Joseph Henry's Program of Organization for the Smithsonian Adopted




Date: December 13, 1847


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The Board of Regents adopts Secretary Joseph Henry's "Programme of Organization of the Smithsonian Institution." Henry's plan contains fourteen guiding considerations, including the suggestion that the Smithsonian only undertake programs that cannot be adequately carried out by existing United States institutions. A key feature of the plan is the publication of "Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge" and periodical reports on scientific progress.


  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Board of Regents
  • Programme of Organization


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Image is of Henry's Programme of Organization, 1847, Smithsonian Institution Archives, negative number 96-1630.
  • Henry's "Programme of Organization" appears in the Smithsonian's annual report for 1847 (see
  • Goode, George Brown, ed. The Smithsonian Institution, 1846-1896, The History of Its First Half Century. Washington, D.C.: De Vinne Press, 1897, p. 834.
  • Oehser, Paul H. The Smithsonian Institution. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1970, p. 30-32.
  • Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution, showing The operations, expenditures, and condition of the Institution. 30th Cong., 1st Sess., January 6, 1848. S. Rept. 23, p. 22-23.
  • Rothenberg, Marc, et al, eds., The Papers of Joseph Henry: The Smithsonian Years, January 1847-December 1849, Volume 7, Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1996, pp. 244-48.

Contact information

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


December 13, 1847


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