International Exchange Begins Sending Government Documents Abroad




Date: October 1874


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  • Secretary Joseph Henry states in the Annual Report for 1875 that the international exchange system as originally set up in 1867 met unforeseen difficulties and certain exchanges have never been fully carried into effect, although attempts were made to do so. In October 1874, the first shipments are made to Canada, Japan, and Germany. Also in October, Henry issues a circular sent to foreign ministers in Washington, announcing the terms of the exchange.
  • Congressional resolution to use the Smithsonian Exchange program to send government documents abroad was approved on March 2, 1867. Due to financial constraints it was not appropriated until the 1870s.


  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • International Exchange Service (IES)


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Employees of the International Exchange Service, c. 1880. Smithsonian Institution Archives, negative number mah-24617.
  • Goode (p. 838) gives June 18, 1873 as the date when the exchange of sets of government documents begins. However, no other source for this date has been found.
  • Goode, George Brown, ed. The Smithsonian Institution, 1846-1896, The History of Its First Half Century. Washington, D.C.: De Vinne Press, 1897, p. 407-409, 838
  • Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1875, p. 31-33

Contact information

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


October 1874


  • Secretaries
  • Museums
  • Exchanges, Literary and scientific
  • Memorandums
  • Museum publications

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