Introduction to Joseph Henry

Joseph Henry (1797-1878)

Joseph Henry
Joseph Henry - important American scientist and the first Director of the Smithsonian Institution. Painting by Henry Ulke - 1875

Joseph Henry was an important American scientist of the 19th century, the first Director of the Smithsonian Institution (1846), and one of the founding members of the National Academy of Science.

What Did Joseph Henry Invent?

Joseph Henry independently discovered electromagnetic self-induction in 1831, however the credit goes to Michael Faraday for being first. Henry is also credited with the invention of an electric motor, however, again not the first.

In 1830, Joseph Henry, demonstrated the potential of a William Sturgeon device for long distance communication by sending an electronic current over one mile of wire to activate an electromagnet which caused a bell to strike.

Thus the electric telegraph was born, however, other inventors made a commercial success of that invention.

Joseph Henry's pioneering work in electricity and magnetism helped bring about the invention of the telegraph, the electric motor, and the telephone. "But for Joseph Henry, I would never have gone ahead with the telephone." - Alexander Graham Bell

Joseph Henry - The Henry

In 1893, Joseph Henry's name was given to the standard electrical unit of inductive resistance, the "henry".