May
17

Today in Smithsonian History: May 17, 1878

Portrait of Spencer Fullerton Baird (1823-1887), second Secretary (1878-1887) of the Smithsonian Institution. Baird, an ornithologist, arrived in Washington in 1850 to become Assistant Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, a post he held for 28 years. Upon the death of Joseph Henry, the first Secretary of the Smithsonian (1847-1878), he became Secretary. In this image Baird is facing more forward and only slightly looking to the right. Baird noted in his desk diary that William Bell came to photograph him on January 10, 1867

Portrait of Spencer Fullerton Baird (1823-1887), second Secretary (1878-1887) of the Smithsonian Institution by William Bell.

May 17, 1878 Assistant Secretary Spencer Fullerton Baird is unanimously elected the second Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution by the Board of Regents. Baird’s association with the Institution began in 1848 when he was aided by a grant of money from Smithsonian funds for research on the natural history of Pennsylvania. His term as Secretary lasts for nine years, from 1878 until his death in 1887.


Posted: 17 May 2015
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