Circulars for Natural History Collecting

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Secretary Joseph Henry issues a circular requesting help to complete the Smithsonian's collection of the quadrupeds of North America. It includes instructions for the preservation of specimens. An 1854, 2nd edition of Spencer F. Baird's circular, "Directions for Collecting, Preserving, and Transporting Specimens of Natural History," is referenced in the 1855 circular. The complete text for Baird's directions is published in the 1856 Annual Report (pp.235-253). In his report for that year, Baird states that the museum's "...collection of the vertebrate animals of North America, including skins, specimens entire in alcohol, and skeletons and skulls, is in every department, the richest in the world in materials for illustrating species and their geographical distribution." (p. 59)


  • Baird, Spencer Fullerton 1823-1887
  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • United States National Museum


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Photograph of visitors to the Museum in the Smithsonian Institution Building is probably by Thomas Smillie, 1867. Smithsonian Institution Archives, negative number MAH-60144A.
  • Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 65, p. V. 1, p. 101
  • Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1855, p. 55
  • Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1856, p. 59, 235-253

Contact information

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


April 1, 1855


  • Assistant Secretaries
  • Animals
  • Natural History
  • Secretaries
  • Collectors and collecting
  • Museums
  • Mammals
  • Memorandums
  • Museum exhibits
  • Natural history

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