Alexander Dallas Bache Urges Joseph Henry to Become Smithsonian's First Secretary




Date: December 4, 1846


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Alexander Dallas Bache, a member of the first Smithsonian Board of Regents as well as a scientist and close friend of physicist Joseph Henry, writes to Henry urging him to accept the Secretaryship of the Smithsonian Institution. Due to Bache's efforts, Henry accepts the position, and as a result, the Institution's first years are dedicated primarily to scientific research.


  • Bache, A. D (Alexander Dallas) 1806-1867
  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Board of Regents


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Image is Alexander Dallas Bache, perhaps c. 1855, Smithsonian Institution Archives, negative number mah-46639d.
  • Marc Rothenberg, ed. The Papers of Joseph Henry, The Princeton Years, January 1844 - December 1846, vol. 6. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, pp. 564-67.
  • Jones, Bessie Zaban. Lighthouse of the Skies; The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory: Background and History, 1846-1988. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1965, p. 36.

Contact information

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


December 4, 1846


  • Appointments
  • Secretaries
  • SI, Early History
  • Scientists

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