The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.
Page  399


The Research Club as first organized was named the "Society for the Promotion of Research at the University of Michigan." It is now in its fortieth year, and embraces in its membership nearly two hundred members. Though clubs of its type appear in some other American universities, it was the pioneer in this field, and still occupies a unique position. At Michigan it finds a natural atmosphere for which it is probably in some measure directly or indirectly responsible. As stated in its constitution, "The object of the Club shall be to unite those members of the academic staff of the University who are actively engaged in research, and to originate and support such measures as are calculated to foster and advance research in the University." Such a statement today arouses no opposition upon the campus, where in its more important divisions an instructor's accomplishments in research are considered with reference to his promotion or advancement.

When the club was founded in 1900 the case was quite different. Scattered through the institution were a few earnest investigators, but, outside the Medical Department, the capacity of a man to do original work was hardly taken into account by those who controlled advancement. The few researchers felt the need for companionship with others who held similar ideals, and they felt that only through their united efforts could changes promoting research be brought about in University policies.

As a practical idea the club seems to have come first to two early heads of departments at the University, the late Dr. Frederick C. Newcombe and Dr. Jacob E. Reighard, who brought the late Dr. Victor C. Vaughan (Vaughan, pp. 435-38) into their councils. Two or three years earlier Newcombe and Reighard, with Frank R. Lillie, then Instructor in Zoology, and Alexander Ziwet, then Instructor in Mathematics, had met in Ziwet's room to discuss such a project, but nothing came of it at the time (Lombard, pp. 595-96). The consequence was a first meeting which was held at the home of Dr. Vaughan, then just northwest of the campus on North State Street. This meeting was held on January 6, 1900, and besides the three who had called the conference there were present by invitation Robert M. Wenley, Professor of Philosophy, Paul C. Freer, Professor of General Chemistry and head of the Department of Chemistry, afterward head of the Bureau of Sciences at Manila, Philippine Islands, Albert B. Prescott, Professor of Organic Chemistry and of Pharmacy, Dean of the School of Pharmacy, and Director of the Chemical Laboratory, and J. Playfair McMurrich, Professor of Anatomy and Director of the Anatomical Laboratory, who a few years later removed to the University of Toronto.

A temporary organization was started, with Vaughan, chairman, and Newcombe, secretary. A committee which consisted of Wenley, Freer, and Newcombe Page  400was formed to draft a constitution and bylaws. A second meeting to complete the organization was called to meet at the home of Dr. Lombard at 805 Oxford Road. This meeting was held February 15, 1900, and there were present, in addition to those at the earlier meeting: Warren P. Lombard, Professor of Physiology, E. D. Campbell, Junior Professor of Analytical Chemistry, Arthur R. Cushney, Professor of Materia Medica and Therapeutics, G. Carl Huber, Junior Professor of Anatomy and Director of the Histological Laboratory, and Alexander Ziwet, Junior Professor of Mathematics. Invited but not present were H. C. Carhart, Professor of Physics and Director of the Physical Laboratory, George Dock, Professor of the Theory and Practice of Medicine and Pathology, Frederick G. Novy, Junior Professor of Hygiene and Physiological Chemistry, and Volney M. Spalding, Professor of Botany.

At this meeting the constitution and bylaws were adopted, Vaughan was formally elected president, Wenley, vicepresident, and Newcombe, secretary and treasurer. With the exception that Wenley served but one year and was then replaced by Campbell, the officers remained the same for the first four years of the club's history. During these critical years Vaughan's dominant influence was considered highly important. He had not succeeded in maintaining a high research qualification for appointments in the Department of Medicine and Surgery without an almost constant struggle against members of the Board of Regents who in some cases had tried to influence appointments.

During the first year the Research Club grew by election of members to twenty-four. These included Henry Carter Adams, Professor of Political Economy, Moses Gomberg (afterward Director of the Chemical Laboratory), Alfred H. Lloyd, Professor of Philosophy (afterward Dean of the Graduate School and later Acting President of the University), Aldred S. Warthin, Professor of Pathology (afterward Director of the Pathological Laboratory), James Alexander Craig, Professor of Oriental Languages (afterward Professor of Semitics in the University of Toronto), George Hempl, Professor of English Philology (afterward Professor in Leland Stanford University), Israel Cook Russell, Professor of Geology (afterward president of the Geological Society of America), John C. Rolfe, Professor of Latin (afterward head of the Department of Latin at the University of Pennsylvania), Karl E. Guthe, Professor of Physics and later Dean of the Graduate School, Walter B. Pillsbury, Professor of Psychology (afterward Director of the Psychological Laboratory and Chairman of the Department of Psychology), and Herbert S. Jennings, Professor of Zoology (afterward Director of the Zoological Laboratory in Johns Hopkins University).

This nucleus of sixteen charter members was one of great distinction, as is clear to anyone who is familiar with the history of American science, and it is also clearly shown in Cattell's gradings of American men of science with the aid of well-informed and impartial groups (Cattell, American Men of Science, p. 364, and "Statistical Study, 1906," p. 736). When in 1905 the initial edition of his American Men of Science was published, all save one of the sixteen, with the three next members, were included in the one thousand most distinguished American scientists. Most of them were, moreover, included in the first five hundred American scientists, as is clearly shown by the fact that the entire state of Michigan had but twenty-seven in the thousand list and when this list was graded into first and second five hundreds, twenty-two from Michigan, "thanks to its great University," Page  401fell into the first five hundred and only five into the second.

Such a standard of selection of researchers within the University could not be kept up by later elections, and of the eleven men within the science field who were elected by the club in the next four years (1901-2 to 1904-5) only one came into the first thousand scientists of Cattell's earlier list.

In the fall of 1902 Vaughan, then president of the club, invited Louis M. Gelston and Ward J. MacNeal, his assistants in hygiene, to an open meeting of the club, and shortly thereafter these young men organized the Junior Research Club of the University, a body which is still prosperous and throughout its life has been a training group for the senior organization. Before this club was formed the Research Club had "associate" members who attended the "open" meetings only of the club. By November, 1904, there were in all thirty active and sixteen associate members, and at that time the associate members were all advanced to active membership. With the Junior Research Club functioning, the associate membership was abolished. This infusion of a considerable number of younger men perhaps in part explains the unique inclusion of one additional member selected for Cattell's second list of the first thousand American scientists for the year 1910 (see Part II: Junior Research Club).

Both the parent research organization and the Junior Research Club decided definitely to exclude women from their membership, although there were a number of women researchers in the University, particularly in the Medical Department. These young women, after being refused admission by the Junior Research Club, decided upon a separate organization and founded the Women's Research Club of the University in 1902 (see Part II: Women's Research Club).

From the outset the club has worked to promote research. At the initial open meeting on October 30, 1900, Vaughan read a paper on "The Promotion of Research at the University of Michigan." On March 12, 1902, there was a general discussion on this subject, and on April 7, 1903, another open meeting considered the report of the committee on a memorial which was to be sent to the Board of Regents on the subject of research work. This memorial, after circulation through the faculties for signatures, was, according to the minutes, presented to the Board by the committee, which consisted of Vaughan, Adams, and Newcombe. However, the Proceedings of the Board of Regents, though they include, in full, letters from individual professors, contain no mention of the memorial, nor do the minutes of the club again mention it. It is very possible that the committee was advised by President Angell not to insist on offering to the Board a memorandum with which they were not likely to be in sympathy. In January, 1904, Russell, and again in October, 1906, Newcombe, the latter in a retiring address as president, treated the subject of "Progress of Research at the University During the Past Year." In November, 1904, the club set up a body of eight as a committee to compose with the officers an executive committee to conduct the business of the club.

From the beginning, the club undertook to make known the scholarly publications of the faculties. In April, 1900, it was ordered by the club that each member should supply the secretary with a typewritten list of his publications, and in September of the same year the committee of the club in vain waited upon the University librarian to request a room at the library where recent publications of the faculties could be deposited.

Beginning in 1889 publications of Page  402faculty members had been listed in the University Record, and in the Michigan Alumnus for the years 1897-1901 (see bibliography). In November, 1903, the Alumni Association, which then had charge of the News-Letter, was requested to publish these lists so as to inform the people of the state concerning research work which was being done at the University. The first list under this arrangement was published in May, 1905, and constituted the inauguration of systematic publication, which has since been kept up and has been a fruitful source of encouragement to research workers within the University.

There were two aims to which from the beginning the club gave expression and on which from time to time it took action and prepared communications to the president and the Board of Regents. These were, first, the formation of a separate graduate department or school to embrace the entire University, and, second, the requirement of productive scholarship as a necessary basis for advancement within the faculties.

An open meeting of the club was called on April 9, 1903, "in order to present an informal report of a memorial on research work to be presented to the Board of Regents. Dr. Vaughan read the paper which he and Professors Lloyd and Adams had drawn up. The paper was approved by those present and they signed their names and appointed Professors Vaughan, Adams, and Newcombe to circulate the paper among the members of the faculties" (MS, "Minutes, Research Club," Apr. 9, 1903). This was presented with its signatures to the Board at its next meeting and quickly disposed of. Regent Dean presented a communication from Dr. Vaughan and fifty others asking the Board to establish in the University a Graduate School, and on his motion the matter was laid on the table (R.P., 1901-6, p. 181).

Though the minutes of the club do not mention it — they are very brief, sketchy, and with unfilled gaps for the period of Newcombe's secretaryship — the club apparently renewed its request, for at the next meeting of the Board:

A communication was received from Dr. A. B. Prescott asking a conference with the Board by a Committee who are interested in the establishment of a Graduate Council in the University. The Communication was referred to the Literary Committee [Regents Hill and Dean] for consideration.

(R.P., 1901-6, p. 203.)

Nothing further was heard of this for a number of years.

No further direct communication was made by the club until 1911, but in the meantime the graduate work in the University had increased in several colleges, and especially in the Summer Session, of which Dr. Edward H. Kraus was secretary. In 1908 President Angell had made a strong appeal to the Board of Regents, pointing out the rapid growth of graduate work in the University and urging that if the University was not to fall behind other institutions it must strengthen its faculties by men capable of carrying the instructional work in most departments beyond the graduation (R.P., 1906-10, p. 387).

In October, 1910, the second issue of Cattell's American Men of Science appeared, and through a careful rating in scholarship by a distinguished committee of scientists, the distribution of these men of science in American universities became apparent. After supplementary correspondence W. H. Hobbs prepared for publication in the Michigan Alumnus a summary discussion of the findings, which were of quite exceptional interest to the University. They showed, among other things, that while no state of the Union save Massachusetts had in the late generation produced so many distinguished scientists, yet Michigan Page  403headed the list of those which had lost their great men to other states. This, with the supplementary data collected, indicated that the University of Michigan was paying lower salaries to its men than were its sister institutions. When this paper was already in type, it came under the eye of President Hutchins, who feared its effect upon alumni would be hurtful, and it was accordingly suppressed. Thereupon, at the request of the Executive Council of the Research Club, it was read at the meeting of the club on February 15, 1911, and was discussed at length by Vaughan, Campbell, Newcombe, Hussey, Wenley, Gomberg, Sanders, Leverett, Van Tyne, Case, Novy, and others, at a meeting which was prolonged until a late hour. At the conclusion a committee of five members — Ziwet (president), Scott, Pearse, Zowski, and Case — was appointed to wait upon the president of the University and convey to him the sentiments of the meeting in in the interest of consideration of scholarship as a basis of appointments and advancement within the University. To fortify the committee, the fifty-eight members present signed their names to the action. The immediate effect was that only a week later the Regents took from the committee on the Department of Literature, Science, and the Arts, where it had lain since 1902, the earlier communication from the club urging the formation of a separate graduate school and passed the following resolution:

Resolved, That a committee, of which the President shall be chairman, to consist of three members of this Board [Regents Sawyer, Beal and Hubbard] and three members [later changed to five] of the University Senate to be appointed by the President, be raised for the purpose of studying the problem of graduate work in the University and reporting a scheme of organization if such course seems to the committee to be wise.

(R.P., 1910-14, p. 95.)

The Senate members of the committee — Vaughan, Reed, Scott, Wenley, and Ziwet — were appointed in June, after which events moved rapidly. In September the committee's report was presented and adopted without change; in June, 1912, Dr. Guthe was appointed Dean of the new Graduate School; and in December following the first executive committee of the School was appointed — Gomberg, Bates, Wenley, M. E. Cooley, Scott, Vaughan, and H. C. Adams — all, with one exception, members of the Research Club and all outstanding members of the University faculties.

The more specific request of the club concerning appointments, while it brought no action from the Board, yet was put into practice within the Literary Department, where Dean Effinger demanded of department heads advocating appointments for promotions full statements concerning the scholarly publications of the candidates. This practice had already long been observed by Dr. Vaughan within the Department of Medicine and Surgery. A noteworthy departure from this principle, however, occurred in the promotions of 1924, when thirteen of sixteen men advanced either to the rank of professor or of associate professor had made no significant achievement in productive scholarship. This action was the basis of a special memorandum which was presented at the meeting of the Research Club on March 26, 1924. At this meeting Dr. A. M. Barrett, the president of the club, appointed a committee to prepare a memorandum to be presented to the president. This committee consisted of Hobbs, chairman, Huber, Ziwet, Kraus, Bartlett, Bates, and Bonner. After some modification the report of this committee to the club was conveyed to the president of the University by its chairman, to whom Dr. Burton wrote a letter on April 1 in which the following occurs: Page  404

I am glad that the Research Club has interested itself generally in the whole problem of promotions in this University… I think that the departments and committees of various kinds who are charged with the responsibility of recommending promotions should feel very seriously their obligations in these matters and not pass them along to the higher offices with the thought that there is considerable possibility that they will be held up.

I think it is also very important to recognize that already we have the well-established principle that the shortest road to a full professorship is by the route of research.

Again on September 18, President Burton wrote:

I want you to know also that at a Conference of the deans held yesterday I presented your communication in full and the matter was discussed at that time.

If I interpreted correctly the point of view of the Conference, there was no disagreement whatever in regard to the statement of standards or ideals for promotion, but there was some sharp difference in opinion in regard to the method which was proposed.

Early in its history the club took an active interest in the subject of University scholarly publications. The Humanistic Series of publications had in December, 1906, been started on the initiative of Professor F. W. Kelsey of the Department of Latin, and occasional publications had appeared in connection with the Detroit Observatory, but there was no comprehensive series of general University publications.

On February 2, 1909, as a result of consideration at earlier meetings, the club held a special meeting to consider the subject of such publications, and Professor Wenley contributed a paper on the subject. A committee of five (Hobbs, Reighard, Huber, Scott, and Williams) was raised to draw up a report, which was duly rendered and was presented to the University Senate. The plan proposed was approved by the Senate in principle, but it was thought that the time was not favorable for bringing the matter before the Board of Regents. A successful effort was, however, launched in February, 1921, when, on motion of Professor Reeves, action was taken unanimously that the president of the club appoint a committee of three (Hussey, Novy, and Sanders) to make a careful study of the problem of University publications and to arrange a meeting with the president and the Executive Board of the Graduate School in order to make a report and to open a discussion on the necessity of providing additional support for publication by the University. The time was now ripe for such an effort, and nine months later (Nov. 16) the secretary was able to read to the club a letter from Dean Lloyd of the Graduate School in behalf of its Executive Board, in which it was stated that the Regents had granted, in addition to the $1,000 provided in the regular budget, the sum of $11,200 for the purpose of scholarly University publications, and he expressed the thanks of the Executive Board for the important co-operation of the club and of its special committees. He also read a letter from President Burton, which was, in part, as follows:

This whole proposal has meant a good deal to me because of my genuine concern for the scholarly standards of the University and particularly for the fortitude of our best men who are really making contributions to science and knowledge. I hope that you and others will recognize in this action a genuine purpose on the part of the administration and the Board of Regents to foster in practical ways activities looking in the direction of thoroughgoing scholarly efforts by the staff… I believe that it marks the beginning of a real period of expansion in such activities if we avail ourselves of the possibilities which such action indicates.

President Burton proved to be a true Page  405prophet, and the University scholarly publications, since much expanded, have reflected great credit upon the institution.

The Russel endowment of $10,000 "to provide additional compensation to members of the instructional staff" was set up through the bequest of Henry Russel ('73, '75l, A.M. '76), of Detroit. In 1925 the Board of Regents determined that from the income of the fund $250 should each year be set aside to provide for a lecture, to be known as the Henry Russel lecture, to be given under the auspices of the University at some time between the April vacation and May 30; and that $250 should also be set aside for an award to be known as the Henry Russel award, which should be announced at the time of the Henry Russel lecture (R.P., 1923-26, p. 617). The selection of the Henry Russel lecturer was committed to the Executive Board of the Research Club of the University, which designates each year that member of the faculties whom the committee of the club appointed for the purpose deems to have attained the highest distinction in the field of scholarship. The award is assigned by a special committee appointed for the purpose to that member of the University faculties of the rank of assistant professor or instructor whose achievements in scholarly activities and whose promise for the future seem most to merit the appointment. Since the first few years the committee for selection of Russel lecturers has consisted of the past Russel lecturers who are still living on the campus. The roll of merit is as follows:

Henry Russel Lecturer Henry Russel Award Date
Moses Gomberg Carter L. Goodrich 1926
Frederick G. Novy Albert Hyma 1927
Henry A. Sanders Laurence M. Gould 1928
Aldred S. Warthin John Alexander 1929
Claude H. Van Tyne Carl L. Hubbs 1930
William H. Hobbs Earl L. Griggs 1931
Jesse S. Reeves William L. Ayres 1932
Walter B. Pillsbury Werner E. Bachmann 1933
Ermine C. Case Paul Mueschke 1934
G. Carl Huber Ralph G. Smith 1935
John G. Winter Lawrence Preuss 1936
Charles W. Edmunds Frank E. Eggleton 1937
Heber D. Curtis Franklin D. Johnston 1938
Campbell Bonner Norman R. F. Maier 1939
Frank N. Wilson Frank H. Bethell 1940
Edgar M. Hoover, Jr.

The memorial lectures of the club, which have been public and began in 1929, grew out of an address by Professor Wenley as retiring president on October 27, 1909. To these lectures, usually in place of the regular April meeting of the club, the Junior and Women's Research Clubs and the Graduate Club have been specially invited. The dates are important, since they have generally been centenaries or multicentenaries of either the birth of the distinguished scholar memorialized or of some outstanding work. They have been as follows:

Date Memorial Lectures and Speakers
1909 Charles Darwin (Case, Hus, Pillsbury, Reighard, and Wenley)
1910 John Dalton (Bigelow, Guthe, and Wenley)
1911 The Evolution of Worlds (Professor Forest R. Moulton, University of Chicago)
1912 Jean Jacques Rousseau (Boucke, Cooley, Pillsbury, and Reeves)
1913 Henry Bessemer (Campbell, Sadler, and Tilden)
1914 Roger Bacon (Dow, Guthe, Lloyd, and Tatlock)
1915 Andreas Vesalius (Cross, Huber, and De Nancrede)
1916 Karl Ludwig (Lombard and Scholl)
1917 Theodor Mommsen and Benjamin Jowett (Bonner, Kelsey, and Sanders)
1919 George Eliot (Wenley)
1920 John Tyndall and Herbert Spencer (C.H. Cooley, Lloyd, and A. W. Smith)
1921 Hermann von Helmholz and Rudolph Virchow (Cooley, Lloyd, Boak, Karpinski, and Weller)
1922 Louis Pasteur (Gomberg and Novy)
1923 Nicolaus Copernicus (Rufus — of the Junior Research Club — and Ziwet)
1924 Immanuel Kant and Blaise Pascal (Bradshaw, Lloyd, and Wenley)
1925 Thomas Huxley (Wenley and Case)
1926 Ohm's Law (Colby) and James Hutton (Hobbs)
1927 Isaac Newton (Hildebrandt and Curtiss) and Lord Lister (Cabot)
1928 Justinian's Appointment of the Commission to Codify the Roman Law (Drake)
Harvey's Exercitatio … de motu cordis et sanguinis (Lombard)
Page  406
1929 Christian Huyghens (Uhlenbeck) and Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (Scholl)
1930 John James Audubon (Shull) and Johann Kepler (Rufus)
1931 John Dryden (Bredvold) and Michael Faraday (Laporte)
1932 Benedict Spinoza (Parker) and Antony von Leeuwenhoek (Weller)
1933 Joseph Priestley (Cross and Bigelow) and William Beaumont (Lewis)
1934 Ernst Heinrich Haeckel (George LaRue), Samuel Pierpont Langley (Curtis), and John Wesley Powell (Hobbs)
1935 Maimonides (Sellars), Simon Newcomb (McLaughlin), and Archibald Geikie (Case)
1936 Joseph Louis Lagrange (Rainich) and James Watt (White)
1937 Edward Gibbon (Cross and Boak) and Father Jacques P. Marquette (Crane)
1938 Sir William Perkin (Schoepfle) and James Craig Watson (Curtis)
1939 Charles S. Peirce (Langford) and J. Willard Gibbs (Laporte)
1940 Joseph Justus Scaliger (Blake), Sir William Gilbert (Colby), and Edward Drinker Cope (Case)

At each monthly meeting of the Research Club two papers are presented, usually one in the humanities and one on some scientific subject. Discussions follow and each paper is open to discussion by any member of the club. Refreshments are served in the interval between the two papers. Formerly the meetings of the club were held in the histological laboratory of the old Medical Building, but now they are held in the small amphitheater of the Rackham School of Graduate Studies.

It will thus be seen that the Research Club has played no unimportant role in the life of the University since 1900. On the quarter-centennial of its founding a centennial banquet was held at which various addresses dealt with the history of the club to that time, and notably one by Dr. Lombard, as already referred to. The sudden death of Marion LeRoy Burton transformed this meeting into a memorial to the late President, as well as to one of the club itself. The club has steadily grown in membership despite requirements so strict that election is regarded upon the campus as a signal honor, and the membership throughout more than a third of a century of the life of the club has included most of the productive scholars of the institution.


Annual Report of the Librarian, Univ. Mich., 1906-7, 1907-9.
Bibliography of Publications by Members of the Several Faculties, Univ. Mich., 1907-9, 1909-18, 1918-20, 1928-30, 1930-33, 1933-35, 1935-37, 1937-39.
Cattell, J. McKeen (Ed.). American Men of Science; a Biographical Dictionary. New York: Science Press, 1906.
Cattell, J. McKeen (Ed.). American Men of Science; a Biographical Dictionary. 2d ed.; New York: Science Press, 1910.
Cattell, J. McKeen. "A Further Statistical Study of American Men of Science. II."Science, n.s., 32 (1910): 633-48.
Cattell, J. McKeen. "A Further Statistical Study of American Men of Science. II."Science, pp. 672-88.
Cattell, J. McKeen. "A Statistical Study of American Men of Science. III. The Distribution of American Men of Science."Science, n.s., 24 (1906): 732-42. ("Statistical Study, 1906.")
Lombard, Warren P."The University Research Club in Retrospect."Mich. Alum., 31 (1925): 595-600.
The Michigan Alumnus, Vols. 3 (1897), 6 (1899), 7 (1901).
MS, "Minutes of the Research Club of the University of Michigan," 1900-1940. ("Minutes, Research Club.")
President's Report, Univ. Mich., 1921-22, 1923-24, 1925-26, 1927-28. (P.R.)
Proceedings of the Board of Regents …, 1896-1940. (R.P.)
The University Record, Univ. Mich., Vols. 1-4 (1889-94).
"University of Michigan Publications, Humanistic Series." Ann Arbor: Univ. Mich., 1906-40. 43 vols.
University News-Letter, Nos. 31 (1899), 70 (1901), 183-84 (1905), 208-9 (1906).
Vaughan, Victor C.A Doctor's Memories. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1926.