Effects of Civil War on Smithsonian




Date: February 1862


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In his report for 1862, Secretary Joseph Henry writes that the Smithsonian has cooperated with the Sanitary Commission and Surgeon-General of the United States Army in improving the health and comfort of soldiers, while at the same time collecting data of interest to ethnologists and other researchers. The collections include a world-class set of illustrations of surgical anatomy. At the same time, the number of meteorological observations has diminished. With respect to finances, the Institution's position has suffered due to rising prices (especially for paper) as well as the non-payment of interest on southern state stocks. The receipt of specimens of natural history is materially curtailed. (The policy of not purchasing collections is affirmed.)


  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • United States Sanitary Commission
  • United States Army Surgeon General


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Photograph of the encampment of the Army of the Potomac from Incidents of the War: Guides to the Army of the Potomac, by Alexander Gardner, 1862. Smithsonian American Art Museum, object number 2007.4.2
  • Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1862. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1863, p. 13-15, 55, 99.
  • Goode, George Brown, ed. The Smithsonian Institution, 1846-1896, The History of Its First Half Century. Washington, D.C.: De Vinne Press, 1897, p. 837.

Contact information

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


  • February 1862
  • Civil War, 1861-1865


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