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He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1853, and taught civil engineering there from 1855 to 1871. He was one of four professors who founded its Department of Mines, Arts and Manufacturers (1855), and he served as a University Trustee (1871–86). As an undergraduate, he was a founding member of its Zeta Psi Fraternity, Sigma Chapter (1850).
He was elected to the American Philosophical Society (at age 24), was a member of the Academy of Natural Sciences, and a charter member of the National Academy of Sciences. He was the author of Terrestrial Magnetism and the Magnetism of Iron Ships (1877, revised 1883).
He served in the Union Cavalry during the American Civil War, and on the engineering staffs of General John F. Reynolds and General William F. Smith. As a volunteer officer in the United States Army Corps of Engineers, he completed an 1862 survey mapping the Potomac River. As a member of the Pennsylvania militia, he fought at Antietam and Gettysburg.
Furness and Eakins
As chairman of the Building Committee for the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, he ran the 1871 design competition for the museum-and-art-school's new building, which was won by the novice firm of Furness & Hewitt. Rogers's sister, Helen Kate, was married to the Shakespearean scholar Horace Howard Furness, brother of the PAFA-commission-winning architect Frank Furness.
He hired Furness to alter his Rittenhouse Square city house (1871), and to design "Fairholme" (1874–75, now altered), his summer cottage in Newport, Rhode Island. He also had a country house in Wallingford, Pennsylvania. Furness later altered Rogers's city house for Alexander J. Cassatt (1888).
He served as chairman of PAFA's Committee on Instruction (1878–83), and changed the Academy's policy to admitting women under the same conditions and offering them the same opportunities as men.
He recruited the controversial artist Thomas Eakins back to teach at the school, and commissioned an important painting from him: The Fairman Rogers Four-in-Hand (1879–80). It shows Rogers, his wife Rebecca Gilpin Rogers, and friends driving through Philadelphia's Fairmount Park. In 1882, he promoted Eakins to director of PAFA's art school.
In 1883, he invited the animal-locomotion photographer Eadweard Muybridge to lecture at PAFA. This led to Muybridge's moving from California to Philadelphia, and continuing his research at the University of Pennsylvania's Veterinary School.
He was an avid coaching enthusiast, founder of the Philadelphia Coaching Club, and author of what is still the definitive guide to the sport: A Manual of Coaching (Philadelphia: 1900).
Horace Howard Furness wrote a biographical memoir of his brother-in-law: F. R. [Fairman Rogers] 1833-1900 (Philadelphia: privately printed, 1903). A March 2007 exhibit at the University of Pennsylvania, Equus Unbound: Fairman Rogers and the Age of the Horse, highlighted materials from his papers.
Fairman Rogers astride his mare Josephine (1878) by Thomas Eakins.
The Fairman Rogers Four-in-Hand (1879-80), by Thomas Eakins.
- Horace Howard Furness, F. R. [Fairman Rogers] 1833-1900 (Philadelphia: privately printed, 1903), p. 11.
- Edgar Fahs Smith, Biographical Memoir of Fairman Rogers (1906), p. 8.
- Fairman Rogers, A Manual of Coaching (1900) from Google books.
- The New York Times, August 24, 1900 obituary
- Biographical Memoir of Fairman Rogers by Edgar Fahs Smith (1906)
- Fairman Rogers Papers, at the University of Pennsylvania Archives
- Eadweard Muybridge and the University of Pennsylvania
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Gilman, D. C.; Thurston, H. T.; Moore, F., eds. (1905). "article name needed". New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.