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Robert Allen Coffin

A Stan Klos Edited Biography

COFFIN, Robert Allen, educator, born in Williamsburg, Massachusetts, 23 August, 1801; died in Conway, Massachusetts, 4 September, 1878. He was graduated at Amherst in 1825, after which he taught in Northampton, and became principal of academies in New Ipswich, New Hampshire, Warren, Rhode Island, New Bedford, Massachusetts, and elsewhere.

 

His last years were spent in Conway, Massachusetts, where he was chiefly employed as an accountant, though giving instruction almost to the last. In 1856-'7 he represented Conway in the Massachusetts legislature. Mr. Coffin was an occasional contributor to the religious magazines, and published "Compendium of Natural Philosophy" (New York, 1844); " Town Organization: its Uses and Advantages," a prize essay (Boston, 1845); and "History of Conway" (Northampton, 1867).

 

--His brother, James Henry Coffin, meteorologist, born in Williamsburg, Massachusetts, 6 September, 1806: died in Easton, Pennsylvania, 6 February, 1873. He was graduated at Amherst in 1828, supporting himself by teaching in a private school in Berkshire County. In 1829 he established the Fellenberg academy in Greenfield, Massachusetts, the first and most successful manual-labor school in the country. From 1837 till 1840 he was principal of the Ogdensburg, New York, academy, and while there he began his investigations in meteorology.

 

In 1840 he was elected a tutor in Williams, and erected an observatory upon the Greylock peak of Saddle mountain, at a height of nearly 4,000 feet above the ocean, where continuous observations were taken by a self-registering anemometer which he devised. From 1843 till 1846 he was principal of the Norwalk, Connecticut, academy, and then was elected to the chair of mathematics and astronomy in Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania, where he remained until his death. Prof. Coffin's reputation depends chiefly upon his work in meteorology. In 1853 he announced before the American association for the advancement of science his theory of atmospheric circulation, including the principle, quoted in Europe since 1860 as "Buys-Ballot's Law."

 

Besides the numerous valuable papers published in the transactions and proceedings of the societies of which he was a member, there appeared among the publications of the Smithsonian institution "Winds of the Northern Hemisphere" (1853); "Psychrometrical Tables " (1856); " The Orbit and Phenomena of a Meteoric Fire Ball" (1869); and "The Winds of the Globe, or the Laws of Atmospheric Circulation over the Surface of the Earth" (1875). The two large quarto volumes of the "Results of Meteorological Observations for 1854-'9" were edited for the Smithsonian institution by him. He also published "Exercises in Book-keeping" and "Key" (Greenfield, 1835); "Elements of Conic Sections and Analytical Geometry" (New York, 1849); "Key" (1854); and "Solar and Lunar Eclipses" (1845).

 

Prof. Coffin was one of the early members of the National academy of sciences, and a sketch of his life by Arnold Guyot appears in the "Biographical Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences" (Washington, 1877). See also "Life" by John C. Clyde (Easton, 1882).

 

--His son, Selden Jennings Coffin, educator, born in Ogdensburg, New York, 3 August, 1838, was graduated at Lafayette in 1858, and at Princeton theological seminary in 1864. During the same year he became connected with Lafayette College, where he has held the offices of tutor and adjunct professor of mathematics. On the death of his father in 1873 he became professor of mathematics and astronomy, and in 1874 was ordained by the presbytery of Lehigh. In 1876 he was commissioned by the state of Pennsylvania to secure the "College exhibits" for the educational building at the Centennial exhibition.

 

Prof. Coffin has served on various committees of the American association for the advancement of science, and has been a frequent contributor to the scientific journals of articles on meteorology. Besides minor biographical pamphlets, he has published "Record of the Men of Lafayette" (Easton, 1879), and revised "Olmsted's Astronomy" (New York, 1882). He has also completed "The Winds of the Globe" (Washington, 1875), written by his father, said to be the largest collection of numerical tables ever published in the United States.

 

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia by John Looby, Copyright © 2001 StanKlos.comTM

COFFIN, Robert Allen, educator, born in Williamsburg, Massachusetts, 23 August, 1801; died in Conway, Massachusetts, 4 September, 1878. He was graduated at Amherst in 1825, after which he taught in Northampton, and became principal of academies in New Ipswich, New Hampshire, Warren, Rhode Island, New Bedford, Massachusetts, and elsewhere. His last years were spent in Conway, Massachusetts, where he was chiefly employed as an accountant, though giving instruction almost to the last. In 1856-'7 ha ropresented Conway in the Massachusetts legislature. Mr. Coffin was an occasional contributor to the religious magazines, and published "Compendium of Natural Philosophy" (New York, 1844); " Town Organization: its Uses and Advantages," a prize essay (Boston, 1845); and "History of Conway" (Northampton, 1867).--His brother, James Henry, meteorologist, born in Williamsburg, Massachusetts, 6 September, 1806: died in Easton, Pennsylvania, 6 February, 1873. He was graduated at Amherst in 1828, supporting himself by teaching in a private school in Berkshire county. In 1829 he established the Fellenberg academy in 676 COFFIN Greenfield, Massachusetts, the first and most successful manual-labor school in the country. From 1837 till 1840 he was principal of the Ogdensburg, New York, academy, and while there he began his investigations in meteorology. In 1840 he was elected a tutor in Williams, and erected an observatory upon the Greylock peak of Saddle mountain, at a height of nearly 4,000 feet above the ocean, where continuous observations were taken by a self-registering anemometer which he devised. From 1843 till 1846 he was principal of the Norwalk, Connecticut, academy, and then was elected to the chair of mathematics and astronomy in Lafayette College, East-on, Pennsylvania, where he remained until his death. Prof. Coffin's reputation depends chiefly upon his work in meteorology. In 1853 he announced before the American association for the advancement of science his theory of atmospheric circulation, including the principle, quoted in Europe since 1860 as " Buys-Ballot's Law." Besides the numerous valuable papers published in the transactions and proceedings of the societies of which he was a member, there appeared among the publications of the Smithsonian institution " Winds of the Northern Hemisphere" (1853); "Psychrometrical Tables " (1856); " The Orbit and Phenomena of a Meteoric Fire Ball" (1869); and " The Winds of the Globe, or the Laws of Atmospheric Circulation over the Surface of the Earth" (1875). The two large quarto volumes of the "Results of Meteorological Observations for 1854-'9" were edited for the Smithsonian institution by him. He also published "Exercises in Book-keeping" and "Key" (Greenfield, 1835); "Elements of Conic Sections and Analytical Geometry" (New York, 1849); "Key" (1854); and "Solar and Lunar Eclipses" (1845). Prof. Coffin was one of the early members of the National academy of sciences, and a sketch of his life by Arnold Guyot appears in the "Biographical Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences" (Washington, 1877). See also "Life" by John C. Clyde (Easton, 1882).--His son, Selden Jennings, educator, born in Ogdensburg, New York, 3 August, 1838, was graduated at Lafayette in 1858, and at Princeton theological seminary in 1864. During the same year he became connected with Lafayette College, where he has held the offices of tutor and adjunct professor of mathematics. On the death of his father in 1873 he became professor of mathematics and astronomy, and in 1874 was ordained by the presbytery of Lehigh. In 1876 he was commissioned by the state of Pennsylvania to secure the "College exhibits" for the educational building at the Centennial exhibition. Prof. Coffin has served on various committees of the American association for the advancement of science, and has been a frequent contributor to the scientific journals of articles on meteorology. Besides minor biographical pamphlets, he has published "Record of the Men of Lafayette" (Easton, 1879), and revised "Olmsted's Astronomy" (New York, 1882). He has also completed "The Winds of the Globe" (Washington, 1875), written by his father, said to be the largest collection of numerical tables ever published in the United States.

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright © 2001 VirtualologyTM

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