Records of Jacob Bigelow, Rumford Professor and Lecturer on the Application of Science to the Useful Arts
.22 cubic feet (1 legal half-document box)
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.
Historical Note on Jacob Bigelow
As the Rumford Professor at Harvard, Bigelow's objective was to apply scientific principles to improve daily life and the human condition. Although Bigelow only served as Rumford professor for eleven years, he helped solidify the teaching of the applied sciences at Harvard. As a classroom instructor, Bigelow taught his students using scientific demonstrations and experiments. Bigelow created a large collection of working models to demonstrate scientific principles in his lectures. He built architectural working models of domes, roofs, arches, walls, and columns; models of chimney stoves and fireplaces; various steam engines, windmills, and watermills; and three working models of the Waltham, Massachusetts cotton factory. Subjects discussed in his classroom involved the strength of various materials, the methods of illumination, heating, ventilation, metallurgy, writing and printing, engraving and lithography, locomotion, machinery, horology, and the preservation of organic substances. Bigelow's lectures were delivered to large audiences each semester. Seeking a more accurate word to describe the application of practical knowledge and instruction, Bigelow coined the term "technology" to describe the use of scientific ideas in the useful arts, and in 1829, Bigelow published his lectures under the title Elements of Technology, taken chiefly from a Course of Lectures delivered at Cambridge, on the Application of the Sciences to the Useful Arts.
- Correspondence, 1816-1823
- Reports, 1826-1827
- Plan of lectures, [ca. 1816]
- Description of Corydalis Fungosa, a stem climbing plant, [ca. 1824]
- Bentinck-Smith, William and Elizabeth Stouffer. "Rumford Professorship, 1816." In Harvard University, History of Named Chairs: Sketches of Donors and Donations. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Secretary to the University, 1991.
- Cohen, I. Bernard. Some Early Tools of American Science: An Account of the Early Scientific Instruments and Mineralogical and Biological Collections in Harvard University. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1950.
- James, Mary Ann. "Engineering and Environment for Change: Bigelow, Peirce, and Early Nineteenth-Century Practical Education at Harvard." In Science at Harvard University: Historical Perspectives. London: Associated University Presses, 1992.
- Peattie, Donald Culross and John F. Fulton. "Bigelow, Jacob." Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1943. 257-258.
- Quincy, Josiah. The History of Harvard University. Vol. II. Cambridge, Massachusetts: John Owen, 1840.
- Shapiro, Richard Alan. "The Rumford Professorship: An Analysis of the Development of Practical Science in Nineteenth-Century America." Bachelor's thesis, Harvard University, 1985.
This finding aid was created by Dominic P. Grandinetti in July 2011.
- Bigelow, Jacob, 1786-1879. Records of Jacob Bigelow, Rumford Professor and Lecturer on the Application of Science to the Useful Arts, 1816-1827: an inventory
- EAD ID
Part of the Harvard University Archives Repository
Holding nearly four centuries of materials, the Harvard University Archives is the principal repository for the institutional records of Harvard University and the personal archives of Harvard faculty, as well as collections related to students, alumni, Harvard-affiliates and other associated topics. The collections document the intellectual, cultural, administrative and social life of Harvard and the influence of the University as it emerged across the globe.
Cambridge MA 02138 USA