Daily Weather Map Displayed at Smithsonian




Date: 1858


Usage Conditions Apply
The Smithsonian Institution Archives welcomes personal and educational use of its collections unless otherwise noted. For commercial uses, please contact photos@si.edu.
Download IIIF Manifest Request permissions Download image Print

Narrow Your Results


Filter Your Results

Smithsonian Secretaries Information

Close Browse records and papers of the Smithsonian Secretaries, from 1846 until today. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by individuals who have held that office.

Expeditions Information

Close Browse records and papers documenting scientific and collecting expeditions either affiliated with the Smithsonian, or with which Smithsonian researchers participated. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by geographic regions predominantly represented in expedition records.

Professional Societies Information

Close Browse records of professional societies closely associated with the Smithsonian, that focus on areas of scientific research and museum studies. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by major topics and disciplines.


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.


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


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • 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




  • Telegraph
  • Firsts
  • Weather forecasting
  • Exhibitions
  • Meteorology

Full Record

View Full Record