Hill, Thomas, 1818-1891

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Thomas Hill was President of Harvard College from 1862-1868.

From the description of Letter to Rev. William Henry Furness, ca. 1862-1868. (University of Pennsylvania Library). WorldCat record id: 155883609

Thomas Hill (1818-1891) earned his Harvard AB 1843 and served as President of Harvard University from 1862-1868.

From the description of Bond to Harvard College, August 30, 1839. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 77064762

Thomas Hill (1818-1891) was President of Harvard University from October 6, 1862 to September 30, 1868. He was also a Unitarian minister, mathematician, scientist, educator, and Harvard University lecturer.

From the description of Papers of Thomas Hill, 1794-1930. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 77072562

President of Harvard University from 1862-1868. Also a Unitarian minister, mathematician, scientist, educator and Harvard University lecturer.

From the description of Thomas Hill letter to William Wheeler [manuscript], 1866 Mar 16. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 420531326

Thomas Hill (1818-1891) earned his Harvard AB 1843; he served as President of the University (1862-1868), University Lecturer (1863-1867), and Overseer (1871-1873).

John Bacon (1818-1888) earned his Harvard AB 1843; he served as an Overseer (1865-1871).

From the description of Note from Thomas Hill to John W. Bacon, [ca. 1840?] (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 77064772

Thomas Hill (1818-1891) was President of Harvard University from October 6, 1862 to September 30, 1868. He was also a Unitarian minister, mathematician, scientist, educator, and Harvard University lecturer.

Thomas Hill was born to Thomas Hill (1771-1828) and his second wife, Henrietta (Barker) Hill (1774-1824) on January 7, 1818 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Hill's father had emigrated to the United States from England in 1791 for religious reasons. In his new country, Hill's father began as a farmer, started a business as a tanner, and served as a judge on the court of common pleas. A lover of nature, Hill's father taught his children the scientific names of plants and encouraged an interest in the natural sciences. Hill's mother died in 1824 and his father died in 1828. Hill was was an orphan by the time he was ten years old.

Hill had little formal schooling in his early years, but his mother and sisters taught him to read and cipher. A keen observer with a retentive memory, Hill was a constant and wide reader. He developed an early interest in botany, science, philosophy and mathematics. By the time he was twelve years old, Hill had read the works of Benjamin Franklin and Erasmus Darwin. Hill served as an apprentice in a newspaper office from 1830 to 1833. In 1834 he studied under his eldest brother at Lower Dublin Academy in Holmesburg, Pennsylvania. Although he was interested in civil engineering, Hill became an apprentice to an apothecary, serving in this capacity until 1838.

Hill entered Harvard University in 1838 and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1843. In college, Hill distinguished himself in mathematics and invented an instrument for calculating eclipses and occultations, for which he was awarded the Scott Medal from the Franklin Institute. He also published a little book of poems entitled Christmas and Poems on Slavery, dedicated to Eliza Lee Follen, who was active in the anti-slavery movement. In 1845, Hill received his divinity degree from the Harvard Divinity School and entered the ministry .

Hill served at the First Church of Waltham, Massachusetts from 1845 to 1859. It was during this time that Hill established his reputation, not only as a man of God, but also as a scientist, educator, and writer. In the next few years, Hill published First Lessons in Geometry (1855), a mathematical textbook, Geometry and Faith (1849), a book describing the essence of Hill's religious doctrine, and several papers on mathematics and astronomy for the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 1857, he wrote an article about astronomy for the new Appleton's Encyclopedia. A popular speaker, Hill gave the Phi Beta Kappa oration at Harvard University in 1858 and presented a series of Lowell Institute lectures on The Mutual Relation of the Sciences in 1859. During his final years in Waltham, Hill served on the Waltham School Committee and was constantly encouraging and promoting new ideas and methods of instruction, including the introduction of phonetic spelling in the public schools.

In 1859, Hill accepted the presidency of Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Hill's appointment was ill-timed, however, as the American Civil War forced the college to close in 1862. That same year Cornelius Conway Felton, the President of Harvard University, died suddenly, and Hill was asked to succeed him.

Returning to Harvard University, Hill had high hopes for the future and brought about a number of changes. Under his administration, the undergraduate curriculum adopted an elective system, permitting student choice in selecting courses. The standards for admission were raised, an Academic Council made up of the faculties of the college and professional schools was established, scholarships for the support of graduate students were endowed, a program of University Lecturers was introduced, and new chairs for professorships in geology and mining were founded.

Despite these apparent successes, Hill's years at Harvard were not happy. He had difficulty in his dealings with faculty and in governing the University. In addition, his first wife, Ann, died while he was in office and his second wife, Lucy, suffered from an incurable illness. Hill's experience with his own physical problems at this time also contributed to his unhappiness. Tired and overwhelmed both personally and professionally, Hill resigned his office in 1868.

After the death of his wife Lucy in 1869, Hill spent a year resting and traveling. In 1871 he was elected to the Massachusetts state legislature from Waltham and served for one year. In 1872, Hill sailed with his friend Louis Agassiz on an expedition to South America. Returning to the ministry in 1873, Hill accepted a position at the First Church in Portland, Maine. For the next eighteen years, Hill was happy spending his time preaching, writing, lecturing, and pursuing scientific and educational experiments.

In 1891, Hill became ill, suffered for several months, and died in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Thomas Hill married Ann Foster Bellows (1817-1864) on November 27, 1845. They had six children: Mary Bellows Hill (born 1847), Henry Barker Hill (born 1849), Katherine Hill (born 1851), Elizabeth Joy Hill (born 1854), Anne Bellows Hill (born 1857), and Thomas Roby Hill (born 1864). After Ann's death, Hill married Lucy Elizabeth Shepard (1837-1869) on July 23, 1866. They had one son, Otis Shepard Hill (born 1868).

Parents and siblings Father: Thomas Hill (1771-1828) Mother: Ann Capnerhurst (died 1793) Mother: Henrietta Barker (1774-1824) Brother: William B. Hill (1799-1845) Brother: John B. Hill (1806-1874) Sister: Henrietta B. Hill (1807-1862) Sister: Ann C. (Hill) Carpenter (1810-1880) Sister: Elisa B. (Hill) Gray (1812-1884) Sister: Matilda B. Hill (1814-1830) Half-brother: Samuel Hill (born 1793) Half-sister[?]: Mary Hill Spouses and children Wife: Ann Foster Bellows (1817-1864) Wife: Lucy Elizabeth Shepard (1837-1869) Daugher: Mary Bellows (Hill) Pierce (1847-1911) Son: Henry Barker Hill (1849-1903) Daughter: Katherine Hill (1851-1926) Daughter: Elizabeth Joy (Hill) Worcester (born 1854) Daughter: Ann Bellows (Hill) Monks (born 1857) Son: Thomas Roby Hill (1864-1923) Son: Otis Shepard Hill (born 1868) Grandchildren Grandson: Edward G. Hill (born 1872) Grandson: Henry Hill Pierce (born 1875) Grandson: Thomas Lewis Pierce (born 1877) Grandson: John Alexander Pierce (born 1878) Granddaughter: Mary E. Pierce (born 1881) Grandson: Maurice Rumford Pierce (born 1887) Land, William G.Thomas Hill, President of Harvard, 1862-1868.Harvard Alumni Bulletin, (May, 1933) : 832-834. Land, William G.Thomas Hill. In Dictionary of American Biography, Vol. IX, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1933. Land, William G.Thomas Hill, Twentieth President of Harvard.Cambridge, Massachusetts:Harvard University Press,1933. Morison, Samuel Eliot.Three Centuries of Harvard, 1636-1936.Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press,1936.

From the guide to the Papers of Thomas Hill, 1794-1930., (Harvard University Archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Autograph File, H, 1584-1988. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Joseph Winlock letterbook, 1857-1875, 1857-1875 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Harvard University. Corporation. Committee on Admitting Women to the Medical School. Report, 1867 Mar. 23. Harvard University, Archives
referencedIn James Freeman Clarke additional correspondence, 1787-1886. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Harvard College (1780- ). Class of 1864. Photographs, [1864]. Maine Historical Society Library
referencedIn James Russell Lowell papers, 1835-1919. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Hill, Thomas, 1818-1891. Letter of recommendation, 1864, February 4, Cambridge, Mass. Brown University, John Hay Library
referencedIn Ralph Waldo Emerson letters from various correspondents, ca. 1814-1882. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Samuel Henshaw letters from various correspondents, 1849-1937 and undated. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Hill, Thomas, 1818-1891. Bond to Harvard College, August 30, 1839. Harvard University, Archives
referencedIn Howells family papers, 1850-1954 (inclusive). Houghton Library.
creatorOf Appleton, Nathan, 1843-1906. Scrapbooks, 1845-1895, bulk: 1859-1895. Massachusetts Historical Society
referencedIn Winlock, Joseph, 1826-1875. Letterbook, 1857-1875. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Palfrey family papers, 1713-1915. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Papers of Thomas Hill, 1794-1930. Harvard University Archives.
creatorOf Hill, Thomas, 1818-1891. Note from Thomas Hill to John W. Bacon, [ca. 1840?] Harvard University, Archives
creatorOf Adams, Charles Francis, 1835-1915. Topical pamphlet collection, <1741>-<1996>. Concord Free Public Library, Special Collection
creatorOf Knapp, Frederick N. (Frederick Newman), 1821-1889. Papers, 1860-1889. Library of Congress
referencedIn Land, William Goodfellow, 1907-. Notes for: Thomas Hill, twentieth president of Harvard, ca. 1933. Harvard University, Archives
referencedIn Letters to Charles Eliot Norton and other papers, 1702-1952. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Hill, Thomas, 1818-1891. Letter of Thomas Hill to Samuel F. Jayne, notifying Jayne of his admission to Harvard College, September 16, 1863. Harvard University, Archives
creatorOf Hill, Thomas, 1818-1891. Letter to James Henry Blake, written on the Hassler Expedition, 1871 or 1872. Harvard University, Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology
creatorOf Hill, Thomas, 1818-1891. Letter to Rev. William Henry Furness, ca. 1862-1868. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Letters to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1761-1904 (inclusive) 1820-1888 (bulk). Houghton Library.
creatorOf Hill, Thomas, 1818-1891. Papers of Thomas Hill, 1794-1930. Harvard University, Archives
creatorOf Alexander, John M. Papers. Ohio History Connection, Ohio Historical Society
creatorOf Craig, Austin, 1824-1881. Austin Craig and family papers, 1733-1956. Minnesota Historical Society Library
creatorOf Hill, Thomas, 1818-1891. "Here in Africa we may see" and "Out of his study's stifling air," poems written on the Hassler Expedition, 1871 or 1872. Harvard University, Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology
creatorOf Parker, Joel, 1795-1875. Letters, 1853-1866 Harvard Law School Library, HLS Library
creatorOf Hill, Thomas, 1818-1891. Announcement of a course of lectures on the natural history of domesticated animals to be given by Prof. Louis Agassiz, 1864. Harvard University, Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology
creatorOf Hill, Thomas, 1818-1891. Thomas Hill letter to William Wheeler [manuscript], 1866 Mar 16. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Phelps, Edward H. Letter regarding President Hill's objections to coverage of Harvard in the Springfield Republican newspaper, 28 September 1864. Harvard University, Archives
referencedIn May, Samuel J. (Samuel Joseph), 1797-1871. Samuel J. May diary, 1870. Cornell University Library
creatorOf Scudder, Horace Elisha, 1838-1902. Letters received, 1876-1877. Boston Athenaeum
creatorOf Southworth, A. Sydney. Letters, 1839-1845, Brooklyn, Conn., Boston, etc., to George Shepard Burleigh, Plainfield, Conn. Brown University, John Hay Library
referencedIn Charles Eliot Norton papers, ca.1845-1908. Houghton Library.
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Agassiz, Louis, 1807-1873. person
correspondedWith Alexander J. Ellis person
associatedWith Alexander, John M. person
correspondedWith Alexander Melville Bell person
correspondedWith Amelia B. Edwards person
associatedWith Appleton, Nathan, 1843-1906. person
associatedWith Bacon, John William, 1818-1888. person
correspondedWith Benny Benjamin Peirce person
associatedWith Blake, James Henry, 1845-1941. person
correspondedWith C. C. Felton person
correspondedWith Charles A. Dana person
correspondedWith Charles Carroll Everett person
correspondedWith Charles W. Eliot person
associatedWith Clarke, James Freeman, 1810-1888 person
associatedWith Craig, Austin, 1824-1881. person
correspondedWith Edward Everett Hale person
correspondedWith Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 1803-1882 person
correspondedWith Fries, Wulf person
associatedWith Furness, William H. (William Henry), 1802-1896. person
correspondedWith G. B. Emerson person
correspondedWith Greeley, Horace person
associatedWith Harvard College (1780- ) corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard College (1780- ). Class of 1864. corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard University corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard University. Corporation. Committee on Admitting Women to the Medical School. corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard University. Museum of Comparative Zoology. corporateBody
associatedWith Hassler Expedition (1871-1872) corporateBody
associatedWith Hassler Expedition (1871-1872) corporateBody
correspondedWith Henry, Joseph person
correspondedWith Henry W. Bellows person
correspondedWith Henry W. Longfellow person
associatedWith Henshaw, Samuel, 1852-1941 person
correspondedWith James Freeman Clarke person
correspondedWith James M. Barnard person
associatedWith Jayne, Samuel F. person
correspondedWith John Greenleaf Whittier person
correspondedWith J. R. Lowell person
associatedWith Knapp, Frederick N. (Frederick Newman), 1821-1889. person
associatedWith Land, William Goodfellow, 1907- person
correspondedWith Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, 1807-1882 person
correspondedWith Lowell, James Russell, 1819-1891 person
associatedWith May, Samuel J. (Samuel Joseph), 1797-1871. person
correspondedWith Mr. Guild person
correspondedWith Norton, Charles Eliot, 1827-1908 person
correspondedWith Oliver Wendell Holmes person
correspondedWith Palfrey family. family
associatedWith Parker, Joel, 1795-1875. person
correspondedWith Peirce, Benjamin person
associatedWith Phelps, Edward H. person
correspondedWith Quincy, Josiah person
correspondedWith Robert E. Winthrop person
correspondedWith Rufus P. Stebbins person
correspondedWith Sarah A. Ripley person
associatedWith Scudder, Horace Elisha, 1838-1902. person
associatedWith Soule, Richard, 1812-1877. person
associatedWith Southworth, A. Sydney. person
associatedWith Thomas Hubbard Sumner person
correspondedWith Thomas Starr King person
correspondedWith Thomas Wentworth Higginson person
associatedWith Wales, Benjamin Read. person
correspondedWith W. G. Eliot person
associatedWith Wheeler, William Adolphus, 1833-1874, person
correspondedWith W. H. Furness person
correspondedWith William A. Richardson person
associatedWith William Goodfellow Land person
associatedWith Winlock, Joseph, 1826-1875. person
correspondedWith Wyman, Morril person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Massachusetts--Waltham
Massachusetts--Cambridge
Maine--Portland
Subject
English language--Rhetoric--Study and teaching (Higher)
Clergy
Phonetic alphabet
Unitarian churches--Clergy
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1818-01-07

Death 1891-11-21

Americans

English

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