Happy Birthday Smithsonian! Today we’re 166!
An Act of Congress dated 10 August 1846 established the Smithsonian Institution as a trust instrumentality of the United States, created a Board of Regents, and called for a building to house a museum with geological and mineralogical cabinets, a chemical laboratory, a gallery of art, lecture rooms, and a library. The Board of Regents selected American physicist Joseph Henry as the first Secretary of the fledgling enterprise and directed Henry to hire Charles Coffin Jewett, well-known bookman and librarian at Brown University, as the first Assistant Secretary in charge of the library.
Pictured above is Jewett and the rare book room formerly located in the Arts & Industries building named after him.