Scientist / Astronomer / Photographer
Knight's Templar Extraordinaire
In 1871, he received an honorary L.L.D. for Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1894, The Echo of the Seneca Yearbook was dedicated to Smith in his 27th year of teaching. Smith was one of five professors who, according to Hobart historian Warren H. Smith, “formed a distinguished faculty which made Hobart College respected through all the vicissitudes of the late nineteenth century.” One of the problems facing Hobart was a lack of qualified professors to fill the gaps in the curriculum. In June 1880, Smith and three other professors outlines the problems to the trustees, reporting that Hobart “lacked chairs in history, chemistry, natural history, social science, Spanish, Italian, etc.; salaries were lower that at comparable places... The College, if need be, should borrow money to get new professors.”
Smith was the editor of the Cleveland monthly “Annuals of Science” from 1842 to 1844, and throughout his life contributed numerous papers to “Silliman’s Journal”, “American Journal of Microscopy”, “Boston Lyceum Natural History”, “Transactions of the Royal Microscopical Society”, “Journal New York Microscopy Society”, and “Trans-American Microscopy Society”, writing chiefly on idatomaceae and marine algae. In addition to The World (1845) and Natural Philosophy for the Use of Schools and Academies (1847) Smith authored: First Lessons in Astronomy and Geology (1848); The Lens, Conspectus of the Diatomaceae (1873); A Few Remarks on Angular Aperture (1879); Species Typicae Diatomacearum (1885-1887); and addresses before the American Microscopical Society.
Smith, Hamilton L.
The World: Or, First Lessons in Astronomy and Geology:
with the Present and Past Condition of our Globe...
Cleveland: M.C. Younglove and Company, 1984.
Smith served as acting president of Hobart College from 1883 to 1884 during the absence or disability of President Hinsdale. A member of several scientific societies, Smith became President of the American Microscopical Society in 1880 and again in 1885.
In September 1886, The Hobart Herald published
an extensive tribute and biography of Professor Smith,
extracts of which were later published in The Echo of
the Seneca yearbook in 1887. The Herald described
Smith as “the main stay of the College” and as responsible
for overseeing all of the business affairs of the College. The Herald Continued, “Proud may we well be of having among us one of the profound scientific thinkers and practical workers of the day, whose ability is recognized and attested by the fourteen prominent scientific associations to which he belongs, and whose name has been upon the pens of such men as Herschel the astronomer, and Van Heurck the naturalist.” The following year The Herald marked the twentieth anniversary of Smith’s arrival at Hobart with these words: “It is only fitting that some notice of this event should be taken by the students as a body. Probably in college in the country, whether great or small, has any may on its faculty more leanred and better known in his particular branches than is Professor H.L. Smith... Yet it should be considered carefully how great have been the services rendered by him in these past twenty years. We all know that there is no man on the faculty more beloved than he is; and in the hearts of all graduates for twenty years past the name of Hamilton Lanphere Smith has always found lodgment.”
Smith was a member of the New York Academy of Sciences; Boston Society of Natural History; Microscopical Society of Edinburgh; Qusckett Microscopical Club of London; Belgium Microscopical Society; and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society.
In 1899, he rendered his resignation to the Trustees, but they prevailed upon him to teach for another year. In 1900, his resignation was accepted, and he was appointed Emeritus Professor and received the degree of D.Sc. In a letter to the trustees, Smith wrote:
A scholarship fund in honor of Smith was begun some time prior to 1900 by John R. Olin. The college could not afford a pension for Smith. Following Olin’s death, his brother, J.D. Olin, continued the fund raising campaign, writing to Hobart alumni on June 1, 1900 that, “It seems most fitting that we alumni should pay this substantial tribute of gratitude to one who has so faithfully labored for a third of a century for Hobart College, rejecting all offers from other institutions.” Olin reported that $421.00 had been raised through 57 subscriptions. A loving cup was scheduled to be presented to Smith on June 19, 1900 by the alumni.
"The smaller observatory, my own personal property, is in good working condition. This and all the appurtenances belonging to it, I hereby transfer to Hobart College. It has cost me about six hundred dollars and I regret that I cannot give something of greater value. As I had used the solar and Stellar diagonals of the large telescope (when required) it added much to the efficiency of the small telescope, if these could be added, say at a cost of about twenty-five to thirty dollars, not absolutely necessary however."