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On the 12th of April of the same year the following resolution was adopted:
Resolved, That in addition to the existing requisites to entitle the Academies to their dividends of the public fund, it will be considered necessary that they keep an exact register of observations made with the thermometers and rain-gauges with which they shall be furnished, according to the instructions that may be given them by the committee appointed for that purpose, and that with their annual reports they shall give correct registers of such observations, and that the Secretary furnish each of the Academies with a copy of this resolution."
Reports commencing with January, 1826, were continued under this system, until the end of 1849, and in a few cases to 1850. They included readings of the thermometer every morning when the degree was lowest, every afternoon when it was highest, and every evening an hour after sunset. The lowest degree was supposed to occur generally between the beginning of daylight and sunrise, and the highest between two and four o'clock in the afternoon. The thermometers were generally those made by Kendall of New Lebanon, and of the Fahrenheit scale. The rain-gauge was measured not long after the rain was over, and two forms of this instrument were furnished, a conical one, invented by Simeon De Witt, and one with a cylindrical tube below a funnel-shaped receiver, and containing a float, which raised a graduated rod. A tin vessel having the same area as the rain-gauge was used for receiving the snow fall, and the contents were melted and measured.
Besides these two classes of instruments, observers were directed to record the direction of the wind, the aspect of the sky as to whether clear or cloudy, and every meteorological phenomenon that came under notice, such as unusual appearances of the sky, halos, parhelia, auroras, meteors, storms and the like, as also the first appearance of flowers and leaves, the beginning of haying and harvesting, first autumnal frosts and snows, appearance and departure of birds of passage, first notice of fire-flies, reptiles, etc.; in short, whatever might be thought to indicate the progress of the seasons, or to afford a fact worthy of scientific record.
Although in some cases these records were no doubt made in a formal way, and without particular interest in the observer, there were many instances in which they awakened attention in zealous students of the physical sciences, and secured a record of great value
for future reference and comparison. It is but due to the memory of Dr. T. Romeyn Beck, long Principal of the Albany Academy and Secretary of the Board of Regents, that we should record the exact and painstaking labors that he performed in supervising this system of observations, and in preparing the returns for publication in the annual reports of the Regents. In the earlier years, he was assisted by Joseph Henry, then a teacher in the Albany Academy, and afterward a Professor in Princeton College, and first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.1
The number of years reported by the several academies is shown by the following table, not including certain special observations taken with especial care, with the barometer and other instruments by Prof. Chester Dewey, at Rochester, Prof. James H. Coffin, at Ogdensburg, and some others, for short periods.
Academies that reported Meteorological Observations under the System established in 1825.
'In March, 1842, Dr. Charles A. Lee, of New York, addressed a letter to the Regents strongly urging the addition of Hygrometrical observations, but it was not done until the introduction of the revised and improved system in 1849.
Years in which records were kept.
1826 to 32, 5, 7, 9, 45 to 50. 1827 to 49, ex. 30, 36 to 41 1827 to 48, ex. 29, 31, 2, 4, 41. 1828 to 44, ex. 30, 3, 40.
1830 to 1846.
1829 to 49, ex. 44.
1826 to 48, ex. 36, 7, 8, 47.
1828 to 42, ex. 39, 41.
1831 to 44, ex. 83, 6, 40.
1828 to 49, ex. 30, 1, 7, 41. 1844, 6, 7, 9, 50.
1829 to 50, ex. 26, 7, 9.
1830 to 49, ex. 36.
1834 to 1840.
1826 to 44, ex. 80, 1, .
1829 to 1844.
1841, 2, 7, 8, 9.
1826 to 43, ex. 34.
1830 to 42, ex. 88.
1830, 33 to 50.
1828 to 1848.
1829, 36, 7.
1834, 5, 9, 42, 8, 7, 9, 50. 1843.
1826 to 1850.
1830 to 36, ex. 82; 1842, 8, 4. 1826 to 48, ex. 47.
1828 to 30, 38 to 47, ex. 39.
Toward the latter part of the period embraced in these years some general summaries were included, showing for particular items the results of a series of years.
In 1850, the editor of this volume, having collected the series of annual reports of the Regents containing from year to year the summary of returns, began for his own information, some generalizations. from these tables; but the work soon expanded into an idea of preparing a complete digest of the whole. The thought was suggested to Dr. T. R. Beck, then Secretary of the Regents, which led to the following proceedings:
On the 4th of April, 1851, the Secretary communicated two letters from Dr. Franklin B. Hough, then of Somerville, St. Lawrence county, in which he proposed to prepare a general summary and tabular statement of results of the meteorological observations made by Academies from 1826 to 1849, inclusive.
"The Regents agreed unanimously that the plan proposed by Dr. Hough, if executed with proper scientific care and fidelity, could not fail of proving useful and of promoting further advances in the science of meteorology, while at the same time it would prove a lasting monument of what the State of New York had already done in that matter; but the Secretary was directed to inform Dr. Hough that they had no means and anticipated none, that could be applied in aid of the above work; that they were extremely doubtful whether even their recommendation would induce the Legislature to order the publication of the above work, and at all events, no promises could be held out on this point. The Regents, however, expressed their willingness to defray any ordinary expenses that might be incurred. in the preparation of the proposed tabular statements.1
In transmitting this resolution, the Secretary defined the term "ordinary expenses" to include the cost of stationery only. With this " encouragement," and without expectation or promise of any further compensation, the task was undertaken, finished and delivered; the bill of items presented and ailowed, being about $12.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science, at its session held in Albany, 1851, at the writers' request, referred the subject to a special standing committee for consultation, consisting of Dr. T. Romeyn Beck, Prof. Arnold Guyot, and Prof. Elias Loomis.2 The writer further acknowledges very material aid in the way of advice, from the Rev. Chester Dewey, of Rochester, and from Capt. J. H. Lefroy, then director of the magnetic and meteorological observatory at Toronto, with both of whom he had much correspondence.
A small appropriation was made in 1852, upon the representation of Dr. Beck, toward the payment of the two years of labor which this enterprise had required; the Legislature provided for its publication in 1854, and it was issued early in 1855, in a quarto volume of 500 pages, with several plates of graphic illustrations and a map.
During the quarter of a century that these records had been kept, upon a plan devised in 1825, great advancement had been made in
Minutes of the Regents, V,
Proceedings of A. A. A. S. 1851, pp 168-397. Regents' report of 1852, pp 23 and 244-248. Report of 1853, P. 14.
the physical sciences, and the system had fallen behind, in meeting the requirements of the day. The Regents in their report of 1847, in alluding to this subject, said:
"It would doubtless promote the cause of meteorological science and its practical applications, could the present system be so far modified as to diminish the number of stations and at the same time afford a greater variety of instruments to observers in well-selected stations. The Regents continue to entertain the hope, that at some future period this proposal will meet the favorable consideration of the Legislature, so far at least as to enable them to make a partial trial of its effects."
In 1848, alluding to this subject they again remarked :
"On this subject, the Regents hope, before the conclusion of the session, to present the outlines of a plan better calculated than the one now adopted, to elucidate the great phenomena of meteorology, and which are attracting the attention of scientific men in every part of the civilized world."
To give further weight to their recommendations, the Regents, in their report of 1849, published a translation of the official instructions prepared by Dr. Mahlmann, of Berlin, for making meteorological observations throughout the kingdom of Prussia. They again urged the importance of a revision of the system, and alluded to the measure then being undertaken under the Smithsonian Institution for reporting simultaneous meteorological observations throughout the United States, as an indication of the growth of knowledge upon this subject.
In 1849,' the Legislature, in compliance with the above repeated requests, granted money for the purchase of improved meteorological instruments, and the Regents employed Prof. Arnold Guyot, then of Cambridge, Mass., to visit the stations to be selected, and instruct observers in their management.
The instruments for each station consisted of a barometer, thermometer, rain and snow-gauges, and a wind-gauge or vane, and in several of them a psychrometer. The barometers, made by James Green, in New York, were carefully compared with a standard instrument by Newman of London. Thermometers by the same maker
Chap. 301, Laws of 1849, appropriated $1,500 a year for two years, for this object from the income of the United States Deposit Fund. Other small appropriations were afterward made for the purchase of instruments and a trifling salary to observer.