Special Collections and University Archives
403 Parks Library | 701 Morrill Road
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011-2102

RS 13/20/11
William A. Anthony Collection, 1868-1922, undated

Descriptive summary

title: William A. Anthony collection
dates: 1868-1922, undated
extent: 0.21 linear feet (1 half-document box)
collection number: RS 13/20/11
repository: University Archives, Iowa State University Library Special Collections and University Archives.
language: English


Administrative information

access: Open for research
publication rights: Consult Special Collections and University Archives
preferred citation: William A. Anthony collection, RS 13/20/11, Iowa State University Library Special Collections and University Archives.


Access points

people, families, and corporate bodies:

Anthony, William A. (William Arnold), 1835-1908.
Iowa State Agricultural College and Farm -- Faculty. 

Iowa State University. Department of Physics and Astronomy -- Faculty.
subjects: Physics -- Study and teaching (Higher)

Lecture notes

Minutes (administrative records)



William A. Anthony (1835-1908) was born near Anthony, Rhode Island. He attended both Brown University and Yale University, and taught in a few colleges before coming to Iowa Agricultural College (now Iowa State University) where he became the first professor of physics and Mechanics in 1870. After leaving Iowa State at the end of 1872 he had a long career at Cornell University before becoming a private consultant and part-time instructor in New York. This collection is comprised of copies of Board of Trustees minutes concerning his time here at Iowa State, biographical publications from Cornell University following his death in 1908, and personal correspondence between botany Professor Louis H. Pammel and some of Professor Anthony's students. The correspondence originated while Pammel was compiling items pertaining to the history of Iowa State.


Biographical note

William Arnold Anthony was born on November 17, 1835 near the village of Anthony, Rhode Island and died on May 29, 1908 in New York, New York. Anthony began his college education at Brown University (1854-1855), but transferred to the Yale Scientific School (later the Sheffield Scientific School, now fully integrated into Yale University) where he briefly took classes (1855-1856) before he began working as assistant faculty, ultimately receiving an honorary Ph.B. (1860) in engineering. Prior to coming to Iowa Agricultural College (now Iowa State University), he also taught at the Providence Conference Seminary, the Delaware Literary Institute, and Antioch College.

While at the Delaware Literary Institute he worked with George William Jones who came to Iowa State and was elected to be head of the Board of Trustees prior to May 1868. At that time Anthony, who was then at Antioch College, was first recommended as a suitable instructor. Anthony was offered a position and became Iowa State's first professor of physics and Mechanics for the fall term in 1870. He remained here until the end of 1872 when he tendered his resignation, citing lack of support/compensation for the work he was expected to do as building superintendent beyond what he believed his position of professor entailed. Professor John K. Macomber replaced him as the physics instructor at Iowa State starting with the spring 1873 term. Anthony went on to teach physics at Cornell University until 1887. At that time, Anthony left Cornell and became a consulting electrical engineer in a number of locations in the vicinity of New York City, where he eventually moved in 1894 when he again took up teaching as the Professor of Physics and Electrical Engineering at Cooper Union and served as a guest lecturer at Columbia University.

Anthony was a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, an early member of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, the Physical Society at the Franklin Institute, and of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences. He was praised by students for his lecturing style and especially for his use of in-class experiments as demonstrations of principles.

He married Eliza Matilda Girven on June 29, 1861 with whom he had three children. He died in his home in New York City on May 29, 1908.


Collection description

This collection (1868-1922, undated) consists of copies of pages from the Iowa State Board of Trustees Minutes pertaining to the hiring of Professor Anthony and his time here, a few pages from a book of lecture notes he produced for his classes at Cooper Union, correspondence between Professor L. H. Pammel and some of Professor Anthony's former students, and official publications from Cornell University about Professor Anthony following his death.


Related materials

Board of Trustees Minutes (RS 1/8, Book 1)

Louis Hermann Pammel Papers (RS 13/5/13) (pdf file)

Additional collections related to the Department of Physics are classified under the RS 13/20 record series and can be found through the department's website.



Materials are organized roughly chronologically.


Container list







Biographical material, lecture notes, correspondence (copies)

1868-1922, undated