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:
Firestone Library (mss): 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


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 photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

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:
Firestone Library (mss): Box 1