Joseph Henry (December 17, 1797 – May 13, 1878) was an American scientist who served as the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. He was the secretary for the National Institute for the Promotion of Science, a precursor of the Smithsonian Institution. He was highly regarded during his lifetime. While building electromagnets, Henry discovered the electromagnetic phenomenon of self-inductance. He also discovered mutual inductance independently of Michael Faraday, though Faraday was the first to make the discovery and publish his results. Henry developed the electromagnet into a practical device. 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). The SI unit of inductance, the Henry, is named in his honor. Henry's work on the electromagnetic relay was the basis of the practical electrical telegraph, invented by Samuel F. B. Morse and Sir Charles Wheatstone, separately.
|1st Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution|
|Succeeded by||Spencer Fullerton Baird|
|2nd President of the National Academy of Sciences|
|Preceded by||Alexander Dallas Bache|
|Succeeded by||William Barton Rogers|
|Born||December 17, 1797|
Albany, New York, U.S.
|Died||May 13, 1878 (aged 80)|
Washington, D.C., U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Harriet Henry (née Alexander)|
|Children||William Alexander (1832–1862)|
Mary Anna (1834–1903)
Helen Louisa (1836–1912)
|Alma mater||The Albany Academy|
|Known for||Electromagnetic induction, Inventor of a precursor to the electric doorbell and electric relay|
|Institutions||The Albany Academy|
The College of New Jersey
Henry was born in Albany, New York, to Scottish immigrants Ann Alexander Henry and William Henry. His parents were poor, and Henry's father died while he was still young. For the rest of his childhood, Henry lived with his grandmother in Galway, New York. He attended a school which would later be named the "Joseph Henry Elementary School" in his honor. After school, he worked at a general store, and at the age of thirteen became an apprentice watchmaker and silversmith. Joseph's first love was theater and he came close to becoming a professional actor. His interest in science was sparked at the age of sixteen by a book of lectures on scientific topics titled Popular Lectures on Experimental Philosophy. In 1819 he entered The Albany Academy, where he was given free tuition. Even with free tuition he was so poor that he had to support himself with teaching and private tutoring positions. 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. From then on, he was inspired to a career in either civil or mechanical engineering.
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. Some of his most important research was conducted in this new position. His curiosity about terrestrial magnetism led him to experiment with magnetism in general. He was the first to coil insulated wire tightly around an iron core in order to make a more powerful electromagnet, improving on William Sturgeon's electromagnet which used loosely coiled uninsulated wire. Using this technique, he built the strongest electromagnet at the time, for Yale. He also showed that, when making an electromagnet using just two electrodes attached to a battery, it is best to wind several coils of wire in parallel, but when using a set-up with multiple batteries, there should be only one single long coil. The latter made the telegraph feasible. Because of his early experiments in electromagnetism some historians credit Henry with discoveries pre-dating Faraday and Hertz, however, Henry is not credited due to not publishing his work.
Using his newly developed electromagnetic principle, in 1831, Henry created one of the first machines to use electromagnetism for motion. This was the earliest ancestor of modern DC motor. It did not make use of rotating motion, but was merely an electromagnet perched on a pole, rocking back and forth. The rocking motion was caused by one of the two leads on both ends of the magnet rocker touching one of the two battery cells, causing a polarity change, and rocking the opposite direction until the other two leads hit the other battery.
This apparatus allowed Henry to recognize the property of self inductance. British scientist Michael Faraday also recognized this property around the same time. Since Faraday published his results first, he became the officially recognized discoverer of the phenomenon.
From 1832 to 1846, Henry served as the first Chair of Natural History at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). While in Princeton, he taught a wide range of courses including natural history, chemistry, and architecture, and ran a laboratory on campus. Decades later, Henry wrote that he made "several thousand original investigations on electricity, magnetism, and electro-magnetism" while on the Princeton faculty. Henry relied heavily on an African American research assistant, Sam Parker, in his laboratory and experiments. Parker was a free black man hired by the Princeton trustees to assist Henry. In an 1841 letter to mathematician Elias Loomis, Henry wrote:
The Trustees have however furnished me with an article which I now find indispensible namely with a coloured servant whom I have taught to manage my batteries and who now relieves me from all the dirty work of the laboratory.
In his letters, Henry described Parker providing materials for experiments, fixing technical issues with Henry's equipment, and at times being used as a test subject in electrical experiments in which Henry and his students would shock Parker in classroom demonstrations. 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. They used a thermopile to determine that sunspots were cooler than the surrounding regions. This work was shown to the astronomer Angelo Secchi who extended it, but with some question as to whether Henry was given proper credit for his earlier work.
In late 1861 and early 1862, during the American Civil War, Henry oversaw a series of lectures by prominent abolitionists at the Smithsonian Institution. Speakers included white clergymen, politicians, and activists such as Wendell Phillips, Horace Greeley, Henry Ward Beecher, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Famous orator and former fugitive slave Frederick Douglass was scheduled as the final speaker; Henry, however, refused to allow him to attend, stating: "I would not let the lecture of the coloured man be given in the rooms of the Smithsonian."
In the fall of 2014 history author Jeremy T.K. Farley released "The Civil War Out My Window: Diary of Mary Henry." The 262-page book featured the diary of Henry's daughter Mary, from the years of 1855 to 1878. Throughout the diary, Henry is repeatedly mentioned by his daughter, who showed a keen affection to her father.
Prof. Henry was introduced to Prof. Thaddeus Lowe, a balloonist from New Hampshire who had taken interest in the phenomenon of lighter-than-air gases, and exploits into meteorology, in particular, the high winds which we call the Jet stream today. It was Lowe's intent to make a transatlantic crossing by utilizing an enormous gas-inflated aerostat. Henry took a great interest in Lowe's endeavors, promoting him among some of the more prominent scientists and institutions of the day.
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. On 19 April, he launched on a fateful flight that landed him in Confederate South Carolina. 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. Henry submitted a letter to U.S. Secretary of War at the time Simon Cameron of Pennsylvania which carried Henry's endorsement:
Hon. SIMON CAMERON
DEAR SIR: In accordance with your request made to me orally on the morning of the 6th of June, I have examined the apparatus and witnessed the balloon experiments of Mr. Lowe, and have come to the following conclusions
1st. The balloon prepared by Mr. Lowe, inflated with ordinary street gas, will retain its charge for several days.
2d. In an inflated condition it can be towed by a few men along an ordinary road, or over fields, in ordinarily calm weather, from the places where it is galled [i.e. swelled or inflated] to another, twenty or more miles distant.
3d. It can be let up into the air by means of a rope in a calm day to a height sufficient to observe the country for twenty miles around and more, according to the degree of clearness of the atmosphere. The ascent may also be made at night and the camp lights of the enemy observed.
4th. From experiments made here for the first time it is conclusively proved that telegrams can be sent with ease and certainty between the balloon and the quarters of the commanding officer.
5th. I feel assured, although I have not witnessed the experiment, that when the surface wind is from the east, as it was for several days last week, an observer in the balloon can be made to float nearly to the enemy's camp (as it is now situated to the west of us), or even to float over it, and then return eastward by rising to a higher elevation. This assumption is based on the fact that the upper strata of wind in this latitude is always flowing eastward. Mr. Lowe informs me, and I do not doubt his statement, that he will on any day which is favorable make an excursion of the kind above mentioned.
6th. From all the facts I have observed and the information I have gathered I am sure that important information may be obtained in regard to the topography of the country and to the position and movements of an enemy by means of the balloon now, and that Mr. Lowe is well qualified to render service in this way by the balloon now in his possession.
7th. The balloon which Mr. Lowe now has in Washington can only be inflated in a city where street gas is to be obtained. If an exploration is required at a point too distant for the transportation of the inflated balloon, an additional apparatus for the generation of hydrogen gas will be required. The necessity of generating the gas renders the use of the balloon more expensive, but this, where important results are required, is of comparatively small importance.
For these preliminary experiments, as you may recollect, a sum not to exceed $200 or $250 was to be appropriated, and in accordance with this Mr. Lowe has presented me with the in closed statement of items, which I think are reasonable, since nothing is charged for labor and time of the aeronautic.
I have the honor to remain, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
- JOSEPH HENRY,
- Secretary Smithsonian Institution.
As a famous scientist and director of the Smithsonian Institution, Henry received visits from other scientists and inventors who sought his advice. Henry was patient, kindly, self-controlled, and gently humorous. One such visitor was Alexander Graham Bell, who on 1 March 1875 carried a letter of introduction to Henry. Henry showed an interest in seeing Bell's experimental apparatus, and Bell returned the following day. After the demonstration, Bell mentioned his untested theory on how to transmit human speech electrically by means of a "harp apparatus" which would have several steel reeds tuned to different frequencies to cover the voice spectrum. Henry said Bell had "the germ of a great invention". Henry advised Bell not to publish his ideas until he had perfected the invention. When Bell objected that he lacked the necessary knowledge, Henry firmly advised: "Get it!"
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. Henry praised "the value and astonishing character of Mr. Bell's discovery and invention."
Henry died on 13 May 1878, and was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in the Georgetown section of northwest Washington, D.C. John Phillips Sousa wrote the Transit of Venus March for the unveiling of the Joseph Henry statue in front of the Smithsonian Castle.
Henry was a member of the United States Lighthouse Board from 1852 until his death. He was appointed chairman in 1871 and served in that position the remainder of his life. He was the only civilian to serve as chairman. The United States Coast Guard honored Henry for his work on lighthouses and fog signal acoustics by naming a cutter after him. The Joseph Henry, usually referred to as the Joe Henry, was launched in 1880 and was active until 1904.
Bronze statues of Henry and Isaac Newton represent science on the balustrade of the galleries of the Main Reading Room in the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. They are two of the 16 historical figures depicted in the reading room, each pair representing one of the 8 pillars of civilization.
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. It is now the main offices of the Albany City School District. 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.
The District of Columbia named a school, built in 1878–80, on P Street between 6th and 7th the Joseph Henry School. It was demolished at some point after 1932.
| Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution
Spencer Fullerton Baird
|Professional and academic associations|
Alexander Dallas Bache
| President of the National Academy of Sciences
1868 – 1879
William Barton Rogers
David Joseph Henry is a writer, human rights activist and former parliamentary candidate from Manchester, England.Henry (unit)
The henry (symbol: H) is the SI derived unit of electrical inductance. If a current of 1 ampere flowing through the coil produces flux linkage of 1 weber turn, the coil has a self inductance of 1 henry. The unit is named after Joseph Henry (1797–1878), the American scientist who discovered electromagnetic induction independently of and at about the same time as Michael Faraday (1791–1867) in England.Henry Greer (politician)
Captain Sir Joseph Henry Greer (1 February 1855 – 25 August 1933) was an Irish soldier, politician, and racing horse owner and breeder. He was born in County Tyrone, was educated at Wellington and joined the 7th Highlanders after military college. He was appointed as Director of the Irish National Stud in 1915. He also became the Aga Khan III's first stud manager. He received a knighthood in the 1925 Birthday Honours.
He was an independent member of Seanad Éireann from 1922 to 1928. He was nominated to the Seanad by the President of the Executive Council in 1922 for 6 years. He did not contest the 1928 Seanad election.Jo Jo White
Joseph Henry White (November 16, 1946 – January 16, 2018) was an American professional basketball player. As an amateur, he played basketball at the University of Kansas and represented the U.S. men's basketball team during the 1968 Summer Olympics. As a professional, he is best known for his ten-year stint with the Boston Celtics of the NBA, where he led the team towards two NBA championships and set a franchise record of 488 consecutive games played. White was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015.Joe Engle
Joe Henry Engle (born August 26, 1932) (Maj Gen USAF, Ret.) is an American pilot, aeronautical engineer and former NASA astronaut. He was the commander of two Space Shuttle missions including STS-2, the program's second orbital flight. He also participated in the Shuttle program's Approach and Landing Tests. Engle is one of twelve pilots who flew the North American X-15, an experimental spaceplane jointly operated by the Air Force and NASA.
As an X-15 pilot, Engle made three flights above 50 miles, thus qualifying for astronaut wings per the American convention for the boundary of space. In 1966 he was selected for NASA's fifth Astronaut Group, joining the Apollo program. He was the backup Lunar Module Pilot for Apollo 14 and originally scheduled as LMP for Apollo 17. However cancellation of later flights prompted NASA to select geologist-astronaut Harrison Schmitt as LMP, displacing Engle.
Engle is an experienced spaceplane operator and the last living X-15 pilot.Joe Simon
Joseph Henry "Joe" Simon (born Hymie Simon; October 11, 1913 – December 14, 2011) was an American comic book writer, artist, editor, and publisher. Simon created or co-created many important characters like Captain America in the 1930s–1940s Golden Age of Comic Books and served as the first editor of Timely Comics, the company that would evolve into Marvel Comics.
With his partner, artist Jack Kirby, he co-created Captain America, one of comics' most enduring superheroes, and the team worked extensively on such features at DC Comics as the 1940s Sandman and Sandy the Golden Boy, and co-created the Newsboy Legion, the Boy Commandos, and Manhunter. Simon and Kirby creations for other comics publishers include Boys' Ranch, Fighting American and the Fly. In the late 1940s, the duo created the field of romance comics, and were among the earliest pioneers of horror comics. Simon, who went on to work in advertising and commercial art, also founded the satirical magazine Sick in 1960, remaining with it for a decade. He briefly returned to DC Comics in the 1970s.
Simon was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1999.Joseph Druar
Joseph Henry Druar (born September 5, 1962 in Buffalo, New York) is an American former ice dancer. He competed at the 1988 Winter Olympics with Susie Wynne. The duo won the gold medal at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships twice.Joseph H. Bunce
Joseph Henry Bunce (15 December 1823 - 27 February 1908) was the eighteenth Mayor of Louisville, Kentucky from 1869 to 1870.Joseph H. Walker
Joseph Henry Walker (December 21, 1829 – April 3, 1907) was a member of the United States House of Representatives from Massachusetts.Joseph Henry Blackburne
Joseph Henry Blackburne (10 December 1841 – 1 September 1924), nicknamed "The Black Death", dominated British chess during the latter part of the 19th century. He learned the game at the relatively late age of 17 or 18, but he quickly became a strong player and went on to develop a professional chess career that spanned over 50 years. At one point he was the world's second most successful player, with a string of tournament victories behind him, and popularised chess by giving simultaneous and blindfold displays around the country. Blackburne also published a collection of his own games.Joseph Henry Collin
Joseph Henry Collin VC (Irish: Seosamh Annraoi Ó Coileáin; 10 April 1893 – 9 April 1918) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
Collin was born on 10 April 1893 to Joseph Collin and Mary MacDermont, of 8 Petteril Terrace, Harraby, Carlisle. He was 24 years old, and a second lieutenant in the 1/4th Battalion, King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment when he was awarded the VC for his actions on 9 April 1918 at Givenchy, France. He was killed in action whilst performing the act.Joseph Henry House
The Joseph Henry House is a historic building located on the campus of Princeton University in Princeton, Mercer County, New Jersey, United States. Joseph Henry, a prominent American physicist who worked in electromagnetics, designed the house in 1836 and lived there from its completion in 1838 until taking a position as the first secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in 1848. The construction of the house was offered to the young physicist as part of the University's attempt to hire him away from the Albany Academy in an attempt to raise Princeton's profile. After Henry's departure, the house served as the official housing of the Dean of the College, the University's senior undergraduate academic officer, from 1909 to 1961.
The Henry house has been moved repeatedly throughout its history, first in 1870 to a site behind East College, again in 1925 to the corner of Washington Road and Nassau Street to accommodate the construction of the Princeton University Chapel, and finally in 1946 to its present location. The Henry house now stands along the northern edge of the University's campus adjacent to Chancellor Green and serves the home of Princeton's Adlinger Center for the Humanities. The house was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965.Joseph Henry Sharp
Joseph Henry Sharp (September 27, 1859 – August 29, 1953) was an American painter and a founding member of the Taos Society of Artists, of which he is considered the "Spiritual Father". Sharp was one of the earliest European-American artists to visit Taos, New Mexico, which he saw in 1893 with artist John Hauser. He painted American Indian portraits and cultural life, as well as Western landscapes. President Theodore Roosevelt commissioned him to paint the portraits of 200 Native American warriors who survived the Battle of the Little Bighorn. While working on this project, Sharp lived on land of the Crow Agency, Montana, where he built Absarokee Hut in 1905. Boosted by his sale of 80 paintings to Phoebe Hearst, Sharp quit teaching and began to paint full-time.
In 1909, he bought a former chapel in Taos to use as a studio, near the house of the artist E. Irving Couse. In 1912 he and his wife moved to the area full-time. He built a house with studio near the chapel. Both artists' homes and studios are part of the Eanger Irving Couse House and Studio—Joseph Henry Sharp Studios, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.Joseph Henry Sweney
Joseph Henry Sweney (October 2, 1845 – November 11, 1918) was a one-term Republican U.S. Representative from Iowa's 4th congressional district in northeastern Iowa.
Born in Warren County, Pennsylvania, Sweney attended the public schools of Pennsylvania and Iowa.
During the Civil War enlisted in the Union Army and served as a sergeant in Company K, 27th Iowa Volunteer Infantry Regiment.
After the war, he served as colonel of the Sixth Regiment of the Iowa National Guard for four years and brigadier and inspector general of the State.
He was graduated from the University of Iowa College of Law in 1881. He was admitted to the bar the same year and commenced practice in Osage, Iowa. He also engaged in banking and agricultural pursuits.
He was twice elected to the Iowa Senate, serving as president pro tempore in 1886. He was elected to two four-year terms (beginning in 1883 and 1887), but left the Senate in 1889 following his election to Congress.
In 1888, Sweney was elected as a Republican to the Fifty-first Congress, following the decision of incumbent Republican William E. Fuller not to seek a third term. However, his re-election bid was thwarted when he was upset by Democrat Walter Halben Butler as part of a Democratic landslide in 1890. He served in Congress from March 4, 1889 to March 3, 1891.
After leaving Congress, he resumed the practice of law in Osage.
He died while on a visit in Norfolk, Virginia, on November 11, 1918.
He was interred in Osage Cemetery.Joseph Maiden
Joseph Henry Maiden (25 April 1859 – 16 November 1925) was a botanist who made a major contribution to knowledge of the Australian flora, especially the Eucalyptus genus. This botanist is denoted by the author abbreviation Maiden when citing a botanical name.Joseph Yeo
Joseph Henry Lim Yeo (born September 7, 1983) is a Filipino former professional basketball player. He last played for the Meralco Bolts of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). He was drafted third overall by the Coca-Cola Tigers in 2006.San Francisco Foundation
San Francisco Foundation is a San Francisco Bay Area philanthropy organization. It is one of the largest community foundations in the country. The foundation gives out millions of dollars a year through awards and fellowship programs. Projects the Foundation has helped found include Huckleberry House.Tobin Bell
Tobin Bell (born Joseph Henry Tobin Jr.; August 7, 1942) is an American actor. He is best known for his portrayal of John Kramer / Jigsaw in the eight films of the Saw franchise. After years of work doing stand-ins and background work on films, he got his first major acting job in Mississippi Burning (1988) and went on to star in made-for-television films and guest star in television shows throughout the 1990s.
A life member of the Actors Studio, Bell also voice-acted his Jigsaw character in two video games based on the film series, Saw and its sequel Saw II: Flesh & Blood. Bell's portrayal of Jigsaw has earned him five award nominations and two wins.
Before his breakthrough with Saw, Bell appeared in many notable films, including The Verdict (1982), Tootsie (1982), Mississippi Burning (1988), False Identity (1990), Loose Cannons (1990), Goodfellas (1990), Ruby (1992), The Firm (1993), In the Line of Fire (1993), Malice (1993), The Quick and the Dead (1995), Brown's Requiem (1998), a voice role in The Road to El Dorado (2000), and a narration role in Boiling Point (1993).Waveland State Historic Site
Waveland State Historic Site, also known as the Joseph Bryan House, in Lexington, Kentucky is the site of a Greek Revival home and plantation now maintained and operated as part of the Kentucky state park system. It was the home of the Joseph Bryan family, who followed Daniel Boone through the Cumberland Gap, and became an early settler and horseman of this region.
# denotes an acting secretary
Presidents of the National Academy of Sciences
Scientists whose names are used as units
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|Non-SI metric (cgs) units|
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