The Papers of Joseph Henry


My dear Sir,

Your communication of the 24th of March[1] was received the day before yesterday via Washington and I hasten to answer it, at my first leisure moment.
I have heard of your interesting researches in Ethnology and it would give me much pleasure to publish an account of them in the first number of the Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge.
I was authorized by the Board of Regents at their last session, to publish during the present year, a number of the Contributions to be printed in a quarto form and the matter to consist of such original memoirs as might be presented for publication and found on examination by competent judges to be actual and interesting additions, to the sum of human knowledge.[2]
It is not the present intention of the Institution to publish any memoirs in the form of seperate volumes; a plan of that[A] kind would lead to endless difficulties. The author however in all cases after a short time will be allowed to republish his materials in any form he may think proper and in order to assist him in so doing the free use will be given him of the engravings and other illustrations belonging to the Institution.
I hope after due reflection, you will agree with me in opinion that the best method of publishing the results of your labours will be in the way prescribed through the pages of the Smithsonian Contributions. The appearance of your researches in the transactions of a respectable Institution will immediately give them a character and make them favourably known to all engaged in the same persuit throughout the civilized world and thus establish on sure grounds the foundation of a lasting reputation.
The plan proposed is the one usually adopted by men of science abroad, particularly in publishing the results of their first labours and is the course which science has established to guard herself against the practices of those who would enjoy her honors without the industry or genius to merit them. The publication of a scientific memoir, in a seperate volume on the responsibility of the author, is an appeal to the public generally for that commendation which it is the privilige of only the learned few to grant and scarcly ever fails to produce a prejudice against the work in the minds of those who are best qualified to appreciate its merits and on whose judgement its character must ultimately depend.
I forgot to mention that a sufficient numbers[B] of extra copies will be struck off before the type is distributed to enable the author to furnish all his friends with the article and perhaps if you have no objection to the appearance of your work in a quarto form a whole edition may be worked off for your own use, not however to to be published until the numbers of the Contributions are distributed.
There are several points which I should like to discuss with you and if you intend to visit the east you will oblige me by coming to Princeton and I shall be happy to receive you at my house.
Excuse the freedom of my remarks, they are dictated by a desire to promote the best interests of science.

I am with much Respect

Yours truly

Joseph Henry.
E. Geo. Squier. Esq
Squier Papers, Library of Congress. In Harriet Henry's hand. Reply: See Doc. 46.
    [1] Doc. 28.
    [2] At its January 26, 1847, meeting, the Board of Regents authorized the publication of the Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge and appropriated $1,000 from 1847 funds for the series. Rhees, Journals, p. 26.
    [A] Altered from this
    [B] Altered from number