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William A. Norton

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William A. Norton
Portrait of Norton at Yale College
William Augustus Norton

DiedSeptember 21, 1883(1883-09-21) (aged 72)
Alma materWest Point Military Academy
Occupation(s)Civil engineering professor and college president
Employer(s)University of the City of New York
Delaware College
Brown University
Sheffield Scientific School
AwardsMember, National Academy of Sciences

William Augustus Norton (October 25, 1810 – September 21, 1883) was a civil engineer and educator. He was the president of Delaware College and later a founding faculty member of the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale University.

Norton was born in East Bloomfield, New York.[1] Norton graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York in 1831 and began his academic career there as assistant professor of natural and experimental philosophy. During this time, he also participated in the Black Hawk War.[1] In 1833, he became professor of natural philosophy and astronomy at the University of the City of New York.[1] In 1839, he moved to Delaware College as professor and then in 1850, became president.[2] He had planned to turn the school into a scientific institution but was discouraged and left in 1850, to become professor of natural philosophy and civil engineering at Brown University. He was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 1844.[3] In 1852, Norton moved to Yale College with his students to become the school's first professor of engineering, and became one of the founding faculty of the Sheffield Scientific School when it was founded in 1854.[4] In 1873, he became a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He remained at Yale until his death in 1883.[4]

While at the University of the City of New York, Norton completed a college astronomy textbook known as An Elementary Treatise on Astronomy (Wiley & Putnam, 1839), which was re-issued in four editions.[1] He was also the author of the First Book of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy (1858).



  • Norton, William A. (1839). Elementary Treatise on Astronomy. New York: Wiley & Putnam.
  • Norton, William A. (1859). First Book of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy. New York: A.S. Barnes & Burr.

Journal articles[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Trowbridge, W. P. (1886). Memoir of William A. Norton, 1810–1883 (PDF). Vol. 2. Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Sciences. pp. 189–199. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  2. ^ Munroe, John A. (1983). "A Scholarship Scheme and a Spurious Prosperity". The University of Delaware: A History. University of Delaware. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  3. ^ "APS Member History". search.amphilsoc.org. Retrieved 2021-04-12.
  4. ^ a b Dwight, Timothy (1903). Memories of Yale Life and Men, 1854–1899. New York: Dodd, Mead and Company. pp. 357–360.

Further reading[edit]

  • Mitchell, Martha (1993). "Engineering". Encyclopedia Brunoniana. Providence, R.I.: Brown University Library. OCLC 31085279. Retrieved 28 October 2013.

External links[edit]