Daily Weather Map Displayed at Smithsonian

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Date: 1858

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Summary

A daily weather map, compiled from telegraph reports, is displayed in the Great Hall of the Smithsonian Institution Building or Castle. The weather at the reporting stations is indicated by pieces of colored card stock which denote clear weather, cloudiness, rain, or snow. Each card has an arrow painted on it and holes punched around the edges so the card can be hung to show the direction of prevailing winds. Reports are received around 10 am and are changed as new information is received. Flags are also flown from the high tower of the Smithsonian Building to indicate forthcoming weather, especially on nights when lectures are scheduled. A local newspaper, the Washington Evening Star, first began publishing weather forecasts in 1857, based on the telegraph reports received by the Smithsonian.

Subject

  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Smithsonian Institution Building (Washington, D.C.)
  • Meteorological Project

Category

Chronology of Smithsonian History

Notes

  • Joseph Henry's description of the weather map in the Smithsonian's annual report for 1858 can be found at http://biodiversitylibrary.org/page/7952996. Fleming writes that the weather map was mounted at the Smithsonian in 1856, citing an 1869 letter from Joseph Henry to Cleveland Abbe.
  • Fleming, James Rodgers. Meteorology in America, 1800-1870. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990, p. 145.
  • Goode, George Brown, ed. The Smithsonian Institution, 1846-1896, The History of Its First Half Century. Washington, D.C.: De Vinne Press, 1897, p. 836.
  • Oehser, Paul H. The Smithsonian Institution. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1970, p. 35.
  • Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1858, p. 32.

Contact information

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

Date

1858

Topic

  • Telegraph
  • Firsts
  • Weather forecasting
  • Exhibitions
  • Meteorology

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