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Robert White McFarland (pro tempore; later considered to be regular), bulk: 1885 - 1888, 1884 - 1888

 Sub-Group — Box: 1; Presidency Materials; 1884-88; 13A-A-2C

Scope and Contents

Includes McFarland's correspondence and Annual Reports to the Miami University Board of Trustees.


  • Majority of material found within 1885 - 1888
  • 1884 - 1888


Conditions Governing Access

Materials do not circulate and are made available to users in the Miami University Archives.

Conditions Governing Use

Materials do circulate and may only be used in the archives.

Biographical / Historical

Robert White McFarland was born on June 16, 1825 in Champaign County, Ohio. He received an A.B. in 1847 and M.A. in 1850 from Ohio Wesleyan University. From 1853 to 1856, McFarland served on the faculty of Madison College. In 1856 he became Professor of Mathematics at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. During the Civil War, McFarland took leave from Miami to serve in the 86th Ohio Infantry. When Miami closed temporarily in 1873, McFarland was named first Professor of Mathematics, Astronomy, and Civil Engineering at the newly opened Ohio State University. In 1885 he became President Pro Tempore of the reopened Miami University. McFarland's tenure at Miami was brief, stormy but also generally successful. As President, he kept the University on a sound financial footing, promoted greater emphasis on the sciences in the University curriculum, and presided over the admission of the first women to Miami. However McFarland's policies met with opposition from a large proportion of faculty and the Board of Trustees, led by former Miami President Andrew Hepburn. In 1888, the Trustees requested the resignations of President McFarland and the entire faculty. McFarland was not rehired, and he subsequently worked as a civil engineer from 1888 to 1900. He died in Oxford, Ohio on October 23, 1910.

Biographical / Historical

Birth Death 1825-1910

Term 1885-88 [pro tem]

Biography Born, Champain Co., O., June 16, 1825; Son of Robert and Eunice (Dorsey) McFarland; A.B., Ohio Wesleyan University, 1847, A.M. 1850, LL. D., 1884; Married, Mary A. Smart, March 19, 1851. Teacher of Mathematics, Greenfield Sem., 1848-51; Supt. Pub. Schs., Chillicothe, O., 1851-53; Prof., mathematics, Madison Coll., Ohio, 1853-56, Miami U., 1856-73, Ohio State U., 1873-85; Pres., Miami U., 1885-88; Civil and mining engineer, 1888-1900; Emeritus Prof., civ. engring, Ohio State U., 1902- . Computed the eccentricity of the earth's orbit and the longitude of the perihelion for 4,500,000 yrs, at intervals of 10,000 yrs (Am. Jour. Science, 1860-63, vol. XX). Capt. Co. A. 86th Ohio Inf., 1862; lt. col., 1863-64. Editor 6 books of Virgil, 1849. Home: Oxford, O.. Died, October 23, 1910 [Who was Who, 1897-1942; Glos, Biographies of Men and Women for Who Miami Buildings are named]

Bibliography: Samuel W. Townsend, "The McFarland Administration," In Historical Addresses Delivered to the Alumni In Connection with the Centennial Commencement Exercises of Miami University, June 12-17, 1909. Miami Bulletin ser.8, n.3 (September 1909): 34-36.


1 Boxes

Language of Materials



President; Robert White McFarland; Presidency Materials; 1884-88; 1890 Box 1 [13A-A-2C] Files: 1. Certificate of McFarland's membership in the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1884?) 2. McFarland's Reports to the Board of Trustees (1884-88) 3. McFarland to Miami Board of Trustees accepting position at Miami (Columbus, March 1885) 4. W. E. Smith notes from the 1885 Oxford Citizen re. McFarland's inauguration and Oxford events during the year 5. McFarland's correspondence to J.W. Herron, President of the Miami Board of Trustees, re. daily prayers (2 letters- November 12, 1885; March 8, 1886) 6. McFarland's correspondence re. student disturbance at Western Female Seminary [building superintendent threatened with brass knuckles by Miami students] and student discipline (3 letters- November 25, 1885; June 1, 1886) 7. Student mathematics examinations and problems (1886) 8. McFarland to State Senator W. F. Eltzroth re. State appropriations for Miami (8 letters-February 5, 1886-March 17, 1887); Letter from Ernest H. Hahne to E.W. King, regarding Mr. Maple's gift of one of McFarland's 1887 letters to Eltzroth (June 9, 1949) 9. John H. Young to McFarland re. attempt to revive the Erodelphian and Union Literary Societies (Urbana, Neb., April 19, 1886) 10. Letters to McFarland acknowledging receipt of new catalogs and graduates' lists (1886-87)[some contain autobiographical information] [a]. Edward A. Guy (Cincinnati, June 9, 1886) [b]. George Thomas Crissman (Hastings, Neb., June 10, 1886) [c]. G. V. Halliday (Cincinnati, June 11, 1886) [d]. Frank Miller (Easton, Pa., June 17, 1886) [e]. David Tappan (Mount, Pleasant, Iowa, June 18, 1886) [f]. G. W. MacCracken (Urbana, June 19, 1886) [g]. Oliver Matson (2 letters- Greencastle, Ind., June 21, 24, 1886) [h]. Moses D. A. Steen (Woodbridge, Calif., June 10, 1887) 11. Letters to McFarland acknowledging A.M.'s at 1886 Commencement (June 1886) [a]. J. E. Morris (Liberty, Ind., June 26, 1886) [b]. Lee Yaran (Richmond, Ind,, June 28, 1886) [c]. John W. Short (Liberty, Ind., June 28, 1886) [d]. Henry B. McClure (Cincinnati, June 28, 1886) [e]. Miles Johnston (Cincinnati, June 28, 1886) [f]. B. F. Thomas (Hamilton, June 29, 1886) [g]. N. W. Evans (Portsmouth, June 29, 1886) [h]. H. L. Morey (Hamilton, June 29, 1886) [i]. Frank Miller (Easton, Pa., June 30, 1886) [j]. H. Leon Coffey (Galesburg, Ill., June 30, 1886) [k]. R. E. Lowry (Eaton, June 30, 1886) [l]. S. W. Davies (Dayton, June 30, 1886) 12. Letters to McFarland acknowledging A.M.'s at 1886 Commencement (July 1886-1888) [a]. Meade C. Williams (July 1, 1886) [b]. A. M. Pence (Chicago, July 1, 1886) [c]. D. H. Evans (Youngstown, July 1, 1886) [d]. R. T. Durrell (Cincinnati, July 2, 1886) [e]. A. S. Dudley (Morrow, July 3, 1886) [f]. David S. Tappan (Mount Pleasant, Iowa, July 5, 1886) [g]. John M. Robinson (Shawneetown, Ill, July 5, 1886) [h]. S. C. Ayres (Cincinnati, July 6, 1886) [i]. Charles S. Wood (Urbana, July 6, 1886) [j]. E. S. Scott (Logansport, Ind, July 7, 1886) [k]. Henry Van Matre (Cincinnati, July 7, 1886) [l]. W. M. Fisher (Elderado, Kans., July 7, 1886) [m]. E. B. Fullerton (Columbus, July 7, 1886) [n]. D. M. Ure (Monmouth, Ill., July 9, 1886) [o]. Calvin Brice (New York, July 10, 1886) [p]. James A. Wallace (Pawnee City, Neb., July 16, 1886) [q]. John B. Smith (Crockett, Tex., July 16, 1886) [r]. James S. McDonald (San Rafael, Cal., July 21, 1886) [s]. Palmer W. Smith (Oxford, August 2, 1886) [t]. R. M. Loughridge (August 5, 1886) [u]. Isaac B. Morris (Richmond, Ind., August 16, 1886) [v]. J. O. Shiras (Cincinnati, January 10, 1888) 13. Joshua R. Kyle to McFarland, requesting latest Miami Triennial Catalogue (Port Jackson, N.Y., August 27, 1886) 14. Note from Oliver Holben, Henry Snyder, and Joseph F. James presenting clock to Miami University (December 31, 1886) 15. Charles Elliott to McFarland, requesting honorary D.D. for E.C. Oggel (Easton, Pa., May 13, 1887) 16. Offers of moral support in Board of Trustees hearings on McFarland's worthiness as President (June 1887) [a]. James Owens (Newark, June 3, 1887) [b]. E. L. Taylor (Columbus, June 3, 1887) [c]. Quincy Corwin (Dayton, June 8, 1887) 17. W. J. Gilmore, Board of Trustees member, to Fannie McFarland Bonham, espressing support for her father. 2 letters-1 of which states "justice will never be done to your father (and any friends) by the board as at present organized and controlled." (Columbus, June 6, 1887; June 16, 1892) 18. George Hageman to McFarland, letter with newsclips re Hegeman's Presbyterian Church (Washington, Kans., June 11, 1887) 19. R. W. McFarland to Emil Kiesewetter, State Auditor of Ohio, form with appropriations estimates for Miami University (November 16, 1887) 20. George L. Andrew to McFarland, re. 5 vol. set of "Orations and Addresses" (La Porte, Ind., December 8, 1887) 21. ? to McFarland (Peterson, N.J., 1888) 22. Correspondence of McFarland and J.R. Stillington Sterrit to each other and the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees re. their dispute over dorm occupancy (5 letters-January 3-9, 1888); Undated Executive Committee draft resolution transferring custody and control of the northeast and southeast dorms from McFarland to Andrew D. Hepburn 23. Ohio Auditor of State's Office to McFarland re. warrants for payment of State Appropriations (2 letters- May 24, June 28, 1888) 24. "President R. W. McFarland, of Miami University" (Oxford, May 31, 1888)[Copy of newsclip re McFarland's resignation] 25. McFarland to the Board of Trustees re. his charges against Professor Andrew D. Hepburn (Oxford, June 10, 1888)[letter and draft copy] 26. L. L. Langstroth to ?, expressing support for President McFarland (Oxford, August 14, 1888) 27. J. H. Macready, student, to Samuel Hunt, Board of Trustees, expressing support for President McFarland (August 16, 1888) 28. Andrew? Harris to McFarland, re. deliberations of Committee to fill McFarland's Chair at Miami (Eaton, August 27, 1888) 29. John Riley Knox to L. N. Bonham stating that McFarland "was treated badly" at Miami (Greenville, June 6, 1890)


Arrangement: chronological.

Physical Location

Miami University Archives, King Library, 3rd Floor, Walter Havighurst Special Collections, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Acquired from various sources.

Related Materials

Processing Information

Collection processed by Bob Schmidt, Miami University Archives.

Repository Details

Part of the Miami University and Western College Memorial Archives Repository