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© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Call No.: UAI 15.990
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Creator: Gorham, John, 1783-1829.
Title: Correspondence by John Gorham, Erving Professor of Chemistry, 1825-1826 and undated.
Date(s): 1825-1826 and undated.
Quantity: .17 cubic feet (1 half-document box)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: The correspondence in this collection documents a small part of the teaching and administrative activities of John Gorham, Erving Professor of Chemistry at Harvard from 1825 to 1826. The letters also allude to the financial difficulties the College experienced after 1824 when a grant of $10,000 that Harvard received annually from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was not renewed and led to a period of economizing; including a reduction of professors' salaries.
In the Harvard University Archives
John Gorham (1783-1829), a chemist and physician from Boston, Massachusetts, served as Adjunct Professor of Chemistry and Materia Medica from 1809 to 1816 and Erving Professor of Chemistry from 1816 to 1827 at Harvard University. Gorham helped establish the chemistry department at the Harvard Medical School. His treatise on chemistry, The Elements of Chemical Science (1819-1820), was one of the first systematic text books on chemistry adapted to the needs of college students in American higher education. Gorham resigned his professorship in 1827 after the Harvard Corporation voted to require the Erving Professor of Chemistry to reside in Cambridge.
The chair of Chemistry was endowed as the Erving Professorship of Chemistry and Materia Medica in 1791, under the will of William Erving (A.B. 1753), and was known by this title until 1816. From 1816 to 1827, the professorship was the known as the Erving Professorship of Chemistry. From 1827 to 1894, it was entitled the Erving Professorship of Chemistry and Mineralogy. In 1894, "Mineralogy" was removed from the title and the professorship was renamed the Erving Professorship of Chemistry.The previous holder of the Erving Professorship of Chemistry was Aaron Dexter (1791-1816).
- Bentinck-Smith, William and Elizabeth Stouffer. "Erving Professorship of Chemistry, 1791." In Harvard University, History of Named Chairs: Sketches of Donors and Donations. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Secretary to the University, 1991.
- Jackson, James. An Address delivered at the funeral of John Gorham, M.D. on the 31st Day of March 1829, by the appointment of The Boston Medical Association, and published at their request.Boston: Press of the Boston Daily Advertiser, 1829.
- Newell, Lyman C. "Gorham, John." Dictionary of American Biography. Ed. Dumas Malone. Vol. VII. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1943. 433.
The records are arranged chronologically by letter date.
The correspondence in this collection documents a small part of the teaching and administrative activities of John Gorham, Erving Professor of Chemistry at Harvard from 1825 to 1826. The letters written by Gorham to Aaron Hill, Chairman of the Committee on Examination, and President John T. Kirkland note the number of students attending chemistry lectures at the Harvard Medical School, the number of lectures and courses given by Gorham, student academic performance, and the income and expenses of the chemistry department in 1826. The letters also allude to the financial difficulties the College experienced after 1824 when a grant of $10,000 that Harvard received annually from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was not renewed and led to a period of economizing; including a reduction of professors' salaries.The records were assembled as an archival collection by the archivist at an unknown date from various sources without regard to original provenance in order to document University professorships.
This document last updated 2011 October 18.