Ohio History Journal

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Elias Loomis and the Loomis Observatory

Elias Loomis and the Loomis Observatory






ON APRIL 14, 1836, the trustees of Western Reserve College

in Hudson, Ohio, made some very significant decisions. Their

meeting opened with prayer, as usual, and eventually the dis-

cussion turned to the vacancy in the mathematics and natural

philosophy department. The Rev. Jarvis Gregg had been

filling this position, but he was appointed to the chair of

sacred rhetoric, making it necessary to appoint a new pro-

fessor in his place. The result of the trustees' discussion was

that Elias Loomis of Yale was elected to succeed him. Follow-

ing this decision, the trustees appropriated $4,000 for the

purpose of purchasing philosophical and astronomical appa-

ratus,1 no small sum in days when the annual salary paid

professors was $600.2

The hiring of Elias Loomis and the appropriation of $4,000

for equipment were far-sighted actions which proved to be

very wise. With the coming of Loomis, astronomy was

introduced into the curriculum at Western Reserve College

and the mathematics and natural philosophy department was

greatly strengthened, because the former professor, Jarvis

Gregg, was a minister who had not been greatly interested in

those subjects. Loomis, on the other hand, was well prepared

to teach both subjects.

* Bonnie S. Stadelman received an M.A. degree in history at Western Reserve

University in February 1960. She is a resident of Perry, Ohio.

1 Records of the Trustees of Western Reserve College, Hudson, Ohio, from

May 6, 1835, to July 12, 1855 (typewritten copy), p. 144; to be cited hereafter as

Records of the Trustees. Western Reserve University Archives, Western Reserve


2 Ibid., 137.