Secretary Spencer Fullerton Baird Dies

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Second Smithsonian Secretary Spencer F. Baird (1823-1887) dies at the age of sixty-four, at the headquarters of the United States Fish Commission at Wood's Hole, Massachusetts, on August 19, 1887. An ornithologist, Baird was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Smithsonian in charge of the United States National Museum in 1850 and succeeded the first Secretary, Joseph Henry, in 1878. Assistant Secretary Samuel P. Langley had been serving as Acting Secretary since February 10, 1887, when Chancellor Morrison R. Waite appointed him, in consequence of the forced absence of Secretary Spencer F. Baird, by reason of sickness. Langley served as Acting Secretary until his election by the Board of Regents as Secretary on November 18, 1887.


  • Baird, Spencer Fullerton 1823-1887
  • Langley, S. P (Samuel Pierpont) 1834-1906
  • Waite, Morrison R (Morrison Remick) 1816-1888
  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • United States Fish Commission
  • Board of Regents


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Goode, George Brown, ed. The Smithsonian Institution, 1846-1896, The History of Its First Half Century. Washington, D.C.: De Vinne Press, 1897, p. 840.
  • Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1888. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1890, p. 77-89.

Contact information

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


August 19, 1887


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