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Charles Francis Himes

Charles Francis Himes was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania on June 2, 1838 to William D. and Magdalen Lanius Himes. He attended the New Oxford Collegiate and Medical Institute in Adams County, Pennsylvania, before entering Dickinson College in the spring of 1853 as a sophomore. After graduating in 1855, Himes taught mathematics and natural sciences at the Wyoming Conference Academy in Wayne County, Pennsylvania. A year later he relocated to the Midwest to teach at public schools in Missouri and Illinois, but shortly thereafter returned to the East to accept a position at Baltimore Female College. In 1860 he was appointed professor of mathematics at Troy University in Troy, New York, teaching there for three years. Himes enrolled at the University of Giessen in the Hannover region of Germany in 1863, earning his PhD after two years of study. Upon his return to the United States, he was named professor of natural science at Dickinson College, a position that he held for three decades.

During his long tenure at Dickinson, Himes was instrumental in expanding the science curriculum and in orchestrating the construction of a new building dedicated to the science departments, the Jacob Tome Scientific Building, completed in 1885. He was secretary and treasurer for the Board of Trustees from 1868 until his retirement in 1896, and also served as acting college president during the academic year 1888-1889. With his avid interest in history, he was a member of the Hamilton Library Association and the Cumberland County Historical Society in Carlisle, even serving as president for a time. He was an honorary member of the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, lecturing there on a regular basis, and was also a member of the American Philosophical Society and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Beginning in 1901, he was president of the Pennsylvania German Society, an organization with which he had been actively involved since 1897. An avid traveler, Himes made numerous extended trips to Europe throughout his life.

Beginning in 1858, Himes developed a life-long interest in photography, studying and teaching the techniques of this evolving form of popular art and science. He published a work titled Leaf Prints: or Glimpses at Photography in 1868, and in 1884 he began teaching photography during summer programs at Mountain Lake Park, Maryland. He shared his work and knowledge with other amateur photographers through various associations, becoming a member of the Pennsylvania Photographic Society in 1860, the Amateur Photographic Exchange Club in 1861, and, later in life, pursuing photographic efforts through the Hamilton Library Association. Combining his love of science and history, his great idea in retirement was the institution of a national record of places and events through photography.

Himes married Mary Elizabeth Murray on January 2, 1868, and the couple had two daughters, Mary and Anna Magdalen. Charles Francis Himes died at age 80 at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore on December 6, 1918.

Please visit the following link for materials authored by Charles Francis Himes maintained in the Their Own Words database:

Himes, Charles Francis, 1838-1918.

Researched, authored, and edited by John Osborne, Ph. D., and James Gerencser.

Page created: July 9, 2003                                            close window