PROF. W. A. ANTHONY, MANCHESTER: Electrician.
The subject of this sketch was born November 17, 1835, at Coventry, Rhode Island. He attended the village school,
where he began at an early age the study of algebra and geometry. He also read all the books on science to be found
in the school library, and obtained considerable experience with machinery and tools in his father's mill. At the
age of 15 he went to the Friends' Boarding School in Providence, where he pursued his favorite studies in mathematics
and science, and for a time assisted in the preparation of experiments for the lectures on chemistry and physics.
Completing his preparations for college at the academy at East Greenwich, he entered Brown University in 1854,
but under the compulsion of his deepening interest in mathematical and scientific studies he left Brown to enter
the Scientific School at Yale, where he graduated in 1856.
After graduating, Prof. Anthony became the principal of a graded school. He then taught science in an academy,
then physics and chemistry at Antioch College, then physics at the Iowa State Agricultural College, and in 1872
he was called to Cornell University to take charge of the department of physics. He remained there till 1887, and
left behind him an imprint that the work of Cornell in his special field will long bear. His interest was specially
strong in electricity and optics, and he devised a great number of experiments to illustrate his instruction. Even
in the academy, in 1863-66, his students in physics were required to perform experiments for themselves. This was
the beginning of his physical laboratory instruction, which he tried to improve upon and extend as long as he had
to do with students, and to prepare for their careers the physicists and engineers of the next generation.
It is interesting to note that in 1874, after trying in vain to procure a Gramme machine from Europe, as a piece
of laboratory apparatus, he designed and constructed one for the university laboratory himself. This machine was
exhibited at the Philadelphia centennial exhibition in 1876. It is still in use and doing good service in the physical
laboratory at Cornell.
In 1881, appreciating with clear foresight the important place that electrical applications were to take in the
near future, Professor Anthony set on foot a movement looking to the establishment at Cornell of a special course
of study for the training of electrical engineers. This plan met with great opposition at first, but was finally
successful, and the course is now one of the best attended in the university.
In 1887, desiring relief in a change of occupation, Prof. Anthony resigned the appointment he had held with so
much credit to himself and so much honor to Cornell, and assumed the duties of electrician for the Mather Electric
Company of Manchester, in this State, in which capacity he has since continued, devoting himself to the improvement
of the apparatus and the extension of the affairs of the company.
Illustrated Popular Biography
Compiled and Published by J. A. Spalding
Press of the Case, Lockwood & Brainard Co.
Hartford, Conn. 1891
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