Smithsonian Increases Endowment through Receipt of Residual Smithson Legacy

Usage Conditions Apply
The Smithsonian Institution Archives welcomes personal and educational use of its collections unless otherwise noted. For commercial uses, please contact

Narrow Your Results


Filter Your Results

Smithsonian Secretaries Information

Close Browse records and papers of the Smithsonian Secretaries, from 1846 until today. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by individuals who have held that office.

Expeditions Information

Close Browse records and papers documenting scientific and collecting expeditions either affiliated with the Smithsonian, or with which Smithsonian researchers participated. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by geographic regions predominantly represented in expedition records.

Professional Societies Information

Close Browse records of professional societies closely associated with the Smithsonian, that focus on areas of scientific research and museum studies. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by major topics and disciplines.


The United States Congress passes an act requiring that James Smithson's residual legacy of $26,210.63 be added to the Smithson bequest in the United States Treasury. This includes both a residual bequest and the amount remaining of interest earned on the Smithson bequest prior to 1846. The act also allows the Board of Regents to increase the Smithson bequest through savings, donations, and other sources, to a sum not exceeding one million dollars. Within less than two years of the end of the Civil War, first Smithsonian Secretary Joseph Henry has increased the Institution's endowment from $515,000 to $650,000.


  • Smithson, James 1765-1829
  • Board of Regents
  • United States Dept. of the Treasury
  • United States Congress


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • George Brown Goode, ed. The Smithsonian Institution, 1846-1896, The History of Its First Half Century (Washington, D.C.: De Vinne Press, 1897), 837.
  • Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1866 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1867), 13.
  • William Jones Rhees, The Smithsonian Institution: Documents Relative to Its Origin and History: 1835-1899, Vol. 1, 1835-1887 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1901), 119-120, 666.
  • Marc Rothenberg, et al, eds. The Papers of Joseph Henry, Volume 10, January 1858-December 1865: The Smithsonian Years, (Washington, D.C.: Science History Publications, 2004), 378.

Contact information

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


February 8, 1867


  • Smithson Bequest
  • Law
  • Finance
  • Gifts
  • Management
  • Legislation

Full Record

View Full Record