The Wisonsin Alumni Magazine


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Extract from THE WISCONSIN ALUMNI MAGAZINE, Volume 16, No. 9, June, 1915, p.557-62 Reccollections of Early Days, JOHN MUIR AT THE UNIVERSITY By Charles E. Vroman, '68, John Muir, whose death has recently been announced, was a student at the

University of Wisconsin for a period of four years, beginning in the [fall] spring of 1861 [1860]. A preparatory department was then attached to the University: this department served the purpose of the modern high school in preparing students for the classes. Muir entered this department, where he remained about a year. My acquaintance with him began in the spring of 1862, when I entered this department at a young age (fourteen years). Because of my youth and inexperience, an anxious father placed me in care of the tutor - then John_£.~-Bar]d,nson - with instructions, I suspect, to put me in a room with a much older student. Anyway, after registration, the tutor took me in charge and led me down to the north dormitory - the dormitory system then prevailed, the north and south halls being used for that purpose. We entered the northeast corner room on the first floor without rap or signal, A young man, of about twe^yMfcw years of age, was there busily at work sawing boards. The room was a strange looking place for the room of a college student. It was my first impression that the tutor was kindly showing me a branch of the college museum. The room was lined with shelves, one above the other, higher than a man could reach. These shelves were filled with retorts, glass tubes, glass jars, botanical and geological specimens and small mechanical contrivances. On the floor, around the sides of the room, were a number of machines of larger size, whose purposes were not apparent at a glance, but which I came to know later. The floor was covered with boards, sawdust and shavings. After looking around a while, the tutor introduced the young man as JOHN MUIR, with the remark: "This is your room and there is your roommate," Thus began my acquaint- ance with Mr. Muir, which quickly ripened into a close and delightful college friendship. It is not my purpose to tell of his explorations and work in natural history, nor of his many articles and books on these subjects for, as to them, the reader is probably as well informed as I. My purpose is to tell of his college life as



Date Original

June 1915

Circa Date

[June 1915]

Page Number


Resource Identifier

MSS048 Va.10

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Owning Institution

University of the Pacific Library Holt-Atherton Special Collections. Please contact this institution directly to obtain copies of the images or permission to publish or use them beyond educational purposes.


John Muir, biography, reminiscence, colleagues, contemporaries, archives, special collections, University of the Pacific, California, Holt-Atherton Special Collections, history, naturalist