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Joseph Henry
1797 - 1878

Inventor, Physicist, Engineer,
Chemist, Electrodynamics Experimenter

Joseph Henry's discoveries in the field of electrical generation, transmission, and utilization were the basis for much of today's advances in electricity, radio and other communications. Henry was a pioneer in the science of meteorology. He also did extensive experimentation in the field of electromagnetics. ■ Joseph Henry was born December 17, 1797, in Albany, New York, of Scottish ancestry. At 13 he was apprenticed to a watchmaker. His interests lay elsewhere, however. A book on natural science stimulated his interest and he entered Albany Academy at 16. After finishing his course of study at Albany, he taught rural school. At the same time he continued his studies in chemistry and medicine. ■ He switched to engineering but took a job teaching mathematics and philosophy at Albany Academy. Working with electromagnets, he was the first to insulate wire for the magnetic coil and invented spool winding. He produced a working model of a telegraph and in 1829 constructed a pioneer electromagnetic motor. He was the first to use self-induction and the first to relate the principal of grounding through the earth as a return conductor. ■ Transferring to Princeton University, he taught physics and mathematics as well as chemistry, mineralogy, astronomy, geology, and architecture. He was an early sunspot observer. In 1846 he became the first secretary of the Smithsonian Institution where he started a corps of weather observers that developed into the U.S. Weather Bureau. ■ He mobilized scientific effort for the benefit of the North in the Civil War and was the prime mover in the organization of the National Academy of Sciences. He died in Washington, D.C. on May 13, 1878.
 

Wayne Rethford, President Emeritus
Illinois Saint Andrew Society
Scottish-American History Club
2800 Des Plaines Avenue
North Riverside, IL 60546

2014