The Alaska Fisheries Science Center website is now part of the NOAA Fisheries website.
Some information may not be up to date. Join us at our new location,
Please contact with any questions.

link to AFSC home page
Mobile users can use the Site Map to access the principal pages

link to AFSC home page link to NMFS home page link to NOAA home page

AFSC Historical Corner:  Spencer Fullerton Baird,  the First Commissioner

Early Pioneers
Spencer F. Baird
Tarleton H. Bean
Henry Wood Elliott
George Brown Goode
Charles H. Gilbert
John Nathan Cobb
William F. Thompson
Other Individuals
Research and Mgmt.
Spencer Fullerton Baird
Spencer F. Baird.  NEFSC photo.

"Spencer Fullerton Baird (1823-1887) was a naturalist whose early reputation was based on a vast knowledge of ornithology coupled with editorial talent and facility in several languages.

These capabilities led to his selection as the first assistant secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in 1850 and, after the death of Joseph Henry in 1878, the Secretary.

Baird, while retaining his Smithsonian position, was appointed the first Commissioner of Fish and Fisheries (a forerunner of the National Marine Fisheries Service) in 1871. He encouraged the rapid development of fish culture in the United States, founded the Woods Hole fisheries laboratory [Mass.], and commenced building and acquiring fisheries research vessels, notably the Albatross and the Fish Hawk.

Although Baird had great interest in the operations of the Fish Commission, much of the day-to-day operations and development of the science was passed to other men, notably George Brown Goode, as fisheries was but one aspect of Baird's multi-faceted career."

From: History Makers: Honorable Mentions. NOAA Celebrates 200 Years of Science, Service & Stewardship website

Additional reading:

  • Allard, D. C. 1998. Spencer Fullerton Baird and the Foundations of American Marine Science. Mar. Fish. Rev. 50(4):124-129.  (.pdf, 1.13 MB).
  • Goode, G. B. 1998. Biographical Sketch of Spencer Fullerton Baird. Mar. Fish. Rev. 58(1-2):40-43.  (.pdf, 3 MB).
  • "Baird's Legacy"  "Fisheries Historical Page", NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center website.
  • Spencer Baird and Ichthyology at the Smithsonian, 1850-1900 - Introduction.  Smithsonian website.
  • Spencer Baird and Ichthyology at the Smithsonian, 1850-1900 - Spencer F. Baird's Timeline.  Smithsonian website.
  • Herber, Elmer C. 1954. "Spencer Fullerton Baird and the Purchase of Alaska". In Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 98, No. 2. (15 April 1954), p. 139-143.
  • Anonymous. 1996. The "Baird" Memorial. Mar. Fish. Rev. 58(1-2):44-52.  (.pdf, 6.57 MB).

            | Home | Site Map | Contact Us | FOIA | Privacy | Disclaimer | | Accessibility | Print |           doc logo