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Hist. Soc. 3 March 1941


THERE is no institution at the present time in which a more general interest is taken by Philadelphians than in the University of Pennsylvania. Through its various schools and departments its influence is felt in the homes of thousands of our citizens, and with each succeeding year the sphere of that influence is being extended throughout the State. The activity which is always connected with the organization of a new movement has made the public familiar with the history of those departments which have been lately added to the University; but of the history of the parent school little has been written, and that little is not of easy access to the public. The first contribution in this line was the historical sketch written by the late Dr. George B. Wood in 1827, and printed in the third volume of the Memoirs


of The Historical Society of Pennsylvania in 1834. It was subsequently included in a volume of "Historical and Biographical Memoirs" by Dr. Wood, published in 1872. The next contributions of importance were a Memoir of the Rev. William Smith, D.D., Provost of the College, Academy, and Charitable School of Philadelphia, by Charles J. Stillé, in 1869; and, in the same year, a History of the Medical Department of the University of Pennsylvania, from its foundation to 1865, by Joseph Carson, M.D. The information contained in Dr. Stillé's excellent memoir was afterwards used, with additions, in a Life of Dr. Smith by his great-grandson, Horace W. Smith, two volumes, octavo, 1879-1880.

Some of these works have been long out of print, and the remnants of the editions of others have been virtually withdrawn from the channels of trade. In 1893, a bulky pamphlet, containing the history of the University and of its several departments, written by many hands and edited by Dr. Francis Newton Thorpe,

was issued by the government as one of the publications of the Bureau of Education, under the title of "Benjamin Franklin and the University of Pennsylvania." But it was attended with the fatality common to many of the publications of the government which are classed as Public Documents and are obtainable only through an application to a department or to a member of Congress. Under these circumstances, an alumnus of the University, who takes an interest in its history and who feels that such is the case with many of its graduates, requested the editor to prepare for publication at his expense a new edition of Dr. Wood's History, adding thereto such information regarding the foundation of the institution as has come to light since the History was written. With the permission of the representatives of Dr. Wood, this has been done; and, as no attempt has been made to bring the history down beyond the time when Dr. Wood closed his labours, the title of his work has been changed to read, "The Early History of the University."

The last six chapters of the book are by the present writer, and he alone is responsible for the views expressed in them. He cannot but feel that Chapter XV. will appear to many unnecessarily long, and that its style is too controversial to be in harmony with that of other portions of the book. The subject, however, the very origin of the University,-was of such a character that it could not be treated otherwise, and its importance he hopes will be found to justify the length.

Portraits of the early benefactors and professors of the University, together with fac-similes of documents connected with its history, have been added to the present edition; and the editor wishes to express to Messrs. Harper and Brothers his thanks for the use of the electrotype of the miniature of Franklin which will be found in the volume.



THE author of the following sketch, having been appointed to deliver the anniversary address before the Philomathean Society of the University of Pennsylvania, in the year 1826, was induced to make some investigations into the history of that institution, the results of which were stated, in general terms, on the occasion referred to. In the course of his inquiries, numerous facts presented themselves, which, though not sufficiently important to claim a place in a brief address, appeared to him too much so to be passed over with neglect; and the idea occurred to him, that a history of the University, for the preparation of which he possessed some materials, was due to the relation in which the Institution was placed to the State and city, and might prove interesting, if not serviceable to the community.

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