The Papers of Joseph Henry


Dear Sir,

Your favour of the 24th instant[2] informing me of your disposition of the papers, books &c of the late James Smithson has just been received. I am much obliged to you for the care of the articles and will pay you when I come next to Washington. You will do me a favour if you will collect any articles belonging to the Smithsonian bequest which may come to your knowledge. In the library under the table were a number of boxes containing chemicals and other materials which I should like to have preserved for though they are of little intrinsic value yet they are interesting as being part of the effects of Smithson. Also, if you can procure any of the articles of clothing which were given away and preserve them by means of arsenic or otherwise you will be doing a service to the institution.

With much Respect

I remain truly Yours &c

Joseph Henry.
John Varden, Esq.
RH 411, Rhees Collection, Huntington Library. In Harriet Henry's hand.
    [1] John Varden (d. 1865) opened a museum in Washington, D.C., in 1829. In 1841 he moved his specimens to the Patent Office Building, where he also oversaw the collections of the National Institute, the specimens of the Wilkes Expedition, and other government collections, in the "National Gallery." When the government collections were transferred to the Smithsonian Institution in 1858, Varden went with them. He remained with the Smithsonian until his death. Douglas E. Evelyn, "The National Gallery at the Patent Office," in Magnificent Voyagers: The U.S. Exploring Expedition, 1838–1842, ed. Herman J. Viola and Carolyn Margolis (Washington, 1985), pp. 230, 233, 236–241; Daybook of Washington City Museum, Varden Papers, Smithsonian Archives; Desk Diary, February 12, 1865.
    [2] Not found.