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John Brocklesby Papers

Identifier: John Brocklesby papers

Scope and Contents

This small collection consists of weather observations and thermometrical readings taken intermittently between September 1864 and November 1883, as well as some scattered manuscript and printed letters, and printed ephemera. Daily temperature readings (minimum, maximum, and mean) taken between October 1876 and November 1883 form the bulk of the observations.

Also included are a register of "Rain Snow Barometer Thermometer Wind and Breeze...for the month of April 1869, at Retreat for the Insane, Hartford, CT;" a monthly rainfall chart observed at Reservoir No. 1 at West Hartford in 1869; and a printed "Table of Temperature at Santa Barbara, CA for the Year 1874, prepared by Dr. L.N. Dimmick."


  • 1864-1876

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to the public and must be used in the John M.K. Davis Reading Room of the Watkinson Library, Trinity College Library, Hartford, Connecticut. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws when using this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Digital surrogates may be provided to researchers, in accordance with the duplication policy of the Watkinson Library.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information (e.g. social security numbers) in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.

Biographical / Historical

John Brocklesby, born near Birmingham, England, in 1811, arrived in the United States with his father in 1820. He received his B.A. from Trinity College (Hartford, CT) in 1835, followed by a Masters from the same institution ten years later. In between, he tutored Mathematics and studied law at Yale Law School, graduating with a LL.D. in 1835. He practiced law in Hartford between June 1840 and December 1841.

Starting in January 1842, Brocklesby taught mathematics and natural philosophy at Trinity College (Hartford, CT). He lectured on electricity and magnetism. In 1846, he took weather readings for Trinity's new weather station and sent weekly reports (of temperature, daily rainfall, hours of sunlight, etc.) to the Hartford Times and Hartford Courant. One time students fooled him into thinking that the amount of rain which had fallen was equal to the amount that they had poured into his rainfall gauge.

At a time when research and publication was not requisite for college professors, Brocklesby pursued an active agenda of scientific research, which led to a number of publications. These included separate textbooks on meterology, astronomy, and physical geography, all written for academies, schools, and general readers. His interest in telescopes and microscopes did not diminish his faith in a divine creator, as his Views of the microscopic world : designed for general reading, and as a hand-book for classes in natural science indicated in its preface of November 1850 that "by the aid of this instrument we follow the footsteps of Divinity" (p. 3).

Trinity administration (if not always the students) seemed to have enjoyed his teaching, as he lasted forty years at Trinity College. A story of some legitimacy indicated that he chided students for their tobacco spitting in class and chapel, telling one group that "Those who expectorate on this floor need not expect-to-rate high in this class" (Weaver, 102). He founded the Trinity College chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, serving as the president of its chapter for 22 years. In 1854, his salary was raised from $1,000 to $1,200. In the summer of 1862, he served on the "Parietal Board" to enforce discipline upon a number of students who had become unruly. He also served four times as Acting President of Trinity College (between June 28, 1860, and April 8, 1861; between January 1864 and summer 1864; and between December 1865 and October 1867; between July 1, 1874, and November 1874).

John Brocklesby became Professor Emeritus in 1882 and died in Hartford on June 21, 1889.

John Brocklesby (1811-1889) had three sons, all of whom graduated from Trinity College: lawyer John Henry Brocklesby (1844-1909), architect William Claiborne Brocklesby (1847-1910), and insurance man Arthur Kain Brocklesby (1849-1922).


2 Folder(s) (146 leaves) ; 41 x 44 cm.

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred from Trinitiana (Y B864r), 11.15.2019.

Related Materials

Printed Works

Brocklesby, John. Elements of Meteorology, with questions for examination, designed for schools and academies. New York: Pratt, Woodford and Co., 1848.

Brocklesby, John. Views of the Microscopic World: Designed for General Reading, and as a Hand-book for Classes in Natural Science. New York: Pratt, Woodford and Company. 4 Courtlandt-Street, 1851.

Brocklesby, John. Elements of Astronomy, with Explanatory Notes, and Questions for Examination. New York: Farmer, Brace and Co., 1855.

Brocklesby, John. Elements of Physical Geography: Together with a Treatise on the Physical Phenomena of the United States : Illustrated by One Hundred and Fifty Engravings and Thirteen Copper-plate Maps, Executed in the First Style of the Art. Philadelphia: E.H. Butler and Co., 1882.

Brocklesby, John. On the periodicity of the rainfall in the United States, in relation to the periodicity of the solar spots. Reprinted from Proceedings of 23d meeting (August 1874) of American Association for the Advancement of Science. (1875)

Archival Material

Additional John Brocklesby materials are located in the Early Presidents' Papers, Watkinson Library, Trinity College, Hartford, CT.

"Brocklesby, John," Deceased Alumni File, Watkinson Library, Trinity College, Hartford, CT.

Easton, A.S. to John Brocklesby, autograph letter signed. [San Francisco, CA], dated November 20, 1853. University of California-Berkeley libraries.


Biographies of Graduates of the Yale Law School, 1824-1899. Ed. Roger Walker Tuttle. New Haven: Tuttle, Morehouse and Taylor Company, 1911.

Brocklesby, John. Views of the Microscopic World: Designed for General Reading, and as a Hand-book for Classes in Natural Science. New York: Pratt, Woodford and Company. 4 Courtlandt-Street, 1851.

John Brocklesby: Founder of the Trinity Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. [Hartford], 1962.

Hart, Samuel. An address commemorative of John Brocklesby, LL.D.: Late professor emeritus in Trinity College. By appointment of the Association of the Alumni.

Weaver, Glenn. The History of Trinity College: Volume One. Hartford: Trinity College Press, 1967.

Processing Information

No additional processing was conducted at the time when the ArchivesSpace finding aid was created in 2020.

Guide to the John Brocklesby papers
Eric C. Stoykovich
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Trinity College Archives Repository

Watkinson Library
300 Summit St.
Hartford CT 06106 USA