Spencer Baird Elected Secretary




Date: May 17, 1878


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Assistant Secretary Spencer Fullerton Baird is unanimously elected the second Secretary by the Board of Regents, after the death of the first Secretary, Joseph Henry, on May 13th. Baird's association with the Institution began in 1848 when he was aided by a grant of money from Smithsonian funds for research on the natural history of Pennsylvania. He was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Smithsonian in 1850 and placed in charge of the National Museum. His term as Secretary lasts for nine years, from 1878 until his death in 1887. A noted naturalist, Baird devoted his career to the development of the National Museum at the Smithsonian.


  • Baird, Spencer Fullerton 1823-1887
  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Board of Regents
  • United States National Museum


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Portrait photograph of Spencer Fullerton Baird, c. 1880. Smithsonian Institution Archives, negative number MAH-786A.
  • Goode, George Brown, ed. The Smithsonian Institution, 1846-1896, The History of Its First Half Century. Washington, D.C.: De Vinne Press, 1897, p. 191, 838
  • Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1878, p. 10, 135

Contact information

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


May 17, 1878


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