Item 0028 - Letter, 27 December 1877

Open original Digital object

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Letter, 27 December 1877

General material designation

Parallel title

Other title information

Title statements of responsibility

Title notes

  • Source of title proper: Title based on content.

Level of description


Reference code

CA MUA MG 1022-2-1-119-0028

Edition area

Edition statement

Edition statement of responsibility

Class of material specific details area

Statement of scale (cartographic)

Statement of projection (cartographic)

Statement of coordinates (cartographic)

Statement of scale (architectural)

Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 27 December 1877 (Creation)
    Henry, Joseph, 1797-1878
    Washington (D.C.)

Physical description area

Physical description

Publisher's series area

Title proper of publisher's series

Parallel titles of publisher's series

Other title information of publisher's series

Statement of responsibility relating to publisher's series

Numbering within publisher's series

Note on publisher's series

Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Joseph Alexander Henry was born on December 17, 1797, in Albany, New York.

He was an American scientist, educator, and the first Smithsonian Secretary (1846-1878). In 1819, he entered The Albany Academy, where he was given free tuition. Here Henry worked as both a chemical assistant and lecture preparer. In 1826, he was appointed a Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy, and it was here that he began his scientific research on electromagnetism and worked on the development of the telegraph. In 1832, Henry was named Professor of Natural History at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), and his tour of European scientific centers in 1837 established his international reputation in science. His achievements as both an educator and scientist made him a prime candidate for the position of Smithsonian Secretary in 1846. Despite the challenges of the Civil War, he focused the Smithsonian on research, publications, and international exchanges. By 1849, he created a program to study weather patterns in North America, a project that eventually led to the creation of the National Weather Service. In 1852, he became a member of the U.S. Lighthouse Board, becoming its chairman in 1871, a position he held until his death. He was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society in 1835 and the American Antiquarian Society in 1851. In 1915, Henry was inducted into the Hall of Fame for Great Americans in the Bronx, New York.

In 1830, he married Harriet L. Alexander (1810–1882). He died on May 13, 1878, in Georgetown, Washington, D.C.

Custodial history

Scope and content

Letter from Joseph Henry to John William Dawson, written from the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition


Language of material

Script of material

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

Restrictions on access

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Finding aids

Associated materials

Related materials


Alternative identifier(s)

Standard number area

Standard number

Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Control area

Description record identifier

Institution identifier

Rules or conventions


Level of detail

Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Language of description

Script of description


Digital object (External URI) rights area

Digital object (Reference) rights area

Digital object (Thumbnail) rights area

Accession area

Related subjects

Related people and organizations

Related places

Related genres

Physical storage

  • Box: M-1022-6