Dicke, Robert J. (ed.) / Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters
volume XLIV (1955)
Irrmann, Robert H.
A Harvard graduate goes west: Robert Adams Coker and the Highland School in the 1830's, pp. 91-107 ff. PDF (6.5 MB)
91A HARVARD GRADUATE GOES WEST: ROBERT ADAMS COKER AND THE HIGHLAND SCHOOL IN THE 1830's ROBERT H. IRRMANN Associate Professor of History, Archivist of the College, Be~oit College Robert Adams Coker of West Newbury, Massachusetts, born March 19, 1807, was a member of the Harvard College Class of 1831, one of the lesser lights who flickered briefly and then "went out" to an early grave in March of 1833. The Class of 1831 fostered some of the greatest names in the mid-l9th century, among them Thomas Gold Appleton, Francis Gardner Jr., John Hopkins Morison, John Lothrop Motley, and perhaps above all, Wendell Phillips. Robert Coker was not of their calibre; his brief life, post-Harvard, might well be termed the "short and simple annals of the poor in health". Suffering from consumption while in Harvard College, he was dead within little more than eighteen months of his graduation. A mathematics major in college, Coker did what so many scholars were forced to do to make their way through college: he "kept school" at intervals, in accord with the agreement of the Government of Harvard College. On November 3, 1828, early in his sophomore year, Coker with many others in his class was given leave "to keep school agreeably to the regulations voted October 26th . . ."~ Upon his graduation, he pursued his profession as a teacher of mathematics, and for a time taught in an academy in Francestown, New Hampshire, in the winter and lHarvard College: Records of the Immediate Governni ext of Harvard College, Volume X (Septr. 1822). (Manuscript records, Harvard College Archives, Cambridge, Massachusetts), October 28, 1828: "Application for leave to keep school to be made on or before Monday, Nov. 3 & notice to this purpose to be given to the several classes tomorrow morning . "It was voted, that the following directions be printed, and a copy put into the hands of each student who has to keep school, viz. "Students, who are entitled to the privilege by their diligence and good conduct, and whose circumstances are such as to require it, are allowed to keep school for a time not exceeding ten weeks, including the winter vacation. "Those to whom this privilege is granted, are required to report themselves to the presiding officer on the day of theIr return to college, with a certificate, stating the time during which they were emp'oyed In the School; also to be prepared to pass an examination in all those studies, which their class shall have gone over, which are necessary to their proceeding on with them in their future studies. "If any student shall exceed the term of ten weeks, he is requIred to be examined In all the studies of his class during the who1~ time of his absence, and if he fail to pass a satisfactory examination, his connexion with the college shall cease." Faculty Records, X. pp. 189—190. Coker was granted leave to teach, November 3, 1828. Ibid., X, 191. He "kept school" at Lexington, Massachusetts.
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