The International Exchange System

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  • Woinlock explains how the International Exchange Service (IES) carried out the "diffusion" element of Smithson's mandate for the "diffusion of knowledge." Provided for in Henry's Programme of Organization, the IES was to be an extension of the system of exchanges between the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences with scientific societies abroad. Includes, the history of exchanges in the United States, rules of the system at the Smithsonian, use of the IES by the U. S. Government for distribution of publications, a detailed explanation of the legal and financial issues of the program, international conventions to establish laws of exchange, appropriations received from the U. S. Government in 1881 to help with costs, an explanation of proper packing procedures, and statistics for the years 1849 to 1852 and 1896.
  • The author also gives thanks to Alexandre Vattemare, a French surgeon and ventriloquist, for emphasizing the idea of an international exchange, and furnishes a brief biography of Vattemare.


  • Boehmer, George H
  • Vattemare, Alexandre
  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • International Exchange Service (IES)
  • United States Government Printing Office


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography


Extensive footnoting. Urges reader to also see George H. Boehmer's, History of the Smithsonian Exchanges, Smithsonian [Annual] Report for 1881.

Contained within

The Smithsonian Institution 1846-1896, The History of its First Half Century (Book)

Contact information

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




  • Museums
  • Expenditures, Public
  • Museum publications

Physical description

pp. 397-418

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