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Ewing details the Oxford University career of James Smithson (1765-1829), founding donor of the Smithsonian Institution. She notes that in Smithson's day, attendance at classes was almost optional for wealthy students like Smithson, but he devoted himself to the study of chemistry and mineralogy, preparing himself for a life devoted to science. He was greatly influenced by the scholars at Pembroke College who were pioneering the "new chemistry" at Oxford and believed that science should be used for the broader public good. Ewing traces the influences of Pembroke College on Smithson's life and bequest to the United States.


  • Smithson, James 1765-1829
  • Pembroke College (Oxford University)
  • Oxford University


Smithsonian History Bibliography


Ewing is author of the James Smithson biography, "The Lost World of James Smithson."

Contained within

Oxford Today, The University Magazine, Vol. 20, No. 1 (Magazine)

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024-2520, SIHistory@si.edu


Michaelmas 2007


  • Chemistry
  • Education
  • Mineralogy
  • Universities and colleges
  • Education, Higher

Physical description

Number of pages : 3; Page numbers : 28-30

Full Record

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