Smithsonian Distributes Its First Circular on Meteorology

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Summary

"Circular on Meteorology," by Secretary Joseph Henry and James P. Espy is published. They announce the establishment of a system of meteorological observations, particularly with reference to American storms, and request those interested in signing up as volunteer observers to contact the Navy Department. Henry's "Programme of Organization," published in the Institution's first annual report (for 1847), called for "a system of extended meteorological observations for solving the problem of American storms." The Smithsonian's second annual report includes the plan for a system of meteorological observations. Secretary Henry proposes to use the magnetic telegraph to notify distant observers of approaching storms. The system of telegraphic dispatches of weather conditions would begin the next year.

Subject

  • Espy, James P (James Pollard) 1785-1860
  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • United States Dept. of the Navy

Category

Chronology of Smithsonian History

Notes

  • The Smithsonian's annual report for 1847 contains a report on meteorology by Professor Elias Loomis and an endorsement by Prof. James P. Espy of Henry's plan to collect meteorological data (see http://biodiversitylibrary.org/page/8896646). The Smithsonian's annual report for 1848 describes Henry's proposed meteorological program (see http://biodiversitylibrary.org/page/8896889) and contains a communication from Prof. Arnold Guyot endorsing use of the centigrade and metric systems for meteorological measurements (see http://biodiversitylibrary.org/page/8896935). The Smithsonian's annual report for 1864 includes a description of the origins and progress of its meteorological program (see http://biodiversitylibrary.org/page/15059872).
  • Goode, George Brown, ed. The Smithsonian Institution, 1846-1896, The History of Its First Half Century. Washington, D.C.: De Vinne Press, 1897, p. 152-53.
  • Rothenberg, Marc, ed. The Papers of Joseph Henry, Vol. 7. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1996, p. 419.
  • Chief Clerk, 1846-1933. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 65. Includes forms, circulars, announcements, Box 1, p. 5.
  • Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1847. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1848, pp. 175, 190, 193-208.
  • Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1848. Washington, D.C.: Tippin and Streeper, Printers, 1849, p. 15.
  • Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1864. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1865, pp. 42-45.

Contact information

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

Date

November 1, 1848

Topic

  • Secretaries
  • Volunteers
  • Interagency Relations
  • Major Events in Smithsonian History
  • Memorandums
  • Meteorology
  • Telegraph

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