Wilkes Expedition Collections Transferred from Patent Office to Smithsonian

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Date: March 3, 1857

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Summary

The United States Congress appropriates $2,000 for the transfer of the United States Exploring Expedition collections to the Smithsonian, and $15,000 for the construction of display cases. The bulk of the collections from the 1838-1842 survey, led by Charles Wilkes, had been in the possession of the National Institute for the Promotion of Science, located in the Patent Office Building. On March 31, as part of this transfer, the personal effects of James Smithson are deposited in the Regents Room at the Smithsonian Institution Building. The Smithson display, in a large black walnut case, consists of mineral specimens, a table service, and portable scientific apparatus. Smithsonian Secretary Joseph Henry had previously resisted Congressional attempts to house the national collections at the Institution.

Subject

  • Smithson, James 1765-1829
  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Wilkes, Charles 1798-1877
  • Brackenridge, William D (William Dunlop) 1810-1893
  • Board of Regents
  • Patent Office Building (POB)
  • Smithsonian Institution Building Regents' Room
  • Smithsonian Institution Building (Washington, D.C.)
  • United States Exploring Expedition (USEE)
  • United States Patent Office
  • United States Congress
  • National Institute
  • National Institute for the Promotion of Science

Category

Chronology of Smithsonian History

Notes

  • Portrait of William Duncan Brackenridge, a naturalist on the United States Exploring Expedition. Smithsonian Institution Archives, negative number 2005-1378.
  • Rothenberg, Marc, et al, eds. The Papers of Joseph Henry, Volume 9, January 1854-December 1857: The Smithsonian Years. Washington, D.C.: Science History Publications, 2002, pp. xxix-xxxii, 446-48, 452-53.
  • 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. xviii-xx.
  • Goode, George Brown, ed. The Smithsonian Institution, 1846-1896, The History of Its First Half Century. Washington, D.C.: De Vinne Press, 1897, p. 836
  • Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1857, p. 35
  • Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1860, p. 108
  • 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. 603

Contact information

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

Date

March 3, 1857

Topic

  • Scientific expeditions
  • Scientific apparatus and instruments
  • Finance
  • Exhibitions
  • Expenditures, Public
  • Interagency Transfers
  • National Collections
  • Major Events in Smithsonian History

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