North American Scholar

COGSWELL, Joseph Green

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1786-09-27
  • Born City: Ipswich
  • Born State/Country: MA
  • Parents: Francis & Anstis Mannings C.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1871-11-26
  • Death City: Cambridge
  • Death State/Country: MA
  • Married: Mary F Gilman, 17 Apr 1812
  • Education:

    AB Harvard, 1806; study of law under Fisher Ames & Judge Prescott, 1807-9; travel and study at Göttingen and elsewhere in Europe, 1815-20; LLD Trinity Coll (Hartford, CT), 1842; Harvard, 1863

  • Professional Experience:

    Merchant in Europe, 1809-11; tutor Lat Harvard, 1813-15; Librarian & prof, mineralogy & geology, 1820-3; established Round Hill School, (Northampton, MA), 1823-34; headmaster boy's school (Raleigh, NC), 1834-6; established Astor Library (New York, NY), 1837; librarian, 1837-61; ed New York Review, 1837-42

  • Publications:

    On the System of Education at the Round Hill School (Boston, 1831); Prospectus of a School to be Established at Round Hill, Northampton, Massachusetts (Cambridge, 1823); The Voyage of John de Verazzano (trans) New-York Historical Society Collections, 2d ser (1841) 37-67; “Literary and Scientific Associations in the United States,” AmQRev 15 (1843) 175-85; Catalogue of the Astor Library (New York, 1864)

  • Notes:

    Dissatisfied with the superficiality of American classical education and scholarship in the early national period, Joseph Green Cogswell strove, unsuccessfully, to introduce German standards of teaching and German Neo-Humanism. His founding, with George Bancroft, of the Round Hill School, modeled on the German gymnasium, with Greek and Latin at the core of its curriculum, was a daring experiment to transplant German standards and methods to America. But such an institution was not assimilable in the existing educational system of the time, and though it became famous, Round Hill closed its doors in 1834. Cogswell ultimately went on to found the Astor (now New York Public) Library in 1837.

  • Sources:

    The Life of Joseph Green Cogswell as Sketched in His Letters (Cambridge, 1874); James S Bassett, “The Round Hill School,” Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society ns 27 (1917) 18-62; DAB 4:273-4; Orie William Long, Literary Pioneers: Early American Explorers of European Culture (Cambridge, 1935); James McLachlan, American Boarding Schools: A Historical Study (New York, 1970) 30-2, 50-70; NatCAB 11:462

  • Author: Meyer Reinhold