Terms of Appointment as Smithsonian Secretary Offered to Joseph Henry




Date: December 5, 1846


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Physicist Joseph Henry (1797-1878), the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, receives a letter notifying him that the salary for the position of Secretary of the Smithsonian has been fixed at $3,500, with the addition of $500 per annum for rent, until a residence is prepared for his use. On December 4th, the Board of Regents had resolved to appoint a library committee and to recommend that the Secretary appoint an assistant secretary to discharge the duties of librarian. Alexander Dallas Bache informs Henry that the members of the Board appointed to the library committee, Rufus P. Choate, Henry W. Hilliard, and Richard Rush, are in favor of the nomination of Professor Charles Coffin Jewett as librarian. These members of the Board favored a greater role for a library than those who supported Henry; therefore Bache suggests that the nomination of Jewett, who will develop a library, will conciliate them.


  • Bache, A. D (Alexander Dallas) 1806-1867
  • Choate, Rufus, 1799-1859
  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Hilliard, Henry W (Henry Washington) 1808-1892
  • Jewett, Charles C (Charles Coffin) 1816-1868
  • Rush, Richard 1780-1859
  • Smithsonian Institution Libraries (SIL)
  • Board of Regents Committee on Libraries


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Image is of Rufus P. Choate, c. 1845, Smithsonian Institution Archives, negative number 2002-32231
  • Report from The Board of Regents, submitted to Congress, Of the operations, expenditures, and condition of the Smithsonian Institution. 29th Congress, 2nd Session, March 3, 1847. S. Report. 211, pp.13-14.
  • Rothenberg, Marc, ed. The Papers of Joseph Henry, vol. 6. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1992, p. 564-567.

Contact information

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


December 5, 1846


  • Assistant Secretaries
  • Appointments
  • Secretaries
  • SI, Early History
  • Libraries
  • Wages

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