James Smithson
British scientist - founded Smithsonian Institution

1765 - 1829

James Smithson, a British scientist, founded the Smithsonian Institution. In his will he gave more than $500,000 to the United States for the establishment of a scientific institution. Congress accepted this gift and in 1846 created the Smithsonian Institution at Washington, D.C.

Smithson was born in France, and was educated at Oxford University. Smithson became known for his researches in chemistry and mineralogy. One of the many minerals that he studied was named smithsonite (zinc carbonate) in his honor.

Contributor: Henry M. Leicester, Ph.D., Former Prof. of Biochemistry, Univ. of the Pacific.


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