James Mills Peirce '53, Perkins Professor of Astronomy and Mathematics, died of pneumonia at his home on Kirkland place, after an illness of less than a week.
Professor Peirce was the son of Benjamin Peirce '21, who was also Perkins Professor, and a famous mathematician. He was born in Cambridge, May 1, 1834, twelve days after the birth of President Eliot, and graduated from Harvard College in 1853, in the same class with the President, taking his degree of Master of Arts in 1856. At this time he intended to become a Unitarian clergyman and six years after taking his degree of A. B., graduated from the Divinity School, which at that time gave no degree. Professor Peirce did not follow this plan, however, but spent his life in the study of mathematics.
He was a tutor in the University from 1854 to 1858, and during the first term of the year 1860-61. In 1861 he was appointed assistant professor of Mathematics, and in 1869 became a full professor. In 1885 he was appointed Perkins Professor of Mathematics, which position he held until his death. He resigned from the Perkins Professorship last week, but his resignation was accepted for March 1, 1907, in order that he should have remained in the service of the University for a period of fifty years.
Between 1872 and 1890 Professor Peirce was secretary of the Academic Council and in 1890 was made Dean of the Graduate School. In 1895 he was made Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, from which office he resigned in 1898.
Professor Peirce was a Fellow of the American Academy and was well known as an author of books on mathematical subjects, among which the following are the most important: "Text Book of Analytic Geometry,"Three and Four Place Tables," "Elements of Logarithms," "Mathematical Tables Chiefly to Four Figures."