George Washington Coakley Papers, 1866-1890
- Majority of material found within 1866 - 1890
Scope and Content
While some of the pamphlets and papers are dated from 1866 to1890, the bulk of the papers are undated. The collection represents the later part of George Washington Coakley’s life particularly his professional work as an instructor at University of the City of New York (NYU) and his mathematical and scientific research, studies and findings. Many of the undated papers refer to algebra, geometry, and a variety of scientific equations and notes written, in charts, and illustrated in diagrams. Many of the papers may or may not have been created by Coakley. The small notebook, in particular, is an instance where students handwrote class notes and gave the notebook as a gift to Coakley.
2 manuscript boxes (1 cubic ft. (2 manuscript boes))
The items were crammed tightly and the processor noted examples of acid migration and discoloration on pamphlets that were touching the notebooks. Notebooks showed significant leather deterioration with weak, brittle bindings that broke further during processing and left residue of red rot on other items in the collection. The cover of the medium notebook is no longer attached to the notebook and leather binding shows significant damage on the spine. Both notebooks are in need of treatment for red rot. The pamphlets and papers display foxing and frayed edges.
Language of Materials
George Washington Coakley was a prominent Rutgers College Alumnus and Professor of Mathematics and Astronomy at the University of City of New York (now referred as, New York University) who conducted notable research on Astro-Physics, particularly on the origin of meteorites and the movements of the solar system.
Biographical Sketch of George Washington Coakley
George Washington Coakley, A.B., L.L.D., was a prominent Rutgers College Alumnus and Professor of Mathematics and Astronomy at the University of City of New York (now referred as, New York University) who conducted notable research on Astro-Physics, particularly on the origin of meteorites and the movements of the solar system.
He was born February 22nd, 1814 in St. Thomas, West Indies, though some accounts list his place of birth as St. Bartholomew, West Indies or “Danish West Indies.” While at Rutgers College, he benefitted from the teaching of influential instructor Theodore Strong. Strong wen on to shape the minds of other scientists that studied at Rutgers. Coakley graduated from Rutgers College in 1836. He went on to study law, medicine, and theology.
He taught mathematics and astronomy at St. James College in Maryland from 1841 to 1860. (The college is incorrectly located in Indiana in an obituary for Coakley.) In 1860, he left his home in Williamsport, Maryland, to become a professor of mathematics and astronomy at the University of the City of New York (NYU). Coakley was a popular member of the faculty who was often a subject of parody and pranks by his students.
On April 13th, 1872, his name was printed in the “Gentlemen’s List” in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. By the 1880s, Coakley was an active member of the American Astronomical Society that met in Brooklyn, NY. He presented his papers there and was often published in The Sidereal Messenger: A Monthly Review of Astronomy (later renamed Astronomy and Astro-Physics). Many of Coakley’s articles published in The Sidereal Messenger were indexed in the French-language Revue des publications astronomiques. He gained attention in the New York Times for accurately predicting the arrival of a solar eclipse on March 16, 1885. His proven calculations predicted the eclipse’s occurrence six minutes later than the notable Science Weekly’s Almanac’s calculations for the event.
In his personal life, Coakley was, reportedly, a Democrat who enjoyed “gardening with flowers.” He listed “farming” as his profession in the 1870 national census though other census years list him as a professor. In August 1861, Coakley married Isabella Hoe Godfrey who was twenty-two years his junior. The couple had twelve children. Their eldest son, Cornelius Godfrey Coakley, became a prominent doctor. The family lived in Huntington, NY, in the 1870s and 1880s and later moved to Brooklyn, NY, in August of 1890.
An elderly Coakley delivered an address at Rutgers’ Alumni Day on June 22, 1886. While Coakley remained faculty member of the University of the City of New York well into his final days, he was no longer teaching classes. He died in Brooklyn on August 2, 1893 of pneumonia. He was buried in Hempstead, Long Island.
Original order was preserved, as best as possible, with the series groupings of paper in the manila file folders, brown craft paper sub-sections, and interleaved blank papers. Series level was assigned to notebooks, pamphlets/reprints, and letters in file folders in order to keep the integrity of the collection. Since some of the pamphlets are undated, they have been arranged in alphabetical order by title. The three papers series was further broken into folder groupings. These folder groupings were arranged by individual groupings that had been designated with brown craft paper and interleaved blank pages between or around section, as well as, perceived natural groupings.
- Baltimore (M.D.)
- Mathematics -- Study and teaching -- 19th century
- New Brunswick (N.J.)
- New York (N.Y.)
- New York University -- Faculty -- 19th century.
- New York University. Curricula -- 19th century.
- St. Bartholomew (West Indies)
- St. Thomas (West Indies)
- University and colleges -- Curricula -- 19th century
- Guide to the George Washington Coakley Papers, 1866-1890
- Edited Full Draft
- Annamarie C. Klose
- May 1, 2012
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description note
Part of the Rutgers University Archives Repository
Rutgers University Libraries
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
169 College Avenue
New Brunswick NJ 08901-1163