Frederick Augustus Porter Barnard

Frederick Augustus Porter Barnard bigraphy, stories - Presidents

Frederick Augustus Porter Barnard : biography

May 5, 1809 – April 27, 1889

Frederick Augustus Porter Barnard (May 5, 1809 – April 27, 1889) was an American scientist and educationalist.


Australia map compiled by [[Arnold Henry Guyot and Frederick Augustus Porter Barnard]] Frederick Augustus Porter Barnard was born in Sheffield, Massachusetts, on May 5, 1809. In 1828 he graduated, second on the honour list, at Yale University, where he was a member of the Linonian Society. He was then in turn a tutor at Yale, and as he began to lose his hearing due to a hereditary condition he became a teacher (1831—1832) in the American Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb at Hartford, Connecticut, and a teacher (1832—1838) in the New York Institute for the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb.

From 1838 to 1848 he was professor of mathematics and natural philosophy, and from 1848 to 1854 was professor of chemistry and natural history in the University of Alabama, for two years, also, filling the chair of English literature. In 1854 he was ordained as deacon in the Protestant Episcopal Church. In the same year he became professor of mathematics and natural philosophy in the University of Mississippi, of which institution he was chancellor from 1856 until the outbreak of the Civil War, when, his sympathies being with the North, he resigned and went to Washington. Barnard Observatory, one of the few buildings on the Ole Miss campus to survive the Civil War, is named in his honor.

In 1860, he was one of the party sent to Labrador to observe an eclipse of the sun; in 1862 he was at work on the reduction of Gilliss’s observations of the stars of the southern hemisphere, and in 1863 he superintended the publication of maps and charts of the United States Coast Survey. He was elected an Associate Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1860. He was president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1866; a member of the board of experts of the American Bureau of Mines in 1865, and a member of the American Institute in 1872.

In 1864 he became the tenth president of Columbia College (now Columbia University) in New York City, which position he held until the year before his death, his service thus being longer than that of any of his predecessors. During this period the growth of the college was rapid; new departments were established; the elective system was greatly extended; more adequate provision was made for graduate study and original research, and the enrollment was increased from about 150 to more than 1000 students. Barnard strove to have educational privileges extended by the university to women as well as to men, and Barnard College, for women, established immediately after his death, was named in his honour.

Barnard was a classical and English scholar, a mathematician, a physicist, a chemist, and a good public speaker. His annual reports to the Board of Trustees of Columbia included valuable discussions of educational problems.

Barnard and Arnold Henry Guyot were Editors-in-Chief of the 1876 Johnson’s New Universal Cyclopaedia.

Barnard wrote Treatise on Arithmetic (1830); an Analytical Grammar with Symbolic Illustration (1836); Letters on Collegiate Government (1855); History of the United States Coast Survey (1857); Recent Progress in Science (1869); and The Metric System (1871).

He died in New York City on the 27th of April 1889. He left the bulk of his property to Columbia College.


His brother, John G. Barnard was a career engineering officer in the U.S. Army, serving as the Superintendent of the United States Military Academy and then as a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War.