Henry Papers Document Database

As the result of a world-wide search, the Joseph Henry Papers Project obtained copies of nearly 136,000 Henry documents from some 300 repositories in 17 nations.

These documents, including correspondence between Henry and such figures as Alexander Dallas Bache and Michael Faraday, provide a wealth of information on the nineteenth-century scientific community. They also shed light on science as a broad social and cultural phenomenon in American life.

Because Henry was Secretary of the Smithsonian from its founding in 1846 until his death in 1878, the documents are also a rich resource for understanding the early history of the institution and its influence on the development of a variety of disciplines.

To access this material, the project developed a document database that allows researchers to conduct searches by subject, name, and date. The database provides access to historical documentation on the following disciplines, among others:

anthropology                 ethnology
archaeology                  geology 
architecture                 meteorology
art history                  natural history
astronomy                    paleontology
botany                       physics
chemistry                    zoology

The database includes more than 15,000 names. Some of the more prominent cultural, political, and scientific figures include Louis Agassiz, Alexander Dallas Bache, Spencer F. Baird, George Bancroft, Alexander Graham Bell, Jefferson Davis, Dorothea L. Dix, James A. Garfield, Asa Gray, Henry James, Sr., Matthew F. Maury, Maria Mitchell, Lewis Henry Morgan, Samuel F. B. Morse, Titian Ramsey Peale, Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, William Tecumseh Sherman, Benjamin Silliman, Sr., John Torrey, and Thomas U. Walter.

Researchers interested in making use of these resources, which are available at the Smithsonian Institution Archives, should e-mail SIHistory@si.edu, or call 202-633-5910.

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