Biography and History

Joseph Henry was born in 1797 in Albany, New York. A graduate of Albany Academy, he worked as a schoolteacher, private tutor, and surveyor before appointment as professor of mathematics at Albany Academy in 1826. Henry then took up research in the new field of electromagnetism; his first notable success was the improvement of William Sturgeon's electromagnet. In 1832, he joined the faculty of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) as a professor of natural philosophy (physics), but in 1846 he left to become the first secretary and director of the Smithsonian Institution. As director of the Smithsonian, he helped organize the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Henry was also a trustee of the College of New Jersey (1864), an original member of the National Academy of Sciences, and the organization's president for ten years from 1868 to 1878. He died in Washington, D.C., in 1878.

Source: From the finding aid for C0086

  • Lecture Notes Collection. 1772-1990 (inclusive).

    Call Number: AC052

    This collection contains over 600 sets of student notes taken from lectures given by members of Princeton's faculty. They represent the broad range of courses taught at Princeton University (known as the College of New Jersey prior to 1896) and include the works of numerous famous faculty and students.

  • John Maclean, Jr. Papers. 1794-1935 (inclusive), 1852-1880 (bulk).

    Call Number: AC339

    John Maclean, Jr. was a professor, vice president, and president of Princeton University. The John Maclean Jr. Papers consist of letters to and from John Maclean regarding the history of the College of New Jersey as well as family matters.

  • Princeton at the World's Columbian Exhibition Records. 1893.

    Call Number: AC373

    Princeton University, then known as the College of New Jersey at Princeton, mounted an exhibition booth at the World's Columbian Exposition, a world's fair held in Chicago from May to October 1893. The collection includes three certificates from the U.S. Congress honoring Princeton for the exhibit, three copies of a photograph of Dr. and Mrs. McCosh seated in the exhibit booth, a written proposal for the exhibit, layout plans for the exhibit, and two bound registers containing the autographs and home cities of visitors to the exhibit.

  • Joseph Henry Collection. 1834-1878 (inclusive).

    Call Number: C0086

    Consists of selected correspondence and documents of Joseph Henry (1797-1878), the American physicist, inventor, and first secretary and director of the Smithsonian Institution.