Graphical timeline from Smithson to Smithsonian
From Smithson to Smithsonian - The Birth of an InstitutionAn Institution Emerges

Who Was James Smithson?
Sccepting Smithson's Gift
All-American Compromise
The Smithsonian Building
An Institution Emerges
A National Collection
Smithson's Legacy

"A Library Quite Unique"

Smithsonian Library Resources in the Henry Years

Congress' 1846 Smithsonian legislation gave the Institution copyright status, reflecting interest in the Smithsonian as a national library.
Library (west wing)
Library (west wing)

American publishers were required to send the Smithsonian one copy of every book. Copyright status was revoked in 1859.

Although interested in maintaining a scientific library, Secretary Henry believed that turning the Smithsonian into a national library would cripple its other activities. In 1866, he moved most of the Smithsonian's 40,000-volume library to the Library of Congress, where it became known as the "Smithsonian Deposit."

Secretary Henry endorsed the compilation and publication of the first national listing of library resources as part of the Smithsonian's efforts to gather national statistics.

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