1870s Students

John Milton DuffJohn Milton Duff was president of the Irving Society during his time at the Western University. He later became one of Pittsburgh’s leading obstetricians and was a professor on the University’s medical faculty when it first became affiliated with the Medical College in 1892. 

J.J. Buchanan was president of the Irving Society and editor of the College Journal before becoming a leading Pittsburgh surgeon. He was among the first surgeons to use Lister’s antiseptic techniques and published several papers about his work at Mercy Hospital.

C.V. Thompson, a Philomathean, served on the editorial staff of the College Journal. After graduation, he went on to become a noted correspondent for the London Times and traveled to China “in search of world news.”

William Thaw, Jr., published letters in the College Journal describing his European travels. He was the son of trustee William Thaw Sr., who made his fortune in transportation and banking and donated much of it to the arts and to education. Like his father, the younger Thaw became an industrialist and philanthropist; his mansion still stands on the North Side. Thaw’s brother, Harry Kendall Thaw, was at the center of a widely publicized early 20th century scandal. Harry Thaw shot and killed the well-known architect, Stanford White, after learning of White’s affair with his wife, the actress Evelyn Nesbitt.

Student Writing In 1869, students began to publish essays and stories (and the occasional poem) in the new student magazine, College Journal. It is certainly possible that these compositions were prepared as part of course work. If not, they still show the influence of an education in the literary and rhetorical arts at the Western University of Pennyslvania. Below are some examples from the decade of the 1870s:


“Do We Form our own Characters or Are They Formed for Us?” by a Junior  

“The Depravity of Types”

“Our University,” a poem, by a Junior 

“Reading,” by D. W. J. 

“The Aim of a College Course,” by G. H. R.

“A Visit to a Blast Furnace,” by W.D. H. 

“The Works of Dickens,” by B. 

“English Classics,” by “Omega”