University of Rochester History: Chapter 9: University Gallery

UNIVERSITY GALLERY

From its inception the University of Rochester proceeded on the unassailable principle that a reputation for academic excellence required a combination of able professors and gifted and ambitious students. Of the faculty in his undergraduate years as he remembered it, John Quincy Adams, 1874, wrote that it "consisted of men, not specialists, of teachers, not investigators, of warm-blooded human beings, not highly trained automatons...They knew the men as individuals and manifested a personal interest in them, and the men appreciated the human touch." Some professors, he went on to say, played favorites and were disliked, but others were greatly admired "and many of our most delightful experiences with them were outside the classroom." This recollection is not wholly valid, for certain professors recognized an obligation--and an opportunity--to enlarge the body of knowledge as well as to conserve and diffuse what was already known. 1

By 1880 nearly all of the first generation of U. of R. teachers had passed away or would soon withdraw from the cut, thrust, and parry of the classroom. Anderson, who overshadowed his colleagues like "the Colossus of Rhodes" (a nickname pinned on him by undergraduates), prided himself that the University despite its poverty had talented and learned professors. Compared with the financial rewards of other professions, except in general for the clergy, professorial salaries were modest, though ample enough to live comfortably and to cultivate the enduring satisfactions of life. On the understanding that he would devote himself exclusively to college instruction, Kendrick, whom the Theological Seminary had tried to lure away for a full-time teaching assignment, was paid $3,000 a year, or $600 more than other senior professors. Invariably these men were impressed with the dignity of their calling, and they enjoyed a measure of psychic income in the esteem of alumni and Rochesterians. Gown and town relationships were many and cordial, generally speaking, and mutually beneficial.

Fresh minds were introduced to the faculty to occupy the chairs of the "Old Guard." Several newly appointed teachers were products of the U. of R. itself, and several of them had studied at universities in Europe, in Germany above all, though the rigorous training demanded of aspirants to a doctorate was not regarded as essential for appointment.

Of the earliest professors only Kendrick and Quinby were offering instruction as of 1880, and both retired from the classroom in a few years. Mixer, whose career has previously been sketched, continued to offer instruction in the French and German languages and on occasion taught basic Italian and Spanish as optional studies. "My classes have been my life more than my food has been," he remarked. On a portrait of this courtly gentleman, who attained emeritus status in 1903, was inscribed, "French in his courtesy, German in his scholarship, and Anglo-Saxon in his strong, vigorous character." 2

For fourteen years, ending in 1875, Henry A. Ward held the title of professor of natural sciences. A native of Rochester, he had come under the sway of Professor Chester Dewey, on whose recommendation he matriculated at Williams College to prepare to pursue science as his life work, but he remained there only one year. He was strongly influenced by Jean Louis Adolphe Agassiz, the Swiss Bostonian who from his chair at Harvard did so much to promote the study and teaching of natural science in the New World. At the age of twenty-seven Ward joined the Rochester faculty to carry part of the teaching burden of the aging Dewey, and he taught geology, zoology, and botany; at the outset of his academic career, he resented Dewey's presence in the classroom as a kind of supervisor. As energetic as he was eccentric, Ward often neglected to meet his classes; his heart was not really in the college classroom and he practically ceased teaching in 1866. He was a great believer in field trips (geological excursions or rambles they were called) to train students, one of whom wrote, "He seemed almost a boy among us.... He took us first round the sand hills in the southern edge of the city, then through the gorge of the Genesee below the Lower Falls, and finally into the great gorge above Mt. Morris where we climbed and waded ten miles upstream.... "

Ill-health was the reason often assigned for Ward's absenteeism from college classes, but he was well enough to engage in numerous expeditions gathering scientific materials, and on his return he regaled his intimates with a wealth of anecdote and miscellaneous information. As has already been recounted, the University acquired (1862) from Ward valuable collections of museum specimens in geology, mineralogy, and paleontology, which were placed on the top floor of Anderson Hall. That location, it may be repeated, displeased the ambitious young scientist who wanted a separate building in which to exhibit his trophies. "Give me, sir,'' he begged Anderson, a hall "and five years of time in which to fully install and develop my plan of arrangement, and I will in turn give to Rochester University the proud distinction of possessing the most extensive and magnificent geological museum in America--the most valuable one in an educational view in the World...." Ward was convinced that expansion of the resources of his "cabinets" would immensely enhance the reputation of the college and would attract students far more effectively than the best teaching he or anyone else might offer. Going beyond the museum project, he envisaged the growth of the U. of R. into a national focal point of the natural sciences. "If the proper men come here and work properly," he boldly prophesied, "Rochester University can be the center of educational science in America."

Large funds would have been necessary, of course, to translate Ward's alluring vision into reality. Anderson had constantly to ask himself, "What can the University afford?" The battle of finances, as has previously been explained, was relentless and fierce with the President and trustees fighting hard to keep spending level with income--or just below that. More urgent needs took priority over Ward's dreams of a foundation science of national distinction beside the Genesee.

It irritated Anderson, moreover, that he had himself to teach some of Ward's classes when the professor was absent on collection missions, and he was genuinely pleased to have him bow out of the faculty. "A teacher's reputation is to be made in teaching," the President stated, "not by.... travel or by bringing home bugs. If Henry Ward had been willing to stay at home he would have made a great teacher; but by becoming a Bedouin he has steadily deteriorated and is now a mere mineral dealer." Against the judgment of Anderson, Ward persuaded Hiram Sibley to allocate to museum purposes the upper floor of the building he had donated, so that the "cabinets" might more adequately be displayed.

Unable to win the President to his plans for a scientific Athens, Ward turned to creating what grew amidst advances and retreats into the internationally renowned Ward's Natural Science Establishment. The University trustees permitted the scientist to erect a wooden workshop on the northern rim of the campus. Called ''Cosmos Hall," it was soon flanked by a "Chronos Hall" containing choice geological and zoological specimens. When fire in 1869 destroyed almost the entire establishment, Ward built a new and larger structure on the north side of College Avenue. Instead of teaching at the University, he trained apprentices there for museum careers, several of whom in maturity reflected great credit on their master; there Ward also stored collections he accumulated on incessant travels, or prepared them for sale to colleges and museums. 3

By a stroke of good fortune, the services of Samuel A. Lattimore were secured to carry on instruction in the natural sciences. His place in the Rochester story across more than four decades has been fittingly commemorated in the building devoted (1968) to teaching and research in chemistry on the River Campus. Educated at what became DePauw University, Lattimore first taught Greek at his Alma Mater and later gave instruction in science at Genesee College in Lima, New York. When it became evident that this institution could not long survive (though by tradition it served as a predecessor of Syracuse University), he shifted his allegiance to Rochester.

Until 1883, when a separate chair for geology and natural history was set up, Lattimore was responsible for teaching chemistry--his chief concern--geology, zoology, and physics. Under his direction an improvised and inadequate chemical laboratory, as has been noted, was laid out in the basement of Anderson Hall, which was resorted to by Rochester physicians and pharmacists, mechanics and farmers, along with regular and special college students seeking knowledge in theoretical and applied chemistry. It was not until 1887 that Lattimore's ambition to have a building for chemistry exclusively was realized.

A master in the classroom, Lattimore ("Lattie") compensated for the poor laboratory facilities. "He was a chemist of exceptional ability, and state-wide reputation," reported one of his first U. of R. students," a fine teacher with a charming personality" and "broad, cultural interests; doubt whether any member of the teaching staff exercised a finer or stronger influence upon the community life of Rochester." Several institutions of learning conferred honorary degrees on Lattimore, and he was a charter member of the American Chemical Society and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His idea of seeking scientific employment in Japan ran into sand.

Off the campus, Lattimore delivered series of free scientific lectures, illustrated by experiments, to workingmen in Rochester and other cities on subjects like Charcoal, Explosives, and Iron; he gave lecture courses at the celebrated Chautauqua (New York) Institution which offered popular education in the sciences and humanities. He spoke out in advocacy of cremation, which was widely opposed on religious grounds, and was himself cremated. His wide range of scientific knowledge was placed at the disposal of Rochester industry; George Eastman, for one, turned to Lattimore for assistance in solving chemical puzzles that had arisen in the development of photography. And the city government, the Board of Health, and the Dairy Commission of New York State sought technical advice from the chemist. Courts of law and municipal authorities often called upon him for chemical analyses, investigation, and expert testimony--activities that nicely supplemented his salary. Lattimore also engaged in preliminary studies on the geology of the Genesee country and was an early and resourceful fighter to preserve the natural beauties of the region.

On recommendation by Lattimore after meticulous testing, the city of Rochester purchased Hemlock and Canadice Lakes to supply water to the community; and he exposed frauds in foodstuffs. Area business firms solicited his evaluations of young technicians whom they were considering for jobs. Additionally, Lattimore participated in the founding of the Reynolds Library and of a scientific society that evolved into the Rochester Academy of Science. And he was active in the management of the Western New York Institute for Deaf Mutes and the Mechanics Institute (later the Rochester Institute of Technology).

Urbane, courtly, and sedate, he came to be looked upon by young teachers as a patriarch, a sort of father confessor with whom confidences could be freely shared. For two years, 1896 to 1898, he presided acceptably over the University, and after he retired in 1908 he appeared almost daily in his laboratory until shortly before his death. He lived on University Avenue across from the college grounds, and in his last illness he was propped up in bed so that he might watch students passing to and fro on the campus. 4

As the first man to occupy a separate chair in geology and natural history, Harrison E. Webster exerted a profound impact upon abler students; not only as a scientist but as a friend from whom they obtained counsel on academic and personal problems. His resignation in 1888, after a five-year stay, to assume the presidency of Union College, his Alma Mater, left a vacant place in the Rochester sky, which was more than filled by his successor, Herman L. Fairchild.

Known to undergraduates as "Robbie," or for some undiscoverable reason as "Old Heathen," Otis H. Robinson, 1861, was the first alumnus of the U. of R. to attain senior professorial status at the college. All through his life he was a dedicated and effective force in the work of the Alumni Association. After trying his luck in the legal profession, Robinson accepted an appointment as a tutor in mathematics, took on more responsibilities while Professor Quinby served as part-time United States Marshal, and obtained the chair in mathematics when the West Pointer retired in 1884. As sidelines, Robinson taught elementary chemistry, astronomy, and medieval history; in 1891 the title of his professorship was changed to "natural philosophy." In his early years on the faculty he pieced out his meager salary by extramural teaching, preaching, and doing a little legal work.

Robinson developed a carefully articulated philosophy of pedagogy, moving from the abstract in mathematics teaching to the concrete, from the theoretical to the practical. Whatever the course, he stressed the precise language of mathematics and insisted upon observation and experiment in the search for basic scientific principles. Undergraduates knew him as a painstaking and conscientious instructor, whose ideas of discipline made him something of a martinet. As has been pointed out in another context, Robinson administered the University library for more than a generation and pioneered in significant library techniques. At his death, a faculty resolution extolled the high integrity of Robinson, his exact knowledge, keen sense of duty, and capacity in handling practical affairs. 5

For several years Robinson shared instruction in mathematics with George E. Olds, 1873, who had studied in Germany before being named to the faculty in 1884. Versatile in his learning, Olds willingly took charge of classes in modern languages or in Latin, if the teacher failed to appear; it is said indeed that he carried an edition of Horace in his pocket and read it daily. This small, bespectacled scholar, staccato in speech and blessed with a rare sense of humor, developed into a provocative mentor who "made algebra as romantic as Kublai Khan;" he was a close friend of students, who in turn reciprocated his affection. For his tact, modesty, genial charm, and moral and religious integrity, Olds was greatly admired at Rochester and subsequently at Amherst College.

Like Robinson, Olds kept the objectives of teaching mathematics steadily in mind. Those aims he once defined as the development of accurate thinking and power of concentration, intuitive ability and constructive imagination, and preparation for "the vast field of natural science of which the bedrock is mathematics." He delighted in informal lectures, or, as he liked to call them, "dialogues," calculated to encourage learners to feel that they were rediscovering truth.

In 1891 Olds resigned, to accept the chair of mathematics at Amherst, where eventually as dean and president, as previously noted, he proved himself an unusually successful college executive. Most of his colleagues at Rochester--if not in fact all of them--wished to hold him at the U. of R. Newspaper stories to the effect that jealousies and friction inside the mathematics department had prompted him to resign seem to have had no foundation, and indeed were publicly denied by Olds. He ascribed his departure to a desire to work with one of his best academic friends, Amherst president Merrill Gates, 1870, and he imagined that the Massachusetts climate would be more conducive to intellectual efficiency. 6

On the wall of the United Gas Improvement Company offices at Broad and Arch Streets, Philadelphia, a chaste tablet contains (1968) a stanza of a world famous hymn:

He Leadeth Me, O Blessed Thought!
O, Words with Heavenly Comfort Fraught!
Whate'er I Do, Where'er I Be
Still 'Tis God's Hand that Leadeth Me.


The chorus read:

He Leadeth Me, He Leadeth Me!
By His own hand He Leadeth Me!
His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand he Leadeth Me.


The plaque explains that the verse was placed there "in recognition of the beauty and fame of the hymn and in remembrance of its distinguished author," the Reverend Joseph H. Gilmore, who in 1868 joined the U. of R. faculty. The hymn was written on March 23, 1862, just after the young minister had taken part in a divine service at the First Baptist Church in Philadelphia which at the time stood on the site of the Gas Company building.

Gilmore quickly dashed off the verse--four stanzas and chorus--at a dark hour for the North in the Civil War, which may well have affected the author's thought; minor modifications were subsequently made in the original version. Translated into many languages, the hymn has been sung all over the globe. At the River Campus in Rochester, the music was frequently played on the college chime just before chapel and became almost the official hymn of the institution.

For nearly three years Gilmore, a product of Brown University, had ministered to the Second Baptist Church of Rochester, in which President Anderson worshipped. On his invitation, Gilmore, having declined a chair at Vassar College, accepted the professorship of Rhetoric, Logic, and English Literature and remained an ornament of the faculty for forty years. (At one stage, "Gillie'' ventured to offer a term course in anthropology said to be the first of its kind in the United States.) "I have always been haunted by the suspicion," Gilmore, an unusually witty man, once remarked, "that he [Anderson] would rather have me teach than hear me preach."

Be that as it may, this inspiring teacher infused intellectual excitement into the study of Shakespeare, Milton, and other immortals of English literature. Homely stories with which he enlivened the recitation room passed from class to class, becoming campus legends. Sophomoric whims and antics Gilmore brushed aside like an indulgent father, as for instance when roasted peanuts were spread on his classroom desk and undergraduates loudly munched peanuts. Student resentment flared up, though, when learners were summoned to recite by a "card system" which "Gillie" shuffled as if engaged in a game of poker--an experiment that appears to have been short-lived.

As a result of departmental rearrangements in 1892, Gilmore stopped teaching logic and concentrated on English and American literature "with a special view to the development of literary taste and the promotion of personal culture," as he put it. His impassioned rendering of masterpieces of literature led a student to say:

When Gilly reads from Tennyson,
Or quotes from Browning's verse,
He is affected visibly
And tears his eyes immerse.


As a rule, Gilmore put materials he had used for instruction into printed form, and his writings and addresses on the history of the University, notably an Outline History of the U. of R. (1886), were the fullest and most reliable accounts before the second quarter of the twentieth century. Only 500 copies of the Outline History were printed, and they were sold for twenty-five cents apiece. Talented as a public lecturer, he appeared on many platforms. He also promoted literary clubs in Rochester, lent weighty support to the introduction and expansion of University extension courses for secondary school teachers and interested citizens, and vigorously championed the cause of higher education for women. When the gentler sex was at last admitted to the University, "Gillie" was lauded as "the coed's Good Samaritan." Even after he had passed the eightieth milestone Gilmore conducted Bible classes at the Railroad Young Men's Christian Association. "We began with Genesis nine years ago," he reported, "and are going through Revelations now."

Before entering the ministry, Gilmore had worked as a journalist, and he continued to contribute articles to Baptist periodicals and to compose poetry and hymns. Readily accessible to students, "Gillie" acted as adviser and contributor to the undergraduate newspaper, and he was not above being seen at athletic contests--or performing a marriage ceremony in Anderson Hall for the daughter of Janitor Withall. At a time when tobacco was taboo in professorial circles, Gilmore indulged in pipe-smoking, preferring a brand of cheap tobacco which students considered beneath their tastes. To prevent the smoke in his "comfortable, untidy" Anderson Hall study from penetrating into the hallway, he stuffed paper into the keyhole of the door--and there the wad lingered long after Gilmore had retired.

Early in his career at the University, it was learned by "the powers that be" that Gilmore consumed alcohol to the point of intoxication, and Anderson debated dismissing him from the teaching staff. If that were done, then similar treatment would have to be administered to Professor Quinby, who was also fond of hard liquor. It was decided, however, that Gilmore should draft a letter of resignation, which would be filed away if he mended his ways. Accordingly, he turned in his resignation "to be accepted at such time... as may seem most consistent with the interests of the University." That time, happily, never came. From Quinby a solemn pledge was extracted "that with God's help, I will hereafter absolutely abstain from all intoxicating drinks....''

Years after Gilmore had attained emeritus status, former University President David Jayne Hill said of him, "...No one, I think, ever did his work with greater conscientiousness or with greater delight. His mind was a storehouse of good literature, and he loved to open it to those who had a taste for letters. Along with this went a regard for the whole development of a human personality...." The trustees commemorated (1934) the contribution of Gilmore by naming the senior chair in English the "Joseph H. Gilmore Professorship of English Literature." His benign, heavily bearded portrait, a gift of the 1898 class, hanging on the wall of a hallway in Rush Rhees Library has been a daily goad to the present writer. 7

After graduation from the University of Michigan and a short period of teaching Latin there, Henry F. Burton finished his formal education at universities in Germany. Coming to the U. of R. at the age of twenty-six as assistant professor of Latin, Burton had a place on the faculty roster from 1877 to 1918. During that span of time, at Rochester as at other American colleges, undergraduate interest in the Latin language and literature dropped off sharply.

If Burton was an austere scholar and a stern taskmaster, he was also thorough and kindly. In the classroom "Burtie" emphasized the art and archaeology of the ancient world, and the political affairs and private life of the Romans; on occasion, he also taught Sanskrit. A selection of his unpublished manuscripts, entitled "Literary and Historical Essays," reposes in the University archives. He belonged to several national and international learned societies, and, like Lattimore, he acted as chief administrator of the University for two years. His name was assigned to one of the original dormitories erected on the River Campus. A colleague who knew Burton intimately described him as "a classical scholar not without occasional asperity, but also a gentleman of justice, a citizen of the world, an acting president of conspicuous fairness." 8

For many a Rochester alumnus of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the most fragrant memory of their undergraduate experience was Professor George M. Forbes. A Rochester graduate in the class of 1878, he had interrupted his college career in order to study in Germany. His faculty status, extending from 1881 to 1926, reads "assistant professor of Greek, professor of Greek (succeeding Asahel C. Kendrick), professor of Greek and logic, professor of philosophy and pedagogy, and finally, professor of philosophy." The changing academic titles faithfully reflected changing emphases in the intellectual concerns of Forbes. Evidently, Greek lost its savor for this spirited, avant garde thinker, and he turned to teaching the history of modern philosophy and logic, which some students found rough fare.

Forbes tried to teach us logic,
But wasn't any go,
For when it came to argument
We found it rather slow.

If any raised a question
Which he did deem unfit,
He said; "That proposition
My mind will not admit. "

As of 1900, Forbes offered instruction in psychology, logic, ethics, anthropology, physiological psychology, introduction to philosophy, the history of ancient and modern philosophy, and pedagogics. Disliking textbooks, his teaching took the form of problems whose resolution demanded independent inquiry and speculation, and he strove to impart concreteness to abstract topics by vivid examples. With wisdom of everlasting relevance, he reminded the class after another that whatever was learned in a course should be regarded simply as a prelude to private study after college years were over. "...I shall be disappointed," he characteristically told a class in logic at its final session, "if you cease your study of this subject with, the ending of this course. We have made a beginning, only a beginning...."

The zeal of Forbes for the advancement of learning was not confined to the college campus. For a dozen years he was a member of the Rochester Board of Education, part of the time president of that important body. Under his leadership levels of learning in the public schools of the city improved perceptibly; in 1905 he investigated the schooling systems of several European countries on the spot, and upon his return related his findings in public lectures, dwelling upon practices abroad that he believed worthy of imitation at home. Concerned to advance social welfare, he campaigned unsuccessfully in 1885 for public office on the Prohibition ticket--students formed a committee to win votes for him--and he devoted time and energy to the affairs of the Rochester Y. M. C. A.

On the eve of Forbes' retirement in 1926, an editorial writer for the Campus declared,'' ... He inspired those who came in contact with his keen mind with an appreciation of the noble and the good, with an understanding of the real values in life." The class of 1927 dedicated the Interpres to the venerable and venerated philosopher. Summing up the record of Forbes from the point of view of the administration, President Rush Rhees said, "He was one of the most powerful forces that have built the intellectual life of our University." 9

By the test of national standing as a man of research and scholarly writing, Herman L. Fairchild surpassed all of his colleagues. A graduate of Cornell University, "Fairy" came to Rochester in 1888, the last professor appointed by Anderson. He was picked out of a field of thirteen candidates, one of whom promised that if he were elected he would finance the construction of a building for natural history! At the outset Fairchild was professor of geology and natural history (zoology, botany, and physiology), but in 1896 his province was pared down to geology alone. He specialized in Pleistocene glacial geology, and discovered in the Genesee country a veritable "paradise for the glaciologist;'' a field-worker of almost inexhaustible energy, he broadened the scope of his investigations to include Pennsylvania and Canada. "He made the glacial history of Western New York the model for such work the world over, then reached on and out into all the surrounding regions even to Labrador to complete the story," a disciple of Fairchild tells us. Research workers coming along later verified and confirmed what he had discovered and interpreted.

Not only did Fairchild gather evidence with meticulous thoroughness, but he fitted the facts that he uncovered into intelligible patterns; and he exerted wide influence upon fundamental thinking on geological problems. His monographic contributions to scientific literature, no fewer than 228 in number, fill fourteen stately volumes; they are supplemented by materials in elaborate scrapbooks which Fairchild kept. For popular consumption, he prepared a lavishly illustrated The Geologic Story of the Genesee Valley and Western New York (Rochester, 1928). His zest for investigation lasted deep into the golden autumn of his life--more than a decade after he retired from the Rochester faculty.

Fairchild was extremely anxious that his work should be properly appreciated, and he had his reward, for another distinguished Rochester geologist acclaimed him as the dean of American geologists, his name a byword in professional circles. A charter member of the Geological Society of America, Fairchild served as president of the organization and also occupied the secretaryship for many years. As a leader in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, he served on the executive committee for a quarter of a century.

"Fairy" infected many undergraduates with his own enthusiasm for research in geology. Like the pioneers Chester Dewey and Henry A. Ward, he laid great store on trips into the field to fire student imagination and to foster the habit of accurate observation. The professor and his buggy crowded with undergraduates were familiar sights in the Genesee, countryside. "He was able to make his rocks live; he gave them a personality," it has been written.

Immediately after his arrival in Rochester, Fairchild undertook the arduous task of arranging and in some measure classifying the huge--and neglected--Ward collection of museum objects, which had been transferred to Sibley Hall from Anderson. Thanks to his energetic leadership, the Rochester Academy of Science, which was almost moribund, was resuscitated and developed into a more definitely scientific society than before. Fairchild and Forbes formed what may be termed, the left-wing of the older faculty on public issues, and the geologist was a vigorous exponent of civic reform and betterment. To augment the water supply of Rochester, he urged the city authorities to tap an underground river that he had found, but he failed to convince them that the scheme was economically feasible.

Professor John R. Slater characterized Fairchild, his colleague for many years, as "a scientific positivist, averse to most of the claims made for religion, poetry, and idealism. Yet he set up the Fairchild Award given annually [to a Rochesterian] for creative work in the fine arts, music, or literature...." In that way, the tough-textured scientist desired to commemorate his daughter Lillian, who died in youth. The University honored Fairchild by placing his name on one of the residence halls in Hill Court at the River Campus.

In the tradition of Chester Dewey, Fairchild repeatedly sounded off on the subject of the weather of the Genesee community, calling the climate at one time ''nearly perfect,'' and on another occasion as the finest "of any inland city in the country." Longer experience obliged him to modify, these assessments and to report that in the current geologic phase Rochester enjoyed "a very superior climate," though to say that it is "unsurpassed in America will provoke scornful smiles."

When the retirement of Fairchild impended in 1920, the senior Professor of English inquired:

Who told the story of the Genesee?
Who reads Ontario's riddle? Who but he,
Fairchild, our wizard of a new romance?
He sees, where others cast a careless glance.
Where they see ashes, he beholds the fire;
From fragments builds the cosmic scheme entire;
With eyes to see and brain to understand
Vast interchanges of the sea and land.

And on to the end:

Honor him here, where he has done his work,
Who never faltered, never learned to shirk,
But taught alike the careless and the wise,
Lavished on both a learning few could prize.
Honor him here, whose name is known abroad.
Honor the scientist, the man: applaud. 10

Why should the building on the River Campus in which the humanities and the social studies are taught be known by the name of Morey, it has often been asked by students and visitors to the University. Like its counterparts, Dewey and Lattimore Halls, fronting on the Eastman Quadrangle, Morey Hall is a constant reminder of an immortal in the U. of R. saga. By way of explanation, a memorial marker at the Morey Hall entrance speaks of William Carey Morey as a patriot who defended his country's life, a scholar who interpreted the past with penetrating insight, a teacher who inspired students to exact and consistent thinking, [and] a friend who won affectionate admiration..."

After his first year as a student at the college, Morey enlisted in the Union Army. And throughout the Civil War, merging as a brevet lieutenant-colonel. Resuming his studies, he graduated in the class of 1868. Except for a short teaching experience elsewhere, his life was bound up with the U. of R. until he died in 1925, five years after he had laid down classroom duties. Invitations to cast in his fortunes with other institutions, such as Northwestern University, Yale, and the Minneapolis Library, Morey turned aside. If his accomplishments in productive scholarship are less impressive than Fairchild's, the impact of "Uncle Bill" upon the undergraduate body and the Rochester community was more general and deeper.

A student admirer, spokesman for hundreds, testified to the extra ordinary effectiveness of Morey in language that any dedicated college teacher might covet. He "... taught me to look on all sides of every question, to recognize that all sides have some truth, and that the highest truth lies between the extremes." True enough, the Interpres of 1876 alluded to Morey as "...conceited, foppish, as self-willed as a mule... sensitive to the very core," but if that appraisal was anything other than sardonic satire, it soon yielded to a radically different estimate.

Upon his retirement, the alumni of the college presented Morey with a purse of gold and an illuminated parchment which read in part, "Dear Uncle Bill: For fifty years you have faithfully served the U. of R. and by our scholarly attainments and your widely extended reputation have contributed to its ever-growing strength and standing. But more significant still is what you have done for us, the boys who come under your influence... we learned to love you, Uncle Bill--our teacher and our friend... "

Starting his teaching career as an instructor of Latin, Morey insisted that the students should learn by heart the Odes of Horace, and he quoted aphorisms of the Roman poet on every suitable occasion. More interested in subject matter than in the literary style of Roman men of letters, he stressed the historical and legal aspects of the ancient Empire. For instructional purposes, he prescribed the celebrated Institutes of Justinian, which led him easily and naturally into scholarly investigations of Roman law, on which he made himself an authority. He organized a course on Roman law--one of the first in the United States--noted for clarity and appeal, and in the process he developed a far greater concern for history than for Latin literature. To stimulate student interest, he converted the class into a Roman courtroom with counsel, witnesses, cross-examination, and so forth. President Anderson, who firmly believed in the values of the historical approach to any area of knowledge, recommended (1871) to the trustees that a new professorship in history and political science be instituted. University catalogues, it is true, listed courses in history, economics, and international law, but, if taught at all, these disciplines were sidelines of teachers in other departments of learning or of the chief executive himself. Anderson groomed Morey for a special chair in social studies, and Morey groomed himself.

In 1877 a semi-independent department, attached to the offerings in Latin, presented courses in medieval history, the history of civilization (formerly Anderson's sphere), and in Roman law, and shortly thereafter Morey introduced instruction in the American and English constitutions. So the way was prepared for a separate department of history and political science created in 1883. Study of the constitutional and political history of the United States was initiated four years later; and a "seminary in American history" was presently announced, reinforced by an extracurricular historical club for Seniors. More than previously, Morey conducted his courses in such a way as to impress undergraduates with the obligations of citizenship and to encourage positive participation in the great world of public affairs. To the success of that emphasis, to the profoundly inspirational quality of his teaching, a cloud of witnesses has testified. After President Anderson retired, Morey took over instruction in economics until a new department in that subject was set up.

Apart from contributions to Baptist and secular journals, Morey published a string of books on his scholarly concerns, notably on Roman law and history and on constitutional history. Besides, he edited The Papers and Addresses of Martin B. Anderson, a skillful selection from the voluminous writings of the "old-time" college President. Drawing upon his wartime experiences, Morey frequently delivered a famous lecture on "The Last Campaigns of the Civil War" to meetings of army veterans and other organizations.

His flair for working harmoniously with kindred spirits was shown during service as trustee of the Reynolds Library in Rochester; as a director of that institution he worked energetically to enlarge the resources and devised an original scheme for classification of the book collections--a service he also performed for the University library. As another means of promoting community cultural life, he assisted in founding the Rochester Historical Society, assumed responsibility for choosing topics to be investigated by its members and then discussed around a table, more or less in imitation of his seminar at the college. A good clubman, papers that he read to the "Pundits" exhibited the versatility of his mind and intellectual interests.

On the eve of his final withdrawal from the classroom, Morey's colleagues saluted him for "long and distinguished service to the college, the community, and the cause of learning." At his death, resolutions by the faculty stated that, "In the endeavor to apply the principles of human justice, between men and between nations, to the development of judicial and legislative codes, it was his task to study the relation of the ideal to the possible. As scholar and teacher he was judicial, keen, analytical, thorough, exacting in his intellectual standards. Abhorring loose thinking and shallow speaking, he trained his students to admire, if not always to practise, restraint and precision of style."

For the community, the Times-Union obituary asserted, "The greatest teacher is he who can not only impart knowledge and skillfully direct study, but can inspire and stimulate his students to think for themselves.... " That rare ability was possessed by Professor Morey.... He was an active force in the intellectual life of the city, a citizen of whom Rochester was justly proud.... " 11

By way of summary, it is worth repeating that of the ten professors who took places once filled by the original faculty, four--Robinson, Forbes, Olds, and Morey--had received their undergraduate training at the U. of R. Burton, Forbes, and Olds had studied in Europe (as had Mixer), and Ward had traveled extensively on missions to gather museum specimens. As yet, no man on the faculty had earned a doctorate. With the conspicuous exception of Fairchild and to a lesser degree of Morey, the U. of R. staff still placed the accent on the transmission of knowledge rather than the expansion of knowledge. As teachers they were cherished by generations of young men, who loved to quote homely maxims heard in the classroom. Such were, "You cannot use a breath of air without spoiling it" (Lattimore), "Use tone that interprets" (Gilmore), "Hard work, gentlemen, that alone leads to intellectual power" (Burton),"Let us suppose that you possess a thought" (Morey), "Continue this study, or you will disappoint me'' (Forbes). 12 Almost all of the professors, finally, made significant contributions to the intellectual and cultural advancement of the community in which they resided.

II

Of the original board of trustees only four, notably William N. Sage and Elon Huntington, both residents of Rochester, were still active in 1880. At that point, one third of the managers had studied at the U. of R., seven of them holding baccalaureate degrees from the college. As early as 1867, Edwin O. Sage, 1853, had been elected to the trustee body where he was soon joined by Francis A. Macomber, 1859, Martin W. Cooke, 1860, Charles DeW. Bridgman, 1855, William H. Harris, 1858, John H. Deane, 1866, and Robert S. MacArthur, 1867. Trustee Rezin A. Wight, 1855, had withdrawn from the college at the end of his freshman year, but his interest in the institution persisted.

So far as church affiliation was concerned, a preponderance of the trustees as of 1880 still belonged to the Baptist denomination. Twelve were primarily engaged in business pursuits, five were professional churchmen, two were lawyers, one a physician, one a newspaper publisher; the vocations of the remaining two have not been discovered. With the exception of a trustee residing in Cleveland, all lived in New York State--ten in New York City and its environs, nine in Rochester, two in Buffalo, and one in Albany.

In the early 1870's the trustees voted that it would be desirable to enlarge their self-perpetuating body of twenty-four by six. But legal counsel learned that the Regents, who had granted the University charter, lacked authority, strangely enough, to approve an increase. As a corporate body the trustees bore legal responsibility, of course, for the general operation of the college. Although not spelled out, they were obligated to see that funds and teaching staff were adequate and to act upon recommendations placed before them by the president. Insofar as plans for long-term development were devised, they, too, were the obligation of the Board, and trustees were also expected to interpret the college to the general public. Questions involving appointment of faculty (though not salaries) and week-to-week conduct of the college lay outside the orbit of the trustees. Until 1888 it was not necessary for the Board to exercise one of its key responsibilities--the selection of the chief executive officer of the college.

For thirteen years after 1872 John B. Trevor held the office of chairman of the trustee group, taking the place of the late and devoted William Kelly. A partner of the Colgate family in a busy Wall Street firm, Trevor amassed a comfortable fortune, and he generously gave the University funds to erect an observatory and for many other purposes. Indeed, at the time of his death in 1890, his benefactions exceeded those of any other donor in 1906 the name of Trevor was assigned to the University professorship in Latin.

For seven years in a row Trevor failed to appear at the annual meeting of trustees. When he resigned in 1886, saying that he was not sufficiently effective as a money-raiser, the Reverend Edward Bright of New York City, who had presided over the Board in the absence of Trevor, took the chair and occupied it until 1893. A leading Baptist churchman and editor of the Examiner and Chronicle, Bright was particularly active in directing campaigns to enlarge the financial resources of the college.

As a rule the board of trustees convened only once a year, during the Commencement season. It listened to reports of the University president and the secretary-treasurer, discussed the general state of the college, and proposals for improvement that were proffered. Members who accepted appointment on the executive committee of eleven, which met frequently, had to devote a lot of time and thought to institutional affairs. At 1880, all but one man on this committee were citizens of Rochester, three of them alumni. Noteworthy for the constancy of their concern for the well being of the college were the Sage brothers, William N. and Edwin O., Hiram Sibley, two attorneys, Macomber and Cooke (later University lawyer), the newspaper publisher Freeman Clarke, and an able and intensely civic-minded physician, Edward Mott Moore. Best remembered, perhaps, as "the father of the public parks" in Rochester, Moore promoted many philanthropic enterprises; he taught medicine and surgery at several schools, carried on original research, especially on bones, and presided over both the American Medical Association and the American Surgical Association. As well as serving on the University executive committee, Moore was a valuable member of trustee committees on Internal Management and on Library and Cabinets; in 1893 he succeeded Bright as president of the Board.

In addition to Sibley and Trevor, whose gifts have previously been noted, Trustee John H. Deane signally aided his Alma Mater until overwhelmed by financial misfortunes. As a lawyer and real estate trader in New York City, Deane was at one time a rich man, and he shared his wealth with the University by endowing a professorship in English and several scholarships. It was hoped that affluent Samuel J. Tilden, Democratic candidate for the Presidency of the United States in 1876 and from 1873 to 1878 a member of the trustee body, would help the University financially, though he never in fact did so. 13

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Footnotes to Chapter 9

 

  1. Adams, op. cit., 66.
  2. Rochester Post Express, February 7, 1908.
  3. Roswell H. Ward, Henry A. Ward, Museum Builder to America (Rochester, 1948). DAB, XIX (1936), 421. Chester Dewey to M. B. Anderson, July 30, 1860. Anderson Papers, Box III. Henry A. Ward to M. B. Anderson, May 1, 1861. Ward Papers, Rhees Library Archives. Ward to Anderson, November 18, 1865. Ibid. Rossiter Johnson, 1863, "Gossip of a Lifetime," in manuscript, Rhees Library Archives, 44-45. Margaret Butterfield Andrews, 1926, "Henry A. Ward: Science Teacher," URLB, XII (1954), M. B. Anderson to John H. Raymond, March 3, 1877. Anderson Papers, Box XII.
  4. Executive Committee Minutes, VI, February 17, 1913. Proceedings of the Rochester Academy of Science, V (1919), 261-263. George D. Olds, 1873, "University of the Early 'Seventies," RAR, IX (1931), no. 3, 81-83. Campus, XXXVIII (1912-13), February 18, 1913. Carl W. Ackerman, George Eastman (New York 1930) , pp. 55-56, 59.
  5. Interpres, XXX (1889), 87-88.
  6. RAR, XXIII (1944), no. 1, 12. Interpres, XXIX (1887), 82, 87. Fuess, op. cit., p. 259. R D& C, June 21, 22, 1891.
  7. DAB, VII (1931), 311. The Watchman-Examiner, XXX (March 26, 1942), 295-296. RHSP, VI (1927), 337-339. Interpres, XXVIII (1886), 122-125. Ibid., XXXV (1893), 157. Ibid., LVII (1915), 12-13. Ibid., LVIII (1916), 151. Ibid., LIX (1917), 141. W. N. Sage to Edward Bright, July 3, 1886. Sage Papers. Hugh A. Smith, 1907, " 'Gillie' and His Lady Nicotine," RAR, IX (1930-1931), no, 2, 57. Jane Crowe Maxfield, 1905, " 'Gillie'--Portrait of a Great Teacher," RAR, XX (1959), no. 3, 24. M. B. Anderson to W. N. Sage, January 2, 1878. Anderson Papers. W. N. Sage to J. H. Gilmore, January 2, 1878, and Gilmore to Sage, January 4, 1878. Sage Papers. Trustee Records, II, 92, 107. Isaac F. Quinby to the Trustees, August 1, 1884. Rhees Library Archives.
  8. Interpres, XLI (1899), 47. John R. Slater, "Small Beginnings: The College for Men, 1850-1900," RAR [XI, no. 4], Centennial Issue, 1950, The University of Rochester--The First Hundred Years, 18.
  9. Edith Willis Linn Forbes, "George Mather Forbes," (1935), Rhees Library Archives. Interpres, XXXIV (1892), 10-12; Ibid., XXXV (1893), 157. Robert B. Pattison, 1899, "Some Mental Pictures of Professor Forbes," RAR, XIV (1935), no. 1, 13-14. Campus, LI (1925-26), January 15, 1926. Ibid., LX, November 2, 1934. R D&C, October 31, 1934.
  10. J. Edward Hoffmeister, "Herman Leroy Fairchild, Geologist," Proceedings of the. Rochester Academy of Science, IX (1946), no. 1. RHSP, VIII (1929), 78-79. George H. Chadwick, 1904, "Herman Leroy Fairchild," RAR, 1(1923), no. 5, 107. Slater, op. cit., pp. 18-19. Campus, XLV, April 30, 1920, 7. Herman L. Fairchild, "Geology in the U of R. with Personal Reminiscences," The Geolog, February, 1930. Donald B. Gilchrist to H. L. Fairchild, November 9, 1936 (copy). Valentine Papers, Rhees Library Archives.
  11. Faculty Minutes, IX, March 5, 1925. William C. Morey to Board of Trustees, March 1, 1920. Rhees Papers. Anon., "The Passing of William Carey Morey," RAR, III (1925), no. 3, 73-74. Rochester History, IV (1944), no. 4, 15-17: URLB, V (1946), 46. Interpres, XIX (1876), 58. Ibid., XXXIII (1891), 102-106. Campus, XXXI, February 14, 1906. Ibid., XXXII, November 15, 1906. Ibid., XLV, May 28, 1920. R T-U, January 21, 1925. R D&C, January 22, 1925. Charles O. Bailey to Rush Rhees, February 11, 1925. Rhees Papers.
  12. Robert B. Pattison, 1899, "The After Years: Reflections of an Alumnus," RAR, XI (1949), no. 1, 11.
  13. Annual Catalogue, 1880-1881. University Record, February, 1875, 34. DAB, XIII (1934), 119. RHSP, II (1923), 118-119. Interpres, XXVI (1884), 108. J. B. Trevor to M. B. Anderson, June 1, 1886. Anderson Papers, Box V. J. B. Trevor to W. N. Sage, January 1, 1873. Sage Papers. R D&C, August 25, 1926. Anon., "Century-old Letters of Dr. Edward Mott Moore...," RAR, XXIII (1945), no. 5, 18.