Hilgard, J. E. (Julius Erasmus), 1825-1891

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Alexander Dallas Bache (1806-1867) was an important scientific reformer during the early nineteenth century. From his position as superintendent of the United States Coast Survey, and through leadership roles in the scientific institutions of the time, Bache helped bring American science into alignment with the professional nature of its European counterpart. In addition, Bache fostered the reform of public education in America.

On July 19, 1806 Alexander Dallas Bache was born into one of Philadelphia's elite families. The son of Richard Bache and Sophia Dallas, he was Benjamin Franklin's great-grandson, nephew to George Dallas (vice president under James K. Polk), and grandson to Alexander James Dallas (secretary of the treasury under James Madison). In 1821, Bache was admitted to the United States Military Academy at the age of 15, graduating first in his class four years later. He remained at the Academy for an additional two years to teach mathematics and natural history. While serving as a lieutenant in the Army Corps of Engineers, working on the construction of Fort Adams in Newport, R.I., he met Nancy Clarke Fowler whom he would later marry.

Bache left the Army in 1828 to begin an academic career, accepting an appointment as professor of natural philosophy and chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania. Although his scientific interests were broad, he had a particular interest in geophyscial research. While in Philadelphia, he constructed a magnetic observatory, and made extensive research into terrestrial magnetism, and during the 1830s he began to be recognized as a leading figure in the city's scientific community. Bache was an active member of the American Philosphical Society and the Franklin Institute, seeking to raise the professional standards of both institutions and urging them to place a stronger emphasis on original research. While at the Franklin Institute from 1830-1835, Bache led a Federally-funded investigation into steam-boiler explosions, the government's first use of technical experts to examine a matter involving public policy.

In 1836 Bache became interested in educational reform when he was asked to help organize the curriculum at Girard College, of which he later served as president. Bache spent two years in Europe visiting over 250 educational institutions. The result of his visit was a 600 page study, Report on Education in Europe, to the Trustees of the Girard College for Orphans published in 1839. Although Bache was unable to apply the report at Girard College because of its delayed opening, it proved useful in overhauling the curriculum of Philadelphia's Central High School, where he was superintendent from 1839-1842, and was widely influential among American educational reformers, helping to introduce the Prussian educational model to the United States.

After meeting many of the leading savants during a European tour, including Alexander von Humboldt, Francois Arago, and Karl Friedrich Gauss, Bache became convinced of the need to professionalize American science. His opportunity to make an impact came in 1843 with the death of Ferdinand Hassler, superindendent of the U.S. Coast Survey. In the years before the Civil War, the Coast Survey supported more scientists then any other institution in the country, and Bache and his colleagues saw the Survey as a means of gaining federal patronage for science. After a campaign by his friends and colleagues, Bache was named as Hassler's replacement. Over the next two decades Bache transformed the Coast Survey into one of the nation's leading scientific institutions, becoming an important patron of science himself in the process . Bache was not just an administrator, but remained personally involved in field work.

Bache also led the reform of American science through his leadership of an elite group known as the "Lazzaroni" or scientific beggars. The goal of the Lazzaroni was to ensure that the nation's leading scientists kept control of the nation's scientific institutions, and they were instrumental in reforming the American Association for the Advancement of Science (of which Bache was president of in 1850). In his remarkably busy schedule, Bache was a member of the Lighthouse Board (1844-1845), superintendent of the Office of Weights and Measures (1844), and a prominent regent for the Smithsonian Institution, where he convinced fellow Lazzaroni Joseph Henry to become its first secretary. Bache also played a leading role in the creation of the National Academy of Sciences, serving as its first president. When the Americn Civil War broke out, Bache focused the Coast Survey to support the war effort, was vice president of the Sanitary Commision, a consultant to the army and navy on battle plans, a superintended for Philadelphia's defence plans, and a member of the Permanent Commission of the navy in charge of evaluating new weapons. Bache died in Newport, R.I. on February 17, 1867.

From the guide to the A. D. Bache Collection, 1833-1873, (American Philosophical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn National Archives And Records Administration. Naval Observatory Records.
referencedIn Records of the U.S. Coast Guard. National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Weather Bureau National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Yale University Library, Manuscripts & Archives). Brush Family Papers.
referencedIn Library Of Congress, Manuscript Division. Simon Newcomb Papers.
referencedIn U.S. Congress, House Documents. House Executive Documents.
referencedIn National Academy Of Sciences, Archives. Nas Bound Material.
referencedIn University Of California At Berkeley, Bancroft Library. E. W. Hilgard Papers.
referencedIn Palmer, Gideon Stinson, 1813-1891. Military officer correspondence, 1856-1907. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
referencedIn Royal Society. Sabine Papers.
referencedIn University Of North Carolina, Univ. Libraries, Ms. Dept.. Southern Historical Coll.: Jos. Leconte Pap.
referencedIn Smithsonian Archives. Ru 60: Meteorological Project, 1849 1875.
referencedIn Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book & Ms. Lib.. F. A. P. Barnard Papers.
referencedIn Franklin Institute. O. W. Gibbs Papers.
referencedIn Louisiana State University Libraries. Thomas M. Vincent Family Papers (Mss. 3116).
referencedIn National Archives And Records Administration. Rg 59: State Department.
referencedIn Harvard, Museum Of Comparative Zoology, Library, Archives. Agassiz Letterpress Books.
referencedIn Library Of Congress, Manuscript Division. Personal Papers Miscellany.
referencedIn National Archives And Records Administration. Rg 233: House Of Representatives.
referencedIn Bache, A. D. (Alexander Dallas), 1806-1867. Alexander Dallas Bache Papers, 1821-1869 Smithsonian Institution Archives
referencedIn Washington University Libraries, Special Collections. [Contact repository for more information].
referencedIn Thomas A. Jenckes Papers, 1838-1878 Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn LeConte, John L. (John Lawrence), 1825-1883. Papers, 1812-1897 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Litchfield Historical Society. [Contact repository for more information].
referencedIn American Philosophical Society. John L. Leconte Papers.
referencedIn Bache, A. D. (Alexander Dallas), 1806-1867. Records and results, 1849 / United States Coast Survey, A. Dallas Bache, Supt. United States. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
referencedIn National Archives And Records Administration. Trent Collection.
referencedIn Rhees, William Jones, 1830-1907. William Jones Rhees Papers, 1744-1907 The Huntington Library
referencedIn Library Of Congress, Manuscript Division. Alexander Dallas Bache Papers.
referencedIn Peale-Sellers family collection, 1686-1963 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Field, Cyrus W. (Cyrus West), 1819-1892. Papers. Smithsonian Institution. Libraries
referencedIn National Archives And Records Administration. Rg 23: Coast And Geodetic Survey.
creatorOf Blake, Francis, 1850-1913. Papers, 1804-1917, bulk: 1866-1913. Massachusetts Historical Society
referencedIn Historical Society Of Pennsylvania. Gratz Collection.
referencedIn National Academy Of Sciences, Archives. Administration Other Files.
referencedIn Knox College Archives And Manuscript Collections. [Contact repository for more information].
referencedIn Smithsonian Archives. Spencer F. Baird Papers (Mc 2000.11).
referencedIn Library Of Congress, Manuscript Division. John Sherman Papers.
referencedIn Smithsonian Archives. William Jones Rhees Collection.
referencedIn Rogers, William Barton papers Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Libraries
referencedIn National Academy Of Sciences, Archives. Rg 192: Commissary General Of Subsistence.
referencedIn Batchelder family papers, 1806-1902 Houghton Library
referencedIn Henry Villard papers, 1604-1948 (inclusive), 1863-1900 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn American Philosophical Society. John Fries Frazer Papers.
referencedIn New York State Archives. James Hall Papers.
referencedIn Jenckes, Thomas A. (Thomas Allen), 1818-1875. Papers of Thomas A. Jenckes, 1836-1878. Library of Congress
referencedIn Massachusetts Institute Of Technology Libraries. William Barton Rogers Papers.
referencedIn University Of Washington Libraries, Special Collections. Isaac I. Stevens Papers, Gen. Corr. Chron..
referencedIn Barnard, Frederick A. P. (Frederick Augustus Porter), 1809-1889. Frederick A.P. Barnard papers, 1831-1889. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn American Association Advancement Of Science Proceedings. [Contact repository for more information].
referencedIn Coffin, James H. (James Henry), 1806-1873. James Henry Coffin Papers, 1848-1884 Smithsonian Institution Archives
referencedIn Benjamin Peirce Papers. Houghton Library
referencedIn Historical Society Of Pennsylvania. A. A. Humphreys Collection.
creatorOf Harrison, A. M. (Alexander Medina), 1829-1891. Coast north of Port Orford, Oregon / surveyed by sub-assist A.M. Harrison ; U.S. Coast Survey, A.D Bache, supt. ; copied from the archives of the Coast Survey for assist. George Davidson ; J.D. Hilgard, assist Coast Survey in charge of Office. Oregon Historical Society Research Library
referencedIn National Archives And Records Administration. Notebook Series Misc. Shop & Lab Notebooks.
referencedIn Sumner, Charles, 1811-1874. Correspondence, 1829-1874 Houghton Library
referencedIn National Academy Of Sciences Proceedings. [Contact repository for more information].
creatorOf OAC Review Index. Scientific co-operation : the American Association for the Advancement of Science and its fifth New York City meeting / H.L. Fulmer, OAC Review, v.41, no.6, Feb. 1929, p.197-200, con't on p.xxii, xxiv. University of Guelph. McLaughlin Library
referencedIn Vincent, Thomas McCurdy, 1832-1909. Thomas McCurdy Vincent family papers, 1824-1916. Louisiana State University, LSU Libraries
creatorOf McGrath, J. E. Area of swamp & salt marsh lands along the Atlantic coast from Maine to Georgia / by J.E. McGrath. United States. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
creatorOf Tyndall, John, 1820-1893. Papers. Smithsonian Institution. Libraries
referencedIn Smithsonian Archives. Ru 52: Assistant Secretary, Incoming Correspondenc.
referencedIn American Philosophical Society. John Peter Lesley Papers.
referencedIn National Academy Of Sciences, Archives. Deceased Members.
referencedIn Royal Institution (Great Britain). John Tyndall Papers.
referencedIn Smithsonian Institution, National Museum Of American History. [Contact repository for more information].
referencedIn Library Of Congress, Manuscript Division. John W. Draper And Draper Family Papers.
referencedIn Secretary Of The Interior. National Archives at College Park
referencedIn Princeton University Library, Dept. Of Rare Books & Mss., Ms. Hyatt And Mayer Correspondence.
referencedIn Marsh, Othniel Charles, 1831-1899. Othniel Charles Marsh papers, 1817-1899 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Princeton University Library, Dept. Of Rare Books & Mss., Ms. James Henry Coffin Papers.
referencedIn Charles Eliot Norton papers Houghton Library
creatorOf Bache, A. D. (Alexander Dallas), 1806-1867. A. D. Bache Collection, 1833-1873 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Marsh, Othniel Charles, 1831-1899. Papers, 1817-1899 Yale University Library
referencedIn Smithsonian Institution. Office of the Secretary. Correspondence, 1865-1891 Smithsonian Institution Archives
referencedIn Missouri Botanical Garden Library. George Engelmann Papers.
referencedIn Smithsonian Institution. Office of the Secretary. Correspondence, 1863-1879 Smithsonian Institution Archives
referencedIn Vassar College Libraries, Archives & Special Collections. [Contact repository for more information].
referencedIn John Fries Frazer papers, 1834-1871, 1834-1871 American Philosophical Society
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Place Name Admin Code Country
American Assoc. For The Advancement Of Science (+ Aagn Etc.)
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Birth 1825-01-07

Death 1891


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