Format: Catalog record
Finding aid URL: https://libcat.lafayette.edu/Record/in00000437037
James Henry Coffin (1806-1873), an American mathematician and meteorologist, was born in Williamsburg, MA to Matthew and Betsey (Allen) Coffin. A graduate of Amherst College in 1828, Coffin spent most of his academic career as a professor of mathematics, natural philosophy, and astronomy at Lafayette College from 1846 to 1873. At Lafayette College, he also served as Vice-President (1849-1853), Treasurer (1863-1873), and was instrumental in establishing the college’s first and only astronomical observatory. Coffin began his meteorological studies in 1838 and attempted to publish a monthly journal in meteorology in 1839, but it failed after its first issue from lack of financial support. Coffin wrote the manuscript on the mathematical theory of the moon’s motions in three parts while working as a tutor at Williams College (1840-1843). The manuscript is incomplete with a note stating some of the pages had been removed and used for later work. Present in the folders are pages used for his lunar theory (being the second part of his treatise on eclipses), and pages with the notation to be revised and completed. Elements of these writings became Coffin’s 1845 publication, Solar and lunar eclipses familiarly illustrated and explained, with the method of calculating them according to the theory of astronomy as taught in New England colleges.