Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Henry, Joseph, 1797-1878
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Joseph Henry Collection
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1 box and 0.4 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • ReCAP (scarcpxm): Box 1


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

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection consists primarily of correspondence by Henry, including original letters and numerous photostats of Henry's letters housed in institutions other than Princeton, such as the Smithsonian Institution. Also included are several documents signed by Henry, and one letter each by George M. Dallas, Theodore Sedgwick, and Reverdy Johnson.

The following standard abbreviations, or their variations, are used to identify materials in this collection: ALS = autograph letter signed, TLS = typed letter signed, AMs = autograph manuscript, and DS = document signed.


The collection has been arranged as follows: Correspondence, Photostats. The correspondence is organized by accession number, and the photostats are organized alphabetically by source.

Collection Creator Biography:

Henry, Joseph, 1797-1878

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.

Collection History


Gift of Albert G. Gluckman, Mildred H. Crew, and Jefferson Hayes Davis and some letters purchased from Terry Alford in 1979.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Ran Tao '06 in 2003. Finding aid written by Ran Tao '06 in 2003.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Joseph Henry Collection; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • ReCAP (scarcpxm): Box 1