Office of the President (Matthew Buckham) Records
Scope and Content note
The collection consists of University of Vermont related correspondence dealing with such matters as the Agricultural Experimental Station, faculty appointments, and the donation of the Rush Hawkins Civil War book collection and sale of the Marsh book collection to the University of Vermont. Also included is correspondence with President Buckham by numerous members of the University and state of Vermont communities, including U.S. Senator Justin S. Morrill, sponsor of the Morrill Land Grant bill; Frederick Billings, benefactor to the university; and H.H. Richardson, architect of the Billings Library.
Concluding the collection are a number of Buckham family papers, and a large collection of President Buckham’s baccalaureate sermons, lectures, and addresses.
- University of Vermont. Office of the President (Organization)
- Buckham, M. H. (Matthew Henry) (Person)
Collection is open for research.
All requests for permission to publish or quote from this collection must be submitted in writing to the University Archivist.
Matthew Buckham was born in Hinckley, Leicestershire, England, in 1832. His father, a clergyman, moved to Vermont in 1834 and preached at various parishes, including Chelsea, Vermont. Like John Wheeler, Buckham graduated from UVM at an early age, finding a position as a high school principal at Lenox Academy in the Berkshires in Massachusetts. After two years' study at University College, London, he returned to Vermont in 1856 to teach Greek, rhetoric, and English literature at UVM. Elected president in 1871, he would serve the university the longest of any president, and the changes during his tenure set it on the way to becoming a modern university.
The first president not to have been ordained a minister, Buckham was in a sense the embodiment of a new age of expansion and modernization. During his long tenure, the university's establishment as a land grant college not only increased its resources, enabling Buckham to add new faculty and courses, but mandated certain course requirements, both agricultural, scientific, and technological; and introduced new fields of study to the university. New curricula required new buildings, and during Buckham’s tenure, the university commenced a major expansion of classroom and laboratory space, as well as new housing for an expanded student population. Buckham had the Old Mill completely remodeled, changing its appearance from its original Federalist style to one of the High Gothic, and increasing classroom and dormitory space. Perhaps the most significant new construction was the building of Billings Library in 1885, funded by UVM graduate and railroad magnate Frederick Billings and designed by famed architect H. H. Richardson. Billings was also instrumental in bringing George Perkins Marsh’s library to UVM, a collection that added thousands of books to the library holdings.
The expansion begun during Buckham’s tenure would include, by the early twentieth century, eight new classroom and laboratory buildings, a new gymnasium, a new medical school, and three new dormitories for women students. For the most part, the cost of constructing these buildings was underwritten not by the state, but by wealthy alumni and friends of the university such as Frederick Billings and John Converse.
Also notable during Buckham’s tenure was the admission of women, enacted by the board of trustees the day before Buckham’s inauguration in August 1871. The first two graduates, Lila Mason and Ellen Hamilton, in 1875, were the first women in the country to be admitted to the Phi Beta Kappa honorary society; and the first woman faculty member, Bertha Terrill, was hired in 1909 to run the new home economics department. Also during this time, George Washington Henderson (UVM 1877) became the first African-American in the country to be inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. Finally, one of UVM's most famous alumni, educator John Dewey, graduated in 1879.
Sources consulted in the preparation of this note and others in Record Group 2 include:
Daniels, Robert V. editor. The University of Vermont : The First Two Hundred Years Hanover, NH : University of Vermont : Distributed by University Press of New England, c1991.
Lindsay, Julian Ira. Tradition Looks Forward; the University of Vermont: a history, 1791-1904. Burlington [University of Vermont and State Agricultural College] 1954.
Marshall, Jeffrey. Universitas Viridis Montis, 1791-1991: An Exhibition of documents and artifacts telling the story of the University of Vermont. Burlington, Vt.: University of Vermont, 1991.
Smallwood, Frank. The University of Vermont Presidents: Two Centuries of Leadership. Burlington, Vt.: University of Vermont, 1997.
1.83 Linear Feet (1 carton, 2 boxes)
Language of Materials
Matthew Buckham, a UVM graduate, taught Greek, rhetoric, and English literature at UVM, before becoming president in 1871, he would serve until 1910, the longest tenure of any president. The collection consists of University of Vermont related correspondence dealing with such matters as the Agricultural Experimental Station, faculty appointments, and the donation of the Rush Hawkins Civil War book collection and sale of the Marsh book collection to the University of Vermont. Also included in the collection are a number of Buckham family papers, and a large collection of President Buckham’s baccalaureate sermons, lectures, and addresses.
Library Research Annex; contact firstname.lastname@example.org for access.
- Guide to the Office of the President (Matthew Buckham) Records
- Sylvia Bugbee
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note