Michael Faraday Supports Appointment of Joseph Henry as First Smithsonian Secretary




Date: October 2, 1846


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In a letter, British physicist Michael Faraday responds to Alexander Dallas Bache's request for his opinion concerning Joseph Henry's suitability for the Secretaryship of the Smithsonian. Faraday believes Henry to be just the man for the position, and that no matter who else is likely to be considered, the appointment of Henry would be no mistake. As Faraday made a general rule to turn down requests for references, he asks that his letter be kept to some degree private.


  • Bache, A. D (Alexander Dallas) 1806-1867
  • Faraday, Michael 1791-1867
  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Image is Michael Faraday, c. 1830s, Smithsonian Institution Archives, negative number SIA2012-1087.
  • Rothenberg, Marc, ed. The Papers of Joseph Henry, vol. 6. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1992, pp. 510-511.

Contact information

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


October 2, 1846


  • Letters
  • Secretaries
  • SI, Early History

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