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Spencer Fullerton Baird is appointed assistant secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

Spencer Fullerton Baird, 1850, detail
The Smithsonian Institution’s Board of Regents approved Joseph Henry’s proposed appointment of Spencer Baird as the assistant secretary and curator of the Smithsonian Institution on July 5, 1850. Baird received letters of recommendation from several influential politicians including George P. Marsh and James Buchanan. Within Baird’s first decade at the Smithsonian, the Institution’s natural science specimens increased from 6,000 to 150,000 catalogued items. (By Rebecca Solnit)