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Augustus Trowbridge
Born (1870-01-02)January 2, 1870
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Died March 14, 1934(1934-03-14) (aged 64)
Taormina, Sicily, Italy
Place of burial Princeton Cemetery
Alma mater University of Berlin (PhD)
  • Educator
  • physicist
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Princeton University
  • U.S. Army Signal Corps
  • Rockefeller Foundation
Spouse(s) Sarah Esther Fulton (m. 1893)
Children 3
Augustus Trowbridge
Dean of
Princeton University Graduate School

In office
Preceded by Andrew Fleming West
Succeeded by Luther P. Eisenhart
Military career
Allegiance United States
Service/branch U.S. Army Signal Corps
Rank Lieutenant colonel
Battles/wars World War I

Augustus Trowbridge (January 2, 1870 – March 14, 1934) was a physics professor and dean at Princeton University.

Early life

Augustus Trowbridge was born on January 2, 1870 in Brooklyn, New York to Cornelia Polhemus (née Robinson) and George Alfred Trowbridge.[1][2] He attended St. Paul's Military Academy, Phillips Academy Andover, and had tutors in France and Italy.[1][2]

Trowbridge attended Columbia University from 1890 to 1893 and was taught by Mihajlo Pupin, but did not graduate.[1][2][3] At Columbia, he became a member of the Delta Phi fraternity.[2] He withdrew from Columbia and accepted a temporary position as a civil engineer at the Chicago World's Fair. He then attended the University of Berlin and received a Doctor of Philosophy in 1898.[1][3] His thesis was titled The Reflecting Power of Metals.[1]

Personal life

Trowbridge married Sarah Esther Fulton on September 20, 1893.[1][2] She was the daughter of clergyman Justin Dewey Fulton of St. Louis, Boston and Brooklyn. Together, they had three children: George, Cornelius and Katherine. Katherine died from the Spanish flu on October 7, 1918.[1]

He spoke fluent French, German, and Italian.[1][4]


From 1898 to 1900, he was a physics instructor at the University of Michigan.[1][5] He took over some teaching duties for Henry Smith Carhart when he became sick. In 1900, he accepted an invitation to become an assistant professor of mathematical physics at the University of Wisconsin, following his friend Robert W. Wood. He then worked with Charles E. Mendenhall on the optical properties of materials. In 1903, he was promoted to full professor.[1][2]

In the fall of 1906, Trowbridge joined Princeton University as a physics professor.[1][3] He remained there until 1917. Prior to the start of World War I, Trowbridge was elected to the National Research Council. He was nominated by Mendenhall and Robert A. Millikan to the American Sound and Flash Ranging Service. He was commissioned as a major of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. Trowbridge went to France in September 1917 and studied flash and sound ranging operations on the French and British fronts. He was transferred to the Engineers Corps and was promoted to lieutenant colonel.[1]

In 1919, he returned to Princeton and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.[1][6] He left Princeton to serve as an executive director in Paris of the International Education Board of the Rockefeller Foundation from 1925 to 1928.[4] In June 1928, he succeeded Andrew Fleming West as the dean of Princeton's Graduate School.[1][3] He resigned in 1932 citing ill health, but was not replaced until 1933 by Luther P. Eisenhart.[1][7][8]


Trowbridge died on March 14, 1934 in Taormina, Sicily, Italy while on vacation with his wife. He was buried on March 29, 1934 in Princeton Cemetery.[1]



  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 Karl T. Compton (1937). Biographical Memoir of Augustus Trowbridge 1870–1934. Retrieved 2021-07-15. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Trowbridge, Francis Bacon (1908). The Trowbridge genealogy: history of the Trowbridge family in America. New Haven, Connecticut. p. 114. Retrieved 2021-07-16. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Dean A. F. West Quits Princeton After 44 Years". Wilmington, DE. 1927-10-28. p. 14.  open access publication - free to read
  4. 4.0 4.1 Siegmund-Schultze, Reinhard (2001). Rockefeller and the Internationalization of Mathematics Between the Two World Wars: Document and Studies for the Social History of Mathematics in the 20th Century. Birkhäuser Basel. pp. 58,74,145. ISBN 978-3-0348-9505-7. 
  5. "Augustus Trowbridge". 
  6. "15 Admitted to Academy". 1919-05-01. p. 2.  open access publication - free to read
  7. "Augustus Trowbridge, Professor of Physics, Dean of the Graduate School, 1928-1932 (1870-1943), 1910". 
  8. "History". 
  9. "Augustus Trowbridge – Distinguished Service Medal". 

External links

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