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The Establishment of the Ph.D. at Toronto: A Case of American Influence

  • Peter N. Ross (a1)


In 1902 the University of Toronto joined American universities in celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of Johns Hopkins University. For the occasion, A. Bruce Macallum, Professor of Physiology and holder of the Johns Hopkins' Ph.D. (1888), wrote a short essay in commemoration of the American institution. He acknowledged the contemporary debt owed to Johns Hopkins and, by inference, the obligation of Toronto to its example:

But what the Johns Hopkins University lacked in age it made up in service to American scholarship and higher education. In those few years it completely reformed American university ideals, and it developed the higher university work on this continent to a degree that no other university succeeded in doing.



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1. Macallum, A. Bruce who graduated in 1880 from the University of Toronto, taught there from 1883 to 1917. During the period 1896 to 1917, he actively promoted the establishment of the Ph.D. degree at Toronto, its extension to a larger number of disciplines, and the creation of a graduate school. In 1917 he resigned his position at the University to undertake the chairmanship of the newly formed National Research Council of Canada.

2. “The Johns Hopkins University Celebration,” University of Toronto Monthly (April 1902), pp. 176–80.

3. Ibid., p. 176.

4. Loudon, James earned the B.A. degree from the University of Toronto in 1862. In 1863 he was appointed tutor in classics and mathematics and in 1875 he became the first Canadian to hold a professorship at the University when he assumed the professorship of mathematics and natural philosophy. He was also the first Canadian president of the University of Toronto, for which he provided dynamic leadership during a period of expansion. For a biography of Loudon see Langton, H. H., James Loudon and the University of Toronto (Toronto, 1927).

5. Johns Hopkins University, Celebration of the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Founding of the University and Inauguration of Ira Remsen, LL.D., as President of the University (Baltimore, 1902), p. 2 [hereafter cited as Celebration of the Founding of the University].

6. Ibid., p. 100.

7. Ibid., p. 45.

8. University of Toronto Monthly (June 1902), p. 254, and (June 1903), p. 309.

9. Hug, Elsie A., Seventy-five Years in Education: The Role of the School of Education, New York University, 1890–1965 (New York, 1965), p. 30; Sherwood, Sidney, The Universities of the State of New York, Contributions to American Educational History, ed. Adams, H. B., no. 28 (Washington, 1900), p. 67.

10. Ross, George W. served Ontario as minister of education from 1883 to 1899, when he became premier—a position he held until his party lost the election of 1905. He wrote a political autobiography, Getting into Parliament and After (Toronto, 1913).

11. Price, R. R., The Financial Support of State Universities (Cambridge, 1924); University of Toronto Monthly (March 1901), pp. 203–20; Ross, George W. Hon., Address Delivered on Moving the Second Reading of a Bill re. the University of Toronto in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, April 1, 1897 (Toronto, 1897); Mulock, W. J. to Ross, March 12, 1897, and Blake, S. H. to Ross, May 10, 1901, Department of Education, University of Toronto and Upper Canada College Correspondence, Series D-7 [hereafter cited as Series D-7], Public Archives of Ontario [hereafter cited as P.A.O.]; see also Varsity and University of Toronto Monthly for 1900–1901.

12. Macallum, A. B., “The University Question in Ontario,“ Varsity, March 12, 1901; “The Presentation of the Portrait of Dr. Loudon,” University of Toronto Monthly (November 1911), pp. 36–37.

13. Loudon, James, “Presidential Address: The Universities in Relation to Research,“ Proceedings of the Royal Society of Canada, 1902, app. A, p. lvii.

14. The Strength of the University (Toronto, 1968), p. 191.

15. Macallum, A. B., “The Foundation of the Board of Graduate Studies,“ University of Toronto Monthly (February 1916), p. 224.

16. Mathews, Robin and Steel, James, The Struggle for Canadian Universities (Toronto, 1970); the Executive and Finance Committee, Canadian Association of University Teachers, “‘Canadianization’ and the University,” in Critical Issues in Canadian Society, ed. Boydell, Craig L. et al. (Toronto, 1971); the 1971–1972 Gerstein Lectures at York University, Toronto, were designed around the theme “Nationalism and the University.”

17. Rudolph, Frederick, The American College and University: A History (New York, 1965), pp. 333–52; Rudy, S. Willis, “The ‘Revolution’ in American Higher Education, 1865–1900,” Harvard Educational Review (21:3), pp. 155–74; Veysey, Laurence, The Emergence of the American University (Chicago, 1965).

18. Quoted in Rudolph, American College and University, p. 333.

19. Rosenberg, Ralph P., “The First American Doctor of Philosophy Degree,“ Journal of Higher Education (October 1961), pp. 387–94; Furniss, Edgar S., The Graduate School of Yale: A Brief History (New Haven, 1965).

20. Rudy, , “The ‘Revolution’ in American Higher Education,“ p. 167; Hawkins, Hugh, Pioneer: A History of Johns Hopkins University, 1874–89 (Ithaca, 1960); Cordasco, Francesco, Daniel Coit Gilman and the Protean Ph.D.: The Shaping of American Graduate Education (Leiden, 1960), pp. 54–115.

21. Rudolph, , American College and University, pp. 346–48.

22. Ibid., p. 395.

23. Celebration of the Founding of the University, p. 80.

24. Veysey, , Emergence of the American University, p. 330.

25. Ben-David, Joseph and Zloczower, Awraham, “Universities and Academic Systems in Modern Societies,” European Journal of Sociology 3 (1962): 4584. For their explanation of the diffusion of innovation, the authors of this article point to the interaction of a decentralized system of universities in a competitive environment. On pp. 71–76 they discuss the American situation.

26. Nevins, Allan, The State Universities and Democracy (Urbana, Ill., 1962), p. 101.

27. Donnelly, Walter A., ed., The University of Michigan: An Encyclopedic Survey 3 (Ann Arbor, Mich., 1953), quoted on p. 1043.

28. Solberg, Winton U., The University of Illinois, 1867–1894 (Urbana, Ill., 1968), pp. 341–67.

29. Curti, Merle and Cartensen, Vernon, The University of Wisconsin, 1848–1925 1 (Madison, Wise, 1949): 448–49.

30. McHenry, D. C., “The Higher Education of Women,“ Proceedings of the Ontario Educational Association, 1879, p. 75; Coleman, A. P., “A Plea for More Science,” Canada Educational Monthly (March 1880), p. 146; W.H.P., “German Science,” Varsity, October 16, 1880.

31. “Canadian Institute—Occupation of the New Building and Opening Address of Prof. Loudon,” Toronto Mail, January 29, 1877.

32. Minutes of the Senate, April 18, 1874; June 17, 1874; December 8, 1874; December 9, 1874; December 10, 1874, Office of the Registrar, University of Toronto [hereafter cited as U.T.R.].

33. Hunter, J. H., “The University Question,“ Canada Educational Monthly (January 1880), pp. 19.

34. Ibid., p. 2.

35. Blake, Edward, Chancellor of the University of Toronto, 1873–1900, graduated from the University, B.A. (1854) and M.A. (1858). He had a controversial career in politics in Ontario, Canada, and Britain. Between 1880 and 1892 he worked to forward Toronto as a national center for higher learning. For a biography see Loudon, James, “Edward Blake,” University of Toronto Monthly (May 1912), and Bissell, C. T., ed., Our Living Tradition (Toronto, 1957).

36. “Chancellor Blake's Address,” Canada Educational Monthly (September 1880), pp. 402–6.

37. Ibid., p. 405.

38. Mills, T. Wesley, “The Johns Hopkins University of Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.,“ Canada Educational Monthly (January 1882), pp. 16.

39. Johns Hopkins University, Register of Johns Hopkins University, 1881–82.

40. Minutes of the Senate, January 13, 1882, U.T.R.

41. The nine fellowships were offered in the following departments: French and German, Classics (2 awards), English, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Mineralogy and Geology, and Natural History.

42. Cordasco, , Daniel Coit Gilman, pp. 8586.

43. For a biography of Daniel Wilson see Langton, H. H., Sir Daniel Wilson, a Memoir (Edinburgh, 1929).

44. Globe, May 18, 1883.

45. Toronto Mail, April 28, 1883; April 30, 1883; May 1, 1883; Globe, June 11, 1883. Varsity, April 21, 1883; October 6, 1883.

46. Minutes of the Senate, May 25, 1883; May 29, 1883; October 20, 1883, U.T.R.

47. Varsity, February 24, 1883; June 2, 1883; January 31, 1885.

48. Minutes of the Senate, 1883–1897, U.T.R.

49. Information on the fellows was compiled from three sources: Morgan, H. J., The Canadian Men and Women of the Time, 1912 (Toronto, 1912); University of Toronto, Register for the University of Toronto for the Year 1920 (Toronto, 1920); Province of Ontario Gazetteer and Directory, 1907–08 (Ingersoll, Ont., 1908).

50. Macallum, , “The Foundation of the Board of Graduate Studies,“ p. 220.

51. Hunter, , “The University Question“; Mills, “The Johns Hopkins University”; Adams, Charles K., “University Education in the United States,“ Canada Education Monthly (April and September 1887), pp. 131–13 and 268–73; Gordy, J. P., “Chairs of Pedagogy,“ ibid. (March 1891), pp. 9398; Sill, E. R., “Should a College Educate?” ibid. (January and February 1886), pp. 10–13 and 57–62.

52. “Looking to Cornell,” February 2, 1884; Chamberlain, A. F., “The University and the Government—IV ,“ November 7, 1894; Fairclough, H. R., “Stanford University,” January 16, 1895.

53. Varsity, December 2, 1890.

54. In the Loudon Papers there is a number of letters in which Loudon and Koenig exchanged information about experiments, usually in acoustics; moreover, Loudon wrote a biographical sketch of Koenig (University of Toronto Department of Rare Books and Special Collections [hereafter cited as U.T.A.]).

55. Ashley to Ross, March 21, 1889, Series D-7, P.A.O.

56. Ashley to Ross, July 17, 1892, ibid.

57. Baldwin to Ross, November 17, 1890, ibid.; Baldwin, W. J., “The Psychological Laboratory in the University of Toronto,“ Science 19 (1892): 143–44; Hall, G. Stanley, Life and Confessions of a Psychologist (New York, 1924), p. 259.

58. Baldwin to Harcourt, R., Provincial Treasurer, October 4, 1892; Baldwin to Ross, n.d., Series D-7, P.A.O.; Alexander, W. J., ed., University of Toronto and Its Colleges, 1827–1906 (Toronto, 1906), app. B and C.

59. Loudon to Ross, November 8, 1895, Series D-7, P.A.O.

60. Loudon, James, “Post-Graduate Courses,“ Canada Educational Monthly (January 1898), pp. 3839.

61. Ibid., p. 25.

62. “The Ph.D. Octopus,” Educational Review (February 1918), p. 151 (reprinted from Harvard Monthly [March 1902]).

63. Boska to DeLury, February 24, 1895, DeLury Collection, U.T.A.

64. Squair, John who received the B.A. in 1883 from the University of Toronto, was among the first fellows appointed by the University. A supporter of James Loudon's policies, he was appointed associate professor in 1892, shortly after Loudon became president.

65. “Post-Graduate Courses in the University of Toronto,” Proceedings of the Ontario Educational Association, 1894, p. 67.

66. Alexander, , University of Toronto and Its Colleges, pp. 5770; McNab, G. G., The Development of Higher Education in Ontario (Toronto, 1925), pp. 8391.

67. “The University of Toronto,” Canada Educational Monthly (February 1897), p. 68.

68. Vaughan, V. C., “The Necessity of Encouraging Scientific Work,“ Formal Opening of the New Building of the Biological Department, December 19, 1889 (Toronto, 1890), p. 20, U.T.A. (reprinted from the Canadian Practitioner, January 1, January 15, and February 1, 1890).

69. “The University of Toronto,” Canada Educational Monthly (February 1897), p. 68.

70. Masters, D. C., The Rise of Toronto, 1850–1890 (Toronto, 1947); Spelt, J., The Urban Development in South-Central Ontario (Assen, Neth., 1955).

71. Ontario, Legislative Assembly, 50 Victoria, ch. 43. This Act revived the University as a teaching body. (Between 1853 and 1887 University College was responsible for all teaching in the arts at the University of Toronto.) Under the new arrangement the colleges had their curriculum restricted to Greek, Latin, French, German, English, oriental languages, moral philosophy, and ancient history, while the University was authorized to teach all additional subjects, including history, political science, Spanish, Italian, mathematics, and the sciences.

72. Ben-David, Joseph, “Scientific Productivity and Academic Organization in Nineteenth-Century Medicine,“ in Sociology and History, ed. Cahnman, W. J. and Boskoff, A., (New York, 1964), p. 518.

73. Flexner, Abraham, Medical Education in the United States and Canada, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Bulletin no. 4, (Boston, 1910), p. 323.

74. Science, n.s. 3, January 17, 1896, pp. 103–4.

75. Alexander, , University of Toronto and Its Colleges, app. C; Langton, H. H., “University of Toronto Studies,“ Varsity, March 14, 1907.

76. Edward Blake to Ross, July 27, 1892, and August 29, 1892, and Blake to Premier Oliver Mowat, September 2, 1892, Blake Papers, U.T.A.

77. Hume, J. G. to Blake, August 22, 1892; McCurdy, J. F. to Blake, August 29, 1892, ibid.

78. Loudon, James, Address at the Convocation of University College, Toronto, October 11, 1893 (Toronto, 1893), p. 8.

79. University of Toronto Monthly (March 1901), p. 213.

80. Blake, Hon. Edward, Address at the Convocation of the University of Toronto, June 10, 1892 (Toronto, 1892), p. 1; “Attendance at the University of Toronto and Victoria College, 1892–1899,” Loudon Papers, U.T.A.

81. Ross, George W., Address Delivered on Moving the Second Reading of a Bill re. University of Toronto in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, April 1, 1897, p. 11.

82. New York, 1896.

83. Ibid., p. 184, “The University of Toronto,” Canada Educational Monthly (February 1897), p. 67; Langton, , James Loudon and the University of Toronto, p. 17.

84. Ross, George W., The Policy of the Education Department (Toronto, 1897).

85. Osler had also attended a private school, Trinity College School, for part of his secondary education, although Ross did not mention this.

86. “Annual Convocation at University College,” Canada Educational Monthly (November 1886), p. 342.

87. Wilson, Sir Daniel, Address at the Convocation of University College 1888 (Toronto, 1888), p. 17.

88. Squair, , “Post-Graduate Courses in the University of Toronto,“ p. 67; Squair, John, “Lessons from Lost Opportunities,“ University of Toronto Monthly (October 1904), p. 10.

89. Varsity, October 14, October 23, and November 11, 1897.

90. Wilson, Sir Daniel, Address at the Convocation of University College, 1890 (Toronto, 1890), p. 16.

91. In 1906 a Royal Commission was appointed to investigate the problems that Toronto faced as a provincial university. A number of briefs from the colleges and individuals argued the importance of liberal culture (Ontario, Royal Commission on the University of Toronto, Report [Toronto, 1906]).

92. Alexander was the first Canadian to earn the Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins.

93. University of Toronto, Annual Report of the President of the University of Toronto for the Year Ending June 30th, 1902, p. 6.

94. Minutes of the Senate, March 13, 1896; March 12, 1897; May 14, 1897, U.T.A.

95. Ibid., March 12, 1897.

96. Loudon, , “Post-Graduate Courses,“ p. 38.

97. That the University of Toronto followed the general pattern that was emerging during the 1890s is confirmed by a comparison of the regulations for the Ph.D. at Toronto and at nine leading American universities: California, Chicago, Columbia, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Michigan, Princeton, Wisconsin, and Yale. All nine were charter members of the Association of American Universities and, since they produced the majority of doctorates in the United States, were influential models.

I am grateful to Lois Adair and Michael Katz for reading and criticizing an earlier version of this article. Of course, errors and omissions remain my responsibility.


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