The Smithsonian Institution, 1846-1896: The History of Its First Half Century

The Smithsonian Institution, 1846-1896: The History of Its First Half Century

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The Smithsonian Institution, 1846-1896: The History of Its First Half Century

The Smithsonian Institution, 1846-1896: The History of Its First Half Century

Read FREE!

Excerpt

The law establishing the Smithsonian Institution was signed by President Polk on August, 10, 1846, and the first organic act of the Institution was a meeting of the Board of Regents, held on September 7 of that year. As far back as 1893, in view of the approaching completion of the first half century, I discussed with the Executive Committee of the Regents the best method of celebrating this event.

It seemed quite impracticable to arrange for a gathering of delegates from other scientific institutions, such as is often held on similar occasions by institutions and learned bodies, and the simplest and most effective means of commemorating it appeared to be the SYSTEMation of a suitable volume, which would give an account of the history, achievements, and present condition of the Smithsonian Institution.

Doctor G. Brown Goode, whose acquaintance with its history was unrivaled, drew up a comprehensive plan for the volume, and on its approval, Doctor James C. Welling, a Regent, agreed to undertake its editorial supervision. Doctor Welling's death seemed to put a stop to the proposed work, for there appeared to be no one sufficiently acquainted with the history of the Institution who had the ability, the willingness, and the leisure to assume this very considerable task. It was then that Doctor Goode told me of his great desire to undertake the work. Knowing how numerous his duties already were, I at first refused, and it was only at his earnest solicitation that I agreed to his request.

The manuscript was so far advanced at the time of his death as to render possible its completion for the press, and its publication upon the lines he laid down. He had not only written many of the chapters, but had made arrangements for the illus . . .

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