Letter from SPENCER FULLERTON BAIRD to GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, dated October 2, 1880.
Dear Mr Marsh.
I enclose a letter to the Director of the Bureau of International Exchanges, of Rome, which I shall be glad to have you read, & if you can understand my drift, to explain it to the gentleman in question.
As you will see by the enclosed letter, he wants us to deliver our packages, free of
expense, in Rome, he to do the same, to Washington. To this I object, that while I
can prepay charges & settle accounts readily as far as New York, or even
Genoa, I cannot conveniently compass the cost from Genoa to Rome. This must be paid
by somebody, as I presume the railroads will not give credit; & besides,
there would be the perplexity of keeping accounts, with a varying rate of exchange
etc. Furthermore, the arrangement would not be fair for the reason that we have so
much more to send than we can expect to receive.
Our first transmission will consist of a complete series of government publications, from about 1870, with scattering volumes of earlier years. The whole fills fifteen or sixteen boxes of ten cubic feet each, & they are of the most valuable character, as I have already explained to you. Certainly they have nothing to send us back, as a first installment; & I do not want to send anything until this question is definitely settled.
Will you please find out & let me know whether the Italian Bureau understands fully, that the proposed transmission includes not only governmental publications, but those of learned societies & of scientific men? If they are not willing to do this, our old system of agency through Hoepli, of Milan will be better.
We have been in Newport about three months, engaged in deep sea research, & have had wonderful success, obtaining hundreds of new species of fishes & invertebrates, & carried on operations, on a scale of magnitude, exceeding that of any vessel similarly, engaged.
Sincerely Yours.Spencer F BairdHon. George P. Marsh,U.S. Minsiter,Rome,Italy.
Washington, D.C., Oct. 2, 1880.
I have honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of August last, & to send a reply at the earliest moment.
The proposed transmission on the part of the Smithsonian Institution, of the publications of the United States Government, & those of its learned institutions, has not yet taken place, in the absence of an answer to the request, in my last communication for certain necessary information.
I still beg to urge upon your acceptance the method adopted by the Smithsonian Institution, in regard to sending its packages. It will be extremely difficult for us, in Washington, to pre-pay freights from an Italian seaport, to Rome. This would require an agency in that city, that would pay the railroad charges & other expenses. The accounts of such expenses too, much be rendered in dollars & cents, & there would be a constantly varying element in the rate of exchange.
Our proposition was, to deliver the boxes, free of expense, to any designated Line of Steamers in New York; the Italian agency to send its boxes, equally free of expense, to any selected seaport of Italy.
Or again, we will deliver our transmissions, entirely free of expense to any seaport in Italy, you sending returns equally free of expense to the port of New York.
Of course, we can readily arrange for the payment of charges from Washington to New York, & even from New York to Genoa, Leghorn, or other seaport. But, as already explained, we cannot arrange for charges beyond this, without a great deal of complication.
We cannot appreciate any difficulty on your part, in adopting the system proposed by us.
You refer to the practice of the French Commission of International Exchanges. In reply, I beg to say that, after testing the method suggested by you, with the French Bureau of International Exchanges, the Smithsonian system was adopted by mutual consent, as the only feasible one, under the circumstances. The same system has been adopted, so far as we are concerned, at least, by the Exchange Bureaus of Holland, Belgium, Brazil, & other nations.
Permit me to remark in this connection, that the experience of the
Smithsonian Institution, in the matter of international exchanges, has been
very much greater than that of any other
establishment of the same character. For thirty years it has been facilitating intercourse between the learned institutions of the New World & the Old At present it sends to all parts of the globe throughout the year, an average of one box daily, & receives as many in return; & in all cases, under the principles already enunciated.
As already explained to you, the Smithsonian Institution is willing to commence the exchange, by the transmission to the National Library of Italy, of some thousands of volumes of the publications of the United States Government, filling fifteen or more boxes, & embracing all the scientific, industrial & statistical publications of the nation, for the past ten years, including the magnificent works of Hayden, Powell, Wheeler & other explorers.
To this end, however, it is necessary to know whether you wish us to deliever them, free of expense, at New York, or Genoa. The former would be preferred by us.
Of course, in entering into co-operation with the Italian Bureau of Exchanges, we should discard entirely the use of Mr Hoepli. We have, at the suggestion of the Royal Institute of Science of Milan, sent our packages to him, as free of charge on the same as we could arrange for, & he has rendered a semi-annual account of his expenses, in paying certain charges that we could not readily meet in New York. It was, therefore, reasonable that the cost of transmissions from Milan to Rome should be collected by the recipients.
In the future, as soon as the matter of our exchange is properly established, every thing, public & private, intended for the Kingdom of Italy, will be sent to the International Bureau, Rome.
Spencer F Baird
Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.Segnor L. Bodio.Ufficio degli scambi internazionaliBibliolica Nazionale Vittorio EmannueleRome,Italy.
References in this letter:
Hoepli was a bookdealer at the Galleria de Crostoforis in Milan.
The geologist Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden (1829-1887) was head of the U.S. Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories from 1867 to 1879.
Geologist and ethnographer, John Wesley Powell (1834-1902), took part in the 1869 expedition to the canyons of the Green and Colorado Rivers and led the U.S. survey of the Rocky Mountain region in 1870. He was Director of the Bureau of Ethnology at the Smithsonian Institution, in charge of a systematic study of Indian tribes and from 1881 to 1894 headed the U.S. Geological Survey.
A topographic engineer, Lieutenant George Montague Wheeler (1842-1905) worked for the U.S. Corps of Engineers. Sponsored by the U.S. War Department, he was director of Surveys West of the 100th Meridian that generated many reports and maps of scientific value.