National Academy of Sciences Established

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The National Academy of Sciences is established by an act of the U.S. Congress. The purpose of the Academy is to advance science and to advise the federal government on scientific matters. Smithsonian Secretary Joseph Henry is named as one of the academy's fifty members and chairs its inaugural meeting in New York. He initially declines a leadership position due to his role at the Smithsonian, but would become the Academy's president in 1868, upon the death of its founding president Alexander Dallas Bache. The Smithsonian furnishes rooms to the organization for its meetings and library.


  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Bache, A. D (Alexander Dallas) 1806-1867
  • National Academy of Sciences (U.S.)
  • Smithsonian Institution Building (Washington, D.C.)
  • United States Congress


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Marc Rothenberg, et al, eds. The Papers of Joseph Henry, Volume 10, January 1858-December 1865: The Smithsonian Years. Washington, D.C.: Science History Publications, 2004, pp. xxxiv-xxxvi, 303, 396-98, 599-600 (index)
  • 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, 837.
  • Cochrane, Rexmond C. The National Academy of Sciences, the First Hundred Years, 1863-1963. Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Sciences, 1978, p. 56.

Contact information

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


March 3, 1863


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  • Libraries
  • Learned institutions and societies

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