fyi..aj wright // ajwright@...
Sent: Saturday, November 29, 2003 1:50 AM
To: ANB bioday mailing list
Subject: ANB - Bio of the Day
American National Biography Online
Thach, Charles Coleman (15 Mar. 1860-2 Oct. 1921), educator,
was born in Athens, Alabama, the son of Robert Henry Thach, an
attorney, and Eliza Lockhart Coleman. He enrolled at the Alabama
Agricultural and Mechanical College at Auburn in 1873, graduating
with a bachelor of engineering in 1877. In 1885 Thach married
Ellen Stanford Smith in Auburn; their marriage produced five children.
Thach taught for one year at O. J. Ferrell's private academy
at Hopkinsville, Kentucky, then returned to the Agricultural
and Mechanical College as an assistant professor in the preparatory
department in 1878. The following year he was appointed principal
of the department. Thach left Auburn in 1880-1881 to study economics
at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1881-1882
he held a professorship in modern languages at Austin College
in Austin, Texas. The Agricultural and Mechanical College in
Auburn offered Thach a competitive position for 1882-1883, and
he returned to Alabama, where he worked for the remainder of his career.
Thach's professorial titles reflect both his changing interests
and reforms in American education. In 1887-1888 Thach was named
professor of English, professor of Latin, recording secretary,
and librarian, and for the first time, he taught political economy.
One of Thach's major contributions to education was the founding
of an economics department at the Agricultural and Mechanical
College. He became the college's first professor of political
economy (and English) in 1892-1893. In 1899 the Alabama state
legislature changed the name of the college at Auburn to the
Alabama Polytechnic Institute (API); in 1960 its official title
was once again changed to reflect popular usage, and Auburn University
Thach, named president of the college in 1902, directed the
modernization of API. He set the stage for the large-scale fundraising
that would build the school into a nationally recognized institution
of higher education. In 1905 he wrote to Andrew Carnegie requesting
funds to build a freestanding library at Auburn. A founding member
of the Alabama Library Association, Thach took particular pride
in API's book holdings. He wrote to Carnegie, "I can say without
exaggeration that [our library] is regarded . . . as one of the
very best in the South." Auburn's Carnegie Library served the
college from 1909 to 1963, and the building continues in service
for administrative offices. The University of Alabama awarded
Thach an honorary doctorate in 1904; the same year he became
API's first member of the American Economic Association. In 1908-1909
the API catalog assumed its modern form, and structural colleges
were established: academic, engineering and mines, and agricultural
science. Political economy was retitled economics in 1915, and
Thach continued to teach in his capacity as professor of psychology
Thach became president emeritus in December 1919 and died in
Dalton, Georgia, two years later. His career was a watershed
for API. He was the first alumnus to attain the presidency and
the last president to be an integral member of the faculty. Thach
inherited a nineteenth-century college, he bequeathed a nascent
twentieth-century university. He reorganized and directed the
college and founded the department of economics.
The papers of Charles Coleman Thach are housed in the Presidential
Collection, Department of Archives, Ralph Brown Draughon Library,
Auburn University. The papers, which can be accessed with special
permission from the president's office, include personal and
professional correspondence. Thach's history of API to 1888 is
in Alfred M. Bond, Northern Alabama, Historical and Biographical
(1888). The role Thach played in the creation of Auburn's economics
department is set out in David O. Whitten and Bess E. Whitten,
A History of Economics and Business at Auburn University (1992).
David O. Whitten
Back to the top
David O. Whitten. "Thach, Charles Coleman";
American National Biography Online Feb. 2000.
Copyright (c) 2000 American Council of Learned Societies. Published
by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.
Note: This email has been sent in plain text format so that it may be
read with the standard ASCII character set. Special characters and
formatting have been normalized.
Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies of the
American National Biography of the Day and Sample Biographies provided
that the following statement is preserved on all copies:
From American National Biography, published by Oxford University
Press, Inc., copyright 2000 American Council of Learned Societies.
Further information is available at http://www.anb.org
American National Biography articles may not be published commercially
(in print or electronic form), edited, reproduced or otherwise altered
without the written permission of Oxford University Press which acts as
an agent in these matters for the copyright holder, the American Council
of Learned Societies. Contact: Permissions Department, Oxford University
Press, 198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016; fax: 212-726-6444.
To unsubscribe please send an email message (from the account that you wish
to unsubscribe) to biod-request@...
and include the word "remove" in
the subject line.