Today in Smithsonian Bureaucracy: May 20, 1854

Engraving, Regents room

This engraving showing the Regents’ Room of the Smithsonian Institution Building (The Castle) by William Jones Rhees appeared in “An Account of the Smithsonian Institution” and was published in the 1857 guidebook. (Via Smithsonian Institution Archives)

May 20, 1854. A special committee of the Board of Regents presents a report affirming the power of the Secretary, Joseph Henry, to employ assistants, but does not “require” him to employ assistants. The committee criticizes a suggested plan that would organize the Institution into several departments on the grounds that it would encourage rivalry, collision, hostility, and impaired efficiency and usefulness. It also supports repeal of the resolution of January 1847, requiring equal division of income between active operations and the museum and library, when the buildings are completed. J. Meacham, a member of the committee, submits a minority report dissenting from the conclusions of the committee report.

Posted: 20 May 2016
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