The first African American employee of the Smithsonian Institution, Solomon G. Brown (1829?-1906) dedicated 54 years of service to the Smithsonian under three Secretaries: Joseph Henry, Spencer Baird, and Samuel P. Langley. The Social Habits of Insects, his first public lecture, was given before the Young People's Literary Society on January 10, 1855. Dedicated to his community, Brown was involved with a citizens' group that encouraged the Freedmen's Bureau to purchase land in the District of Columbia for homesteading by African Americans—some recently freed from slavery. He also served as a member of the House of Delegates under the Territorial Government of the District of Columbia in which he represented both blacks and whites residing in the Anacostia (Hillsdale) section of Washington, D. C. Solomon G. Brown retired from the Smithsonian on February 14, 1906, and died at his home in Anacostia, D.C., on June 24, 1906.
Biographical / Historical:
Information from "Kind Regards of S. G. Brown" selected Poems of Solomon G. Brown compiled by Lousie Daniel Hutchinson and Gail Sylvia Lowe, reads, "Brown wrote this 'memorial verse' in honor of his friend, Isaac Brown, who died April 26, 1894. Isaac Brown had been president of the Pioneer Sunday School Association, founded by S. G. Brown. This poem was read at the memorial service May 13, 1894. Privately printed."
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This accession consists of digital copies of a scrapbook of Solomon Brown's family genealogy, as compiled by Ms. Clara Ellis Bailey Payne. The scrapbook includes copies
of poems written by Solomon G. Brown, photographs, lists of family trees, and copies of death certificates. The accession also includes a portrait of the Younger family, relatives
of Solomon G. Brown; and a poem written by Solomon G. Brown in memoriam of his niece, Mrs. Alevia A. Smith (nee Younger), following her death on January 13, 1888.
Solomon G. Brown (1829?-1906) was the first African American employee at the Smithsonian Institution, serving for fifty-four years from 1852 to 1906. During his time
at the Smithsonian, he held many titles and performed many duties in service to the Institution. He served under the first three Smithsonian Secretaries, Joseph Henry, Spencer
Fullerton Baird, and Samuel P. Langley. He also served his community in Anacostia, a part of Washington, D.C,, and was a prominent advocate of African American progress.