Notable Alums

Sign Up For Our Email List (Hebdo)

© 2019: Philomathean Society | Created By:Abhinav Suri

Philo's Notable Alumni

Over the years, we’ve seen many Philos gain some kind of noteworthiness or another. The Society’s senior membership includes twenty-six state senators, seven U.S. representatives, three U.S. senators, two ambassadors, a U.S. Attorney General, and one member of the House of Lords, as well as numerous professors, authors, academics, and University officers.

According to some vaguely-defined criteria of notoriety, ranks of prominent Philos (with appropriate links to Wikipedia) include:

Henry Dilworth Gilpin, 1819
U.S. Attorney General under President Martin van Buren from 1840-41. Most notably argued for the Federal Government in The Armistad case.

Robert James Walker, 1819
U.S. Senator from Missouri, Secretary of Treasury, Governor of Kansas and debating nemesis of Henry Clay.

John Cadwalader, 1821
U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania 1855 to 1857, U.S. Judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania 1858-1879

George Sharswood, 1828
Founder, University of Pennsylvania School of Law and Chief Justice of Pennsylvania.

George Augustus Bicknell Jr., 1831
U.S. Representative from Indiana 1877-1881.

Henry Morton, 1859
162nd Moderator, member of the Committee to Translate the Rosetta Stone, and founding President of the Stevens Institute 1870-1902.

Persifor Frazer, 1862
Professor of Chemistry and Pioneering Chemist/Geologist/Naturalist. Commended by the Union for heroic work surveying the Charleston harbor under severe Confederate fire. Best known for his work on the forensic examination of handwriting, he became the leading expert witness in contract forgery cases on both sides of the Atlantic until his career was cut short by his militant atheism, which prevented him from testifying under oath under then-extant evidence rules. Largely as a result of his passionate campaigning, the Pennsylvania Legislature removed all disabilities in court that attached to atheists; the bill was signed on the day he died.

William Pepper, 1862
University Provost 1881-1894.

Charles Custis Harrison, 1862
176th Moderator, University Provost 1894-1910.

Robert Adams Jr., 1869
196th Moderator, Pennsylvania State Senator 1883-86, U.S. Minister to Brazil 1889-90, U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania 1893.

Henry Galbraith Ward, 1870
199th Moderator, Judge of U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit 1907-1933.

Henry Laussat Geyelin, 1877
The first to wear red and blue as the University colors, President of the Penn Athletic Association.

W. Atlee Burpee, 1878
The founder of the W. Atlee Burpee Company, now known as Burpee Seeds.

Eli K. Price, 1881
Founder, Philadelphia Museum of Art.

George Wharton Pepper, 1887
U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, author and chronicler of the Senate.

Jasper Yeates Brinton, 1889
U.S. Ambassador to Egypt, architect of the Egyptian court system and Justice of the Egyptian Supreme Court

Josiah Harmar Penniman, 1890
Professor of English and University Provost 1921-39.

Thomas Ellis Robins, 1st and last Baron Robins, 1904
Member of Parliament (United Kingdom) between 1909 and 1914. Commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, Rhodesia Regiment between 1940 and 1943. Created 1st Baron Roberts of Rhodesia and Chelsea [U.K.] on 10 July 1958.

Robert Earnest Spiller, 1917
Professor of English at Penn from 1945 to 1967; credited with helping to earn scholarly respect for American literature as the co-founder of the journal American Literature and chair of the Modern Language Association‘s American Literature Group. He also chaired Penn’s American Civilization Department, itself a brainchild of the Society.

Alfred Bester, 1934
Recipient of the First Hugo Award for a Science Fiction Novel: The Demolished Man (1953), Science Fiction Grand Master (1988), and author of The Stars My Destination (1956).

Carl Kaysen, 1940
Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies and University Trustee.

Hilary Putnam, 1948
Philosopher, Walter Beverly Pearson Professor of Modern Mathematics and Mathematical Logic at Harvard University, and past president of the American Philosophical Association. Professor Putnam was also responsible for carrying on the Society during the Dark Age of Philomathea.

Stephen Stich, 1964
Philosopher, Board of Governors Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University; Honorary Professor at the University of Sheffield. Recipient of the Jean Nicod Prize.