Smithsonian Receives First Annual Appropriation for Care of National Collections

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Per Secretary Joseph Henry's request, the United States Congress appropriates $4,000 for the preservation of the collections of government exploring and surveying expeditions, and an additional $1,000 for the transfer and new arrangement of the collections. Congress would continue to provide about $4,000 a year for the Smithsonian's care and exhibition of the national collections. The annual appropriation is under the charge of the Secretary of the Interior, relieving the Institution of the necessity of making an annual application to Congress. The actual work of transferring the collections from the Patent Office would be completed in July 1858. These would then represent about one-fifth of of the Institution's collection.


  • United States Dept. of the Interior
  • United States Exploring Expedition (USEE)
  • United States National Museum
  • United States Congress


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • For discussion of the transfer of the national collections to the Smithsonian in the Institution's annual report for 1858, see,, and
  • Rothenberg, Marc, 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. 13-14, 16-18
  • Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1858, p. 13-15, 40-41, 49, 56
  • Rhees, William Jones. The Smithsonian Institution: Documents Relative to Its Origin and History: 1835-1899, Vol. 1, 1835-1887. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1901., p. 607

Contact information

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


June 2, 1858


  • Law
  • Finance
  • Expenditures, Public
  • Interagency Transfers
  • National Collections
  • Major Events in Smithsonian History
  • Legislation

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