Joseph Henry

Joseph Henry

Joseph Henry

Birth : (1797-12-17)December 17, 1797 Albany,New York, U.S.

Death : May 13, 1878(1878-05-13)(aged 80) Washington, D.C., U.S.

Personal Information

Name Joseph Henry
Birth (1797-12-17)December 17, 1797 Albany,New York, U.S.
Birth Place Albany,New York, U.S.
Death (1878-05-13)(aged 80) Washington, D.C., U.S.
Died At Washington, D.C., U.S.
Nationality American
Alma Mater The Albany Academy
Fields Physics
Institution The Albany Academy The College of New Jersey Smithsonian Institution Columbian College)
Famous Research Electromagnetic induction, Inventor of a precursor to the electricdoorbelland electricrelay

Word Cloud

Events Occured in Scienctist Life


Joseph Henry (December 17, 1797 – May 13, 1878) was an American scientist who served as the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.


He invented a precursor to the electric doorbell (specifically a bell that could be rung at a distance via an electric wire, 1831) and electric relay (1835).


In 1819 he entered The Albany Academy, where he was given free tuition.


He intended to go into medicine, but in 1824 he was appointed an assistant engineer for the survey of the State road being constructed between the Hudson River and Lake Erie.


Henry excelled at his studies (so much so, he would often help his teachers teach science) and in 1826 was appointed Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at The Albany Academy by Principal T. Romeyn Beck.


Using his newly developed electromagnetic principle, in 1831, Henry created one of the first machines to use electromagnetism for motion.


From 1832 to 1846, Henry served as the first Chair of Natural History at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University).


In an 1841 letter to mathematician Elias Loomis, Henry wrote:


In 1842, when Parker fell ill, Henry's experiments stopped completely until he recovered.


Henry was appointed the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in 1846, and served in this capacity until 1878.


In 1848, while Secretary, Henry worked in conjunction with Professor Stephen Alexander to determine the relative temperatures for different parts of the solar disk.


In late 1861 and early 1862, during the American Civil War, Henry oversaw a series of lectures by prominent abolitionists at the Smithsonian Institution.


The 262-page book featured the diary of Henry's daughter Mary, from the years of 1855 to 1878.


In June 1860, Lowe had made a successful test flight with his gigantic balloon, first named the City of New York and later renamed The Great Western, flying from Philadelphia to Medford, New York.


Lowe would not be able to attempt a transatlantic flight until late Spring of the 1861, so Henry convinced him to take his balloon to a point more West and fly the balloon back to the eastern seaboard, an exercise that would keep his investors interested.


Lowe took several smaller balloons to Cincinnati, Ohio in March 1861.


With the Southern States seceding from the Union, during that winter and spring of 1861, and the onset of Civil War, Lowe abandoned further attempts at a trans-Atlantic crossing and, with Henry's endorsement, went to Washington, D.C. to offer his services as an aeronaut to the Federal government.


One such visitor was Alexander Graham Bell, who on 1 March 1875 carried a letter of introduction to Henry.


On 25 June 1876, Bell's experimental telephone (using a different design) was demonstrated at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia where Henry was one of the judges for electrical exhibits.


On 13 January 1877, Bell demonstrated his instruments to Henry at the Smithsonian Institution and Henry invited Bell to demonstrate them again that night at the Washington Philosophical Society.


He was appointed chairman in 1871 and served in that position the remainder of his life.


The Joseph Henry, usually referred to as the Joe Henry, was launched in 1880 and was active until 1904.In 1915 Henry was inducted into the Hall of Fame for Great Americans in the Bronx, New York.


In 1872 John Wesley Powell named a mountain range in southeastern Utah after Henry.


After the Albany Academy moved out of its downtown building in the early 1930s, its old building in Academy Park was renamed Joseph Henry Memorial, with a statue of him out front.


In 1971 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places; later it was included as a contributing property when the Lafayette Park Historic District was listed on the Register.


It was demolished at some point after 1932.