Joseph Henry Gives Directives for Smithsonian Publications

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.


In his annual report for 1848, Smithsonian Secretary Joseph Henry writes: "The objects of the Smithsonian Institution are not educational." He observes that the country "already teems with elementary works on the different branches of knowledge" and that for the Institution to engage in that sort of publishing would "dissipate [Smithsonian funds] without perceptible effect." He views the Smithsonian reports on the "progress of knowledge" as being useful to teachers. The current topics for reports are: agricultural chemistry; North American forests, their history, uses, and propagation; lightning and the best means of guarding against accidents; current astronomical discoveries; and the use of meteorological instruments.


  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Smithsonian Institution Press


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Henry's statement can be found at
  • Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1848. Washington, D.C.: Tippin and Streeper, 1849, p. 18.

Contact information

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


February 19, 1849


  • Policies
  • Publications
  • Education
  • Secretaries
  • Research

Full Record

View Full Record