Letter from SPENCER FULLERTON BAIRD to GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, dated February 17, 1876.

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Publication InformationInternational Exhibition, 1876Board on Behalf of U. S. Executive DepartmentsNational Museum: Smithsonian Institution,Washington, February 17, 1876.

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Dear Mr Marsh.

I do not think anything can be done in regard to a subscription to Dr Dohrn's laboratory. The distance is too great for most Americans to compass; & my own establishment at Woods Hole offers equally good facilities for research in marine zoology. I have all the conveniences referred to by Dohrn in a constant stream of salt water running on top, & aquaria of various sizes, while all the material is procurable at very little or no expense. The researches prosecuted within the last few years under my direction, will compare favorably with any thing done at Naples; & I trust that the erection of the permanent establishment will so stimulate inquiries as to multiply investigations there. There is no possible Department or Bureau of the Government that can in any way connect itself with the Naples aquarium. If, however, Dr Dohrn will say what his charge is for a table, I will publish it in Harper's Weekly, & possibly some individual may conclude to become a subscriber.

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This, however I do not consider very probable.

Sincerely Yours,S. F. BairdHon. Geo. P. Marsh.U.S. Minister,Rome,Italy.

References in this letter:

The international exhibition to celebrate the centennial of American independence was held in Philadelphia. Many items displayed in the exhibits were brought back to Washington, significantly increasing Smithsonian holdings.

The zoologist Felix Anton Dohrn (1840-1909) founded a zoological station in Naples in 1874. It was the first laboratory established for marine studies and devoted solely to research.

In the 1860s Baird had became concerned about the decline of Atlantic fish populations. In a 1870 report to the House Committee on Appropriations he suggested the appointment of a Fish Commissioner to direct research into the problem. President Grant appointed Baird the first director of the newly formed U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries in 1871.

Harper's Weekly. New York: 1857-1916; 62 vols. Baird contributed his regular column, "Scientific Intelligence," from 1877 to 1879.