The New York State Roots of Joseph Henry's National Career

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This article discusses the life and early career of the Smithsonian's first Secretary, Joseph Henry. Henry was a curator of the Albany Lyceum of Natural History until it merged with another organization in 1829 to become the Albany Institute, for which Henry served as the librarian. His access to natural history collections, scientific publications, and fine art, says the author, influenced his later work at the Smithsonian. Henry also gave a series of public chemistry lectures in Albany, which can be considered a precursor to his public lecture program at the Smithsonian. Finally, the author notes that the mentorship Henry received in Albany was likely influential in his own mentorship of young scientists during his long tenure at the Smithsonian.


  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Albany Academy
  • Albany Institute


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography


Extensively footnoted. Includes photographs. The author edited volumes 1 through 9.

Contained within

New York History Vol. 54 (Journal)

Contact information

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






Albany (N.Y.)

Physical description

pp. 133-144

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