Smithsonian Institution Building (Washington, D.C.) Search this
Number of Images: 1; Color: Black and White; Size: 8w x10h; Type of Image: Document; Medium: Paper
United States, District of Columbia, Washington
September 22, 1856
Historic Images of the Smithsonian
Solomon G. Brown was hired as the Smithsonian Institution's first African American employee, spending most of his career as a clerk to Spencer Fullerton Baird. Brown worked for 54 years at the Smithsonian (1850-1904), fulfilling many duties under secretaries Joseph Henry, Spencer Fullerton Baird, and Samuel P. Langley. Brown formed a very close bond with Baird, becoming his "eyes and ears" when Baird was out of town. He was also a naturalist, poet, illustrator, and lecturer. Although he had no formal education, Brown was known by many as Professor Brown.
Letter from Solomon G. Brown to Assistant Secretary and Curator Spencer Fullerton Baird about Secretary Joseph Henry and problems with the Fish Room in the Smithsonian Institution Building, or Castle, especially the smells emanating from it. Brown states that he is dismayed that Baird will be late returning from summer field work at Woods Hole, Massachusetts, because Secretary Henry was making threats to remove parts of the natural history collections. Secretary Henry preferred the Smithsonian Institution to remain solely research-based and not house any collections.
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7002, Box 16, Folder 11