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A report has been received of the death at Ravenna, Ohio, on March 23, 1924, of Dr. Thomas Corwin Mendenhall, formerly Superintendent of the Coast and Geodetic Survey and well known asdr. thomas corwin mendenhall a physicist and as an educator.

He was born at Hanoverton, Ohio, October 4, 1841; received the greater part of his education at public schools, but by individual study and exertions was able to qualify as a physicist and to receive honorary degrees from many learned institutions. As a professor of physics and mechanics, Dr. Mendenhall was at different times connected with the Ohio State University, the University of Michigan, the Western Reserve University, the Imperial University of Japan, and served with the U.S. Signal Corps, 1884 to 1886. He was president of the Rose Polytechnic Institute 1886 to 1889 and of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute from 1894 to 1901.

He was appointed Director of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey July 9, 1889, and served until September 20, 1894. During this period he was also Superintendent of the United States Standard Weights and Measures, which office, then forming part of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, was later developed into the present Bureau of Standards; member of the Light House Board, and one of the commissioners appointed to determine and mark boundary line between the United States and Canada, including the boundary of Alaska. He was a member of the first Bering Sea Commission in 1891, Massachusetts Highway Commission, and of the International Electrical Congress.

Under his direction the scientific work of the survey received a great impetus, and much important work was accomplished.

Dr. Mendenhall devised a quarter second's pendulum for gravity measurements and instituted improvements in the measurement of base lines with wire tapes, in the construction of instruments for precise leveling and in the methods used in triangulation and gravity work, and developed a comprehensive plan for the study of terrestrial magnetism. During his administration, observations were begun for the study of the variation of latitude.

After leaving the survey he became president of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and of many scientific societies. He was the author of "A Century of Electricity." Dr. Mendenhall married Susan Allan Marple July 12, 1870, by whom he had one son, Charles E. Mendenhall, who is a professor of physics in the University of Wisconsin.


C&GS BULLETIN, 3/1924

 


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