Collecting by Government Exploring Parties

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During 1854, collections come to the Smithsonian from the following expeditions: the U.S.-Mexican Boundary Commission; the survey of route for the railroad to the Pacific; the exploration of the coast of California; and the exploration of the La Plata. Private expeditions also furnish specimens. Assistant Secretary Spencer F. Baird writes to his mentor, George Perkins Marsh, that the natural history operations are expanding prodigiously, despite Secretary Joseph Henry's opposition to a museum as part of the Smithsonian.


  • United States and Mexican Boundary Survey
  • Pacific Railroad Expeditions


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1854, p. 37.
  • Spencer F. Baird Letter to George Perkins Marsh, May 6, 1854, Document 25 in, Rothenberg, Marc, et al, eds. The Papers of Joseph Henry, Volume 9, January 1854-December 1857: The Smithsonian Years. Washington, D.C.: Science History Publications, 2002, pp. 64-67.

Contact information

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


May 6, 1854


  • Discovery and exploration
  • Scientific expeditions
  • Natural History
  • Territorial expansion
  • Interagency Relations
  • Museums
  • Museum exhibits
  • Natural history


  • United States
  • America

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