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Lehigh University Plan by Henry Coppee

Identifier: SC MS 0332

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of a handwritten manuscript which appears to be not only a working draft of the rough plan given to him by Bishop Stevens but also a personal diary of his early years as president of Lehigh University. This manuscript is the first version of a Lehigh University plan which later appeared as "The Register."


  • Creation: 1865-1876


Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

Access Restrictions: Collection housed remotely. Users need to contact 24 hours in advance.

Use Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Copyright Notice

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Biographical / Historical

Asa Packer approached the Bishop of Philadelphia William Bacon Stevens with an idea of creating a university – not only a technical school but also arts as an extension of industry. A rough plan of the organization of Lehigh was made by Packer, Bishop Stevens and the Board of Trustees in July 27, 1865. Henry Coppée was appointed Lehigh University's first president (1866-1875) by Asa Packer on November 4, 1865. Bishop Stevens asked Professor Theodore Russell Jencks of Harvard University to determine a workable plan for the establishment of Lehigh. Jencks was a professor of Political Literature, English Language and Literature, Ancient Languages and Literature. He was apparently well versed in the task that Bishop Stevens asked of him. His plan was to apply scientific teaching to purposes of common everyday industry with improvement of the useful arts as extension of industry. From Jencks' plan, Stevens drew up an outline sketch of an institution as he thought would give greatest result for the means used and submitted it for Packer's inspection. This plan was given to Coppée to transform this rough outline into the institution's organization of laws, course of studies, and buildings needed. The refinement of this plan would become a monument of Coppée administrative skill and educational sagacity. Coppée was born in Savannah, Georgia and studied civil engineering at Yale University. He worked for the Georgia Central Railroad. He entered the U.S. Military Academy in 1841 and was commissioned a 2nd Lt. in the 2nd Artillery in 1845. As a Captain he served under Gen. Winfield Scott in the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) returned to West Point as professor of English from 1850-1855. He resigned from the Army and became professor of English History and Literature at University of Pennsylvania from 1855-1866. With the advent of the American Civil War, knowing his obligations to the Union, in 1861 he stayed at UPenn. When Gen. Robert E. Lee threatened Pennsylvania, Coppée gave his services to the governor of Pennsylvania who appointed him his aide. Later in the war he served Gen. D. N. Couch as aide-de-camp and military secretary at Gettysburg. Lehigh University opened for classes September 1, 1866 with 37 students in the freshman class and four in the sophomore class and graduated its first class in June 1869. When Coppée resigned the presidency in 1875, he continued at Lehigh as professor emeritus teaching English History and Literature and served twice as president pro tem.


0.5 Linear Feet (1 Volume in box, 0.5 Linear Feet)


This manuscript incorporates Lehigh University's first president Henry Coppee's ideas for a plan as well as a diary of his early years at Lehigh University. Before coming to Lehigh Coppee had a distinguished career in the U.S. Army and at University of Pennsylvania. With suggestions from Bishop William Stevens, Lehigh's first president of the Board of Trustees and T. R. Jencks, a scholar from Harvard University, Coppée formulated the student course of study, the laws of governance and a building plan for the new university founded by Asa Packer.


The entries are arranged in chronological order.

Acquisition Information

Manuscript was donated to Lehigh President's Office on January 4, 2005 by Richard Flint Young BA'51 whose father had acquired it. Mr. Young worked for the Underwriter Firemans Fund Insurance at 116 John St. N.Y.C.

Related Materials

1865. Jencks, Theodore Russell. "Report upon the Organization, Course of Studies, Appliances and Buildings of the Lehigh University," presented to Bishop William Bacon Stevens, Chairman of the Trustees. October 1865. Handwritten. --

1866. "Register of The Officers and Students of the Lehigh University, South Bethlehem, Penn. With The Plan of Organization, the course of Instruction and the Laws and Regulations for its Government." Published by order of the Board of Trustees. (after September 1, 1866) --

1869. Stevens, William Bacon. "The Lehigh University, its Origins and Aims: An Historical Discourse." Philadelphia: A. C. Bryson & Co. --

1895. Hyde, Edmund. "The Lehigh University, a Historical Sketch."

Lehigh University Plan by Henry CoppeeSC MS 0332
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Eleanor Nothelfer.
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Lehigh University Library and Technology Services.

Repository Details

Part of the Lehigh University Special Collections Repository

Lehigh University
Linderman Library
30 Library Drive
Bethlehem PA 18045 USA
610-758-6091 (Fax)