Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History

Sauer, Anne

Branco, Jessica

Bennett, John

Crowley, Zachary


Whittemore, Thomas, 1800-1861


Thomas Whittemore (1800-1868) was a distinguished Universalist minister instrumental in the founding of Tufts College. He was also the first person to receive an honorary degree at Tufts.

Whittemore, born on January 1, 1800, in Boston, was remembered as a mischievous youth, bouncing between a number of apprenticeships before settling in as apprentice to Abel Baker, a boot-maker in Boston. In 1820, the last year of his apprenticeship, Whittemore began to gain interest in the Universalist faith, under the guidance of Hosea Ballou, Sr. Ballou had been renting a room from Baker, and began to aid Whittmore in furthering his education. Ballou convinced Whittemore to become a member of the Universalist clergy, and within a year, Whittmore had been confirmed as a reverend. During the next twenty years, Whittemore became an active and distinguished member of the Universalist community, working first as a joint editor of "Universalist" magazine, and then as sole editor of the magazine's successor, "The Trumpet." Whittemore also published a much-acclaimed book, "A Modern History of Universalism". He was elected to the State Legislature in Massachusetts, representing Cambridge, and served as a selectman and as alderman in Cambridge.

In the early 1850s, Whittemore became involved in the founding of Tufts College, serving as Vice President of the Board of Trustees. He worked to raise funds necessary to build the college, and attended the laying of the first cornerstone. Whittemore also spoke on opening day at Tufts, introducing the College's first president, Hosea Ballou. Whittemore was featured as a speaker at the first and second commencement exercises at Tufts, in 1857 and 1858 respectively. He was presented with an honorary Doctor of Divinity at commencement in 1858.

In September, 1921, prior to his work with Tufts, Whittemore had married Lovice Corbett and over the next seventeen years, they had eight children.

Whittemore died, of natural causes, at his home on March 21, 1861.

Source: MTW, VF

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Donald A. Cowdery Memorial Scholarship, 1946
Dr. Benjamin Andrews Professorship of Surgery, 1987
Dr. Philip E. A. Sheridan Prize, 1977
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