George Perkins Marsh - Spencer Fullerton Baird Correspondence
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A leading 19th century authority on North American wildlife, Spencer Fullerton Baird (1823-1887) is now remembered as a science administrator. He was the first director of the United States National Museum, second secretary of the Smithsonian...
A leading 19th century authority on North American wildlife, Spencer Fullerton Baird (1823-1887) is now remembered as a science administrator. He was the first director of the United States National Museum, second secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, and founder of the U.S. Fish Commission, the forerunner of the Oceanographic Institute at Woods Hole, Massachusetts. He placed naturalists on all major government-sponsored expeditions, and created an international network of scientific exchange for the United States.
Baird met Marsh through his wife, Mary Churchill Baird, who had known the Marshes when she was a schoolgirl in Burlington. Baird and Marsh shared many professional interests, worked hard to further each other's careers, and corresponded regularly from 1847 until Marsh's death 35 years later. As a member of the governing Board of Regents, Marsh recommended Baird for the position of assistant secretary at the Smithsonian, collected specimens for him during his term as U.S. Minister to Turkey, and furthered connections between the Smithsonian and learned societies in Italy and elsewhere.
Most of Marsh's letters are housed at the Archives of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC while Baird's letters are part of the Marsh Collection in the Special Collections Department, at the University of Vermont. Biographical information can be found in William H. Dall, Spencer Fullerton Baird. A Biography. (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1915) and E. F. Rivinus and E. M. Youssef, Spencer Baird of the Smithsonian. (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1992).