In 1873, Lafayette student Albert Hatch Davidson submitted his thesis on the Bushkill Bridge to the department of civil engineering. The work includes intricate drawings as well as elaborate hand lettering for the chapter titles.
Click on the image at left for a PDF scan of the chapter “Calculation of Strains.”
For a PDF document of the contents of Davidson’s thesis, click here.
From the preface of the engineering thesis of Cyrus Knecht, Class of 1873:
The following pages are my first attempt at thesis writing and I fear it will be called an attempt rather than a thesis itself. The Through Span of the bridge which crosses the Lehigh River at Easton Penna. affords one an excellent subject for a thesis. An experienced engineer could take the structure as a whole and in detail and make a lengthy discourse upon it. He could find the effect of the different stresses which act upon the bridge and trace it to each part of the structure however complicated they may be, and at the same time he could find the different strains produced by these stresses upon the several constituent parts within a differential I might say, but as the class ’73 have studied bridge construction but a few weeks this can not be expected of them, all we can do will be to deal superficially with our subjects and furthermore since we have had nothing to do with the Double Panel System of which my subject is one, I beg to offer this as an apology for the imperfect manner in which I have treated it, and if I have taken a wrong view in regard to any point I hope allowance will be made.
Go, classmate and room mate;
May blessings attend thee,
May honor and virtue
At all times commend thee.
May goblin vexations;
As the “College Bell’s” toll,
On the “men,” “de,” “gar” follies,
Never trouble thy soul.
One more comfort I would thee,
In the drear maze of life;
A happy, devoted,
And prolific “wife.”
Here are included the best wishes of yours,
in Brotherhood, James P. Boyd
Sentiment written by James P. Boyd
to classmate Henry Stothoff.
Click here for a PDF image of the manuscript.
Have this evening experienced the evil effects of procrastination. Am having an essay for tomorrow at 11 o’clock and did not write any of it previous to this evening. Setting this apart as a time to devote to it. But was prevented by visits from several friends. So here I am without a composition and the time for reading it almost at hand. How very important it is to not only get amply ready, but to get ready in ample time. How much better must those performances be, which are gotten up at one’s discretion (as regards to time) and upon which he will have time to ponder after they are written before he reads them than those hastily prepared which must be only a collection of thoughts fumbled together in a confused mass without the symmetry of arrangement. Were visited in our Society to-night by Mr. Hoeltin of the Borough who favored us with a very complimentary speech. I debated extemporaneously on the question “Does mathematics tend to a proper development of the intellect?” Question decided in the affirmative. Must retire and rise early if I possibly can. For I must prepare my composition tomorrow at all hazards.
From the diary of James P. Boyd, Class of 1859
Click here for a PDF document transcription of Boyd’s diary.