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Edward Renouf letters featuring Ira Remsen

 Collection — Box: 1, Folder: 5
Identifier: MS-0838

Content Description

This collection contains letters written from Edward Renouf to his father about his travels around Europe. A few of the letters are newspaper clippings, originally published in a section called "Miscellaneous Reading" with the subheading "Letter from Over the Water." The collection also includes a sixteen page handwritten letter to his father in September 1867, describing hiking in the Austrian Alps. Renouf was accompanied in his alpine hiking by Ira Remsen and he describes their encounter in the letter. Renouf was a faculty member in chemistry at Johns Hopkins University from 1885 to 1911 and an acquaintance of Remsen's. In the letter, Renouf tells his father that Remsen is a medical doctor but has come to Europe to study chemistry, describing him as a "particularly agreeable companion." Remsen eventually earned his PhD from the University of Göttingen in 1870; he received his medical degree from Columbia in 1867, just before heading for Europe.


  • Creation: approximately 1867


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours' notice for retrieval. Contact Special Collections for more information. This collection is open for use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright.

Biographical note - Ira Remsen

Ira Remsen, American chemist, educator and second President of Johns Hopkins University was born in New York City on February 10, 1846, the son of Rosanna Secor and James Vanderbilt Remsen. At the age of 14 Ira Remsen became a freshman at the New York Free Academy (later the College of the City of New York). However, before the completion of his college course Remsen's father decided that his son should enter the medical profession. Ira Remsen was removed from college and placed under the tutelage of a practicing physician. He later received the degree of A.B. nunc pro tunc from the College of the City of New York. He enrolled as a student in the College of Physicians and Surgeons and in 1867 he graduated with honors as a Doctor of Medicine. He then became apprenticed to a physician in New York City and for about a year was actively engaged in the practice of medicine. By 1868, however, Remsen decided to abandon his medical career and devote himself to the serious study of chemistry. He went to Germany and commenced work at the University of Munich in the autumn of that year under the laboratory instruction of Jacob Volhard and attending the lectures of Justus von Liebig. The following year Remsen went to Gottingen to work under Rudolf Fittig, and he received his Ph.D. degree in 1870. Remsen returned to the United states in 1872, and after some delay took up the post of Professor of Physics and Chemistry at Williams College. He remained at Williams for four years during which he published 9 papers on the results of original investigations and a book on theoretical chemistry which became one of the leading textbooks of the day. In 1876 Remsen was offered and accepted the chair of chemistry at the newly established Johns Hopkins University, and in 1877 he delivered his first lecture on advanced organic chemistry. In 1879 Remsen established the American Chemical Journal of which he remained editor until 1915. Remsen's numerous published works include: The Principles of Theoretic Chemistry (1876); Organic Chemistry (1885); Introduction to the study of Chemistry (1887); Elements of Chemistry (1888); A Laboratory Manual (1889); Chemical Experiments (1895); Inorganic Chemistry (1898); The University Movement (1915). In 1881 Remsen was called upon for advice on major problems in the Boston water supply. After the Baltimore fire in 1904 he was the most important member of a commission to design a new system of sewage disposal for the city. In 1909 he was appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt the Chairman of a Board commissioned to study administration of the Pure Food Law. Remsen found distasteful all the publicity and the political and commercial influences connected with this work. While Daniel Coit Gilman was absent in Europe from 1889 - 1890, Ira Remsen served as Acting President of Johns Hopkins University. When Gilman retired in 1901 Remsen was chosen as his successor. Remsen's administration was a period of steady progress against difficulties and marked the founding of the School of Engineering and the removal of the University to the Homewood site. Remsen retired from Johns Hopkins University in 1913. Ira Remsen died in Carmel, California on March 4, 1927.

Biographical note - Edward Renouf

Edward Renouf was a member of the faculty in chemistry at Johns Hopkins University from 1885-1911, and was an aquaintence of Ira Remsen's from before the founding of the university in 1876. Renouf died in 1934.


.167 Cubic Feet (1 legal sized folder)

Language of Materials



This collection includes letters from Edward Renouf to his father describing his travels in Europe with Ira Remsen. Renouf was a faculty member in chemistry at Johns Hopkins University from 1885 to 1911 and an acquaintance of Remsen's.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Katherine Gould-Martin, November 2018.

Related Materials

Additional materials related to Ira Remsen are available in the Ira Remsen papers, MS.0039, Special Collections.

Physical Description

The handwritten letter in this collection is fragile and should be handled with care.

Processing Information

Processed by Kristen Diehl in January 2019.

Guide to the Edward Renouf letters about Ira Remsen
Kristen Diehl
2019 January
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA