Women of the Smithsonian

Women certainly weren't the focus of the Smithsonian from its founding in 1846--but they have found a way to be involved since early on. Often women found themselves in unofficial roles to male family members. Mary Henry, daughter of Joseph Henry (the Smithsonian's first secretary) served as a sounding board--and lived in the Castle with her father and the rest of the Henry family. The same goes for Julia Baird, the 2nd Secretary's daughter--Spencer Baird. She often helped him with correspondence and bookkeeping. In this way women were present early on. Other women, by proximity to their male relations were able to move into paid positions. As time has gone on during the 175 years the Smithsonian has been around women have slowly and steadily climbed the career and responsibility ladder at the Smithsonian. Their contributions are numerous and important. This adventure takes you across the Mall and through time as women made their mark in a variety of ways around the Institution.

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