Joseph Henry's Home in Princeton, New Jersey, by , c. 1861, Smithsonian Archives - History Div, Joseph Henry's home in Princeton, New Jersey, where from 1832-1846 he taught natural philosophy, or physics, at the College of New Jersey, today known as Princeton University and lived there from its completion in 1838 until taking a position as the first secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in 1846. It was to this house that Professor Henry sent telegraphic messages (sometimes to order lunch) from his laboratory in Philosophical Hall. In addition to natural philosophy (physics), Henry taught chemistry, geology, mineralogy, astronomy, and architecture. Joseph Henry (1797-1878) was the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution from 1846 to 1878..