albany Institute


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Image is of Henry's Albany magnet created in the 1820s, Smithsonian Institution Archives, negative number 39,040.
  • Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, vol. 21, no. 356, Article III. "A Memorial of Joseph Henry," including Obsequies, Memorial Exercises at the Capitol and Memorial Proceedings of Societies. Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1881, p. 212-237.
  • Reingold, Nathan, ed. The Papers of Joseph Henry, The Albany Years, December 1797 - October 1832, vol. 1. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, p. 201, 312, 316-320, 335-426.

Contact information

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


October 10, 1827


  • Electric apparatus and appliances
  • Magnetic induction
  • Inventors
  • Lectures and lecturing
  • Secretaries
  • Inventions
  • Electromagnets
  • Museums
  • Magnets
  • Experiments
  • Physics
  • Electromagnetism
  • Physics--Experiments
  • Museum publications
  • Research

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