Dept. of Chemistry
The first references to the teaching of chemistry at the College of William and Mary occur near the end of the 18th century. Bishop James Madison, president of the College from 1777 to 1812 and the first Episcopal Bishop of Virginia, included lectures on chemistry in his Natural Philosophy curriculum as early as 1772. In 1779 a Professorship of Anatomy, Medicine, and Chemistry was established and held by James McClurg until 1800. No record exists of what McClurg taught as chemistry. Since this professorship was not renewed after 1800, it appears that chemistry as we generally think of it was taught under Natural Philosophy and that McClurg emphasized anatomy and medicine. Chemistry continued as part of the curriculum through the nineteenth century under the professorship of natural philosophy. The most prominent of these 19th century professors was William Barton Rogers, who spent seventeen years in Virginia before leaving for Boston as a founder and first president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1927, William and Mary dedicated its new chemistry and physics building to Rogers Hall; this building is the current Tyler Hall (the current Rogers Hall was completed in 1975). In 1905 chemistry became an autonomous department with its own professor. Physics and biology also became departments at this time. The traditional rubric of natural philosophy was abandoned.
Material in the Special Collections Research Center
- Dept. of Chemistry in the SCRC database.
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