Spencer Baird Appointed Assistant Secretary of the Smithsonian

ID: 2002-12179



Date: July 5, 1850


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The Board of Regents approves Smithsonian Secretary Joseph Henry's nomination of Spencer Fullerton Baird as Assistant Secretary in the Department of Natural History. As "Keeper of the Cabinet," Baird will take charge of the museum and assist with publications. After his hiring, Baird would also become responsible for managing the Smithsonian's international publications exchange program. Baird, a naturalist, had previously taught at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The initial salary for his position is $1,500 per annum. Baird would become the second Secretary of the Smithsonian upon Henry's death in 1878.


  • Baird, Spencer Fullerton 1823-1887
  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Board of Regents
  • Dickinson College
  • National Museum of Natural History (U.S.)
  • United States National Museum


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Oehser calls Baird the "Father of the U.S. National Museum."
  • Rothenberg, Marc, et al, eds., The Papers of Joseph Henry: The Smithsonian Years, January 1850-December 1853, Volume 8, Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1996, pp. xxiv-xxvi, 67-70.
  • Moyer, Albert. Joseph Henry: The Rise of an American Scientist. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1997, p. 270-71.
  • 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, pp. 40-41.
  • Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, volume 18, number 329. "Journals of the Proceedings of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution 1846-76, Reports of Committees, Statistics, Etc." ed. by William J. Rhees. Washington: Published by the Smithsonian Institution, 1879, p. 67.

Contact information

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


July 5, 1850


  • Assistant Secretaries
  • International exchanges
  • Appointments
  • Natural History
  • Secretaries
  • New Positions
  • New Departments
  • Museums
  • Exchanges, Literary and scientific
  • Natural history
  • Museum publications

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