Joseph Henry Elected to National Institute for the Promotion of Science, August 22, 1840, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, Joseph Henry (1797-1878), physicist and professor at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), is elected a corresponding member of the National Institution (later Institute) for the Promotion of Science, established in May 1840 in Washington, D.C. The Institute's immediate goals were to establish a museum for the collections of the U.S. Exploring Expedition (1838-1842) and to acquire the James Smithson (c. 1765-1829) bequest left to the United States for the "increase and diffusion of knowledge among men." The Institute's ultimate ambition was to be nationally recognized as an authority on scientific matters. Although it lasted twenty years, the Institute struggled to achieve its goals from the beginning..