Henry Dilworth Gilpin Notebook: Natural Philosophy, Mathematics


Date: ca. 1819 | Size: 1 volume(s)


Notebook of Henry Dilworth Gilpin for a course on natural philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, ca.1819, with additional notes on mathematics. The professor for both courses was probably Robert Maskell Patterson.

Background note

Henry Dilworth Gilpin (1801-1860) was born to the expatriate Philadelphian Joshua Gilpin in Lancaster, England, in 1801, and spent most of his youth there. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1819, he studied law under Joseph R. Ingersoll and was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar in 1822. Gilpin rapidly gained a reputation in legal circles, earning appointment as U.S. Attorney for Pennsylvania in 1832, solicitor of the U.S. Treasury in 1837, and Attorney General of the United States in 1840-1841. He was also a strong supporter of the arts, editing America's first literary annual, the Atlantic Souvenir in 1826-1832. He was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 1832.

Scope and content

Meticulous notes kept by the future attorney, Henry Dilworth Gilpin, during a course in natural philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, ca.1819. Although the instructor is unidentified, it was probably Robert Maskell Patterson. The last 25 pages of the notebook include notes on mathematics, probably from an unrelated course. The notebook includes an exposition of general mechanics (motion, gravity, hydrostatics, pneumatics, sounds, etc.) and "imponderable matter" (heat, light, electricity, magnetism, etc.). There are numerous diagrams and sketches.

Collection Information

Physical description

1 vol. (123p.)

1 vol. (123p.)


Presented by the estate of Francis Hopkinson Gilpin, 1966 (1966-773ms).

Preferred citation

Cite as: Henry Dilworth Gilpin Notebook, American Philosophical Society.

Processing information

Catalogued by rsc, 2001.

Related material

See also the papers of Robert Maskell Patterson (Call no. B P274), and miscellaneous Patterson correspondence in other collections. The Gilpin Family Papers (Collection 238), located in the collections of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, contain a substantial quantity of correspondence of Henry D. Gilpin.

Early American History Note

This is a notebook kept by Henry Gilpin at the University of Pennsylvania. The content is primarily notes taken during a course in Natural Philosophy. The back of the book contains some mathematical notes. Gilpin went on to become a prominent attorney in Philadelphia.

Indexing Terms

Corporate Name(s)

  • University of Pennsylvania.


  • Educational Material
  • Notebooks
  • Sketches.

Personal Name(s)

  • Gilpin, Henry D. (Henry Dilwor
  • Patterson, Robert M. (Robert Maskell), 1787-1854


  • Education
  • Electricity
  • Gravity
  • Heat
  • Hydrostatics
  • Light
  • Magnetism
  • Mathematics -- Study and teaching
  • Mechanics
  • Motion
  • Natural history
  • Physics -- Study and teaching
  • Pneumatics
  • Science and technology