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Crow Professorship

History and information about the Crow Professorship in Physics at Washington University in St. Louis

The Wayman Crow Professorship of Physics at Washington University

Established in 1860, this professorship honors Wayman Crow, who secured the charter for Washington University on February 22, 1853, and who, as vice-president of its Board of Directors, was during his lifetime one of the University's most tireless workers and generous benefactors.

The youngest of 12 children, Mr. Crow was born in Hartford, Kentucky, in 1808. His formal schooling ended before his 12th birthday, and he began a five-year apprenticeship in the dry goods business, eventually managing his own store and then purchasing it on credit--all before he turned 18. In 1835 he moved with his family to St. Louis, where he invested his capital in a wholesale dry goods company, later branching out into insurance, railroads, and banking. 

His wealth brought social prominence and civic responsibilities. For nearly a half century there was rarely an educational, civic, or philanthropic project in which he did not assume a large role. He twice served in Missouri's Senate, where in his second term he drafted and secured passage of a bill drafted and secured passage of a bill chartering a new educational institution named after his minister and friend, William Greenleaf Eliot. 

Through a change of names and appropriate changes in the charter, it came to officially to be known as Washington University in 1857. While securing of the charter was entirely Wayman Crow's idea, fulfillment of the idea was largely the work of WIlliam Greenleaf Eliot, and history, appropriately, accords to the two of them shared honor as co-founders of Washington University. 

Mr. Crow died in St. Louis in 1885.