In the tributes to Mr. Coolidge which will be paid by Harvard University to a graduate's distinguished work as a great organizer in the business world, to his statesmanship, to his interest in the University as an overseer and as a generous giver, due mention will doubtless be made of his gift of the Jefferson Physical Laboratory. This gift did more than testify to his love for the University it testified to an abiding respect and admiration for the interest of his great ancestor, President Jefferson, in university education: it is one of the most hopeful things in this world that a descendant strives to perfect the work of his forbears. President Jefferson's love for the University of Virginia, may be said to have been instrumental in the establishment of the Jefferson Physical Laboratory.
Forty years ago the only physical laboratory in Harvard University was in a small upper room in Harvard Hall; there were absolutely no facilities, and I formed a committee, consisting of Francis Blake, of transmitter fame, Percival Lowell, the astronomer, and myself, to raise a fund for a laboratory. I wished to add Mr. Alexander Agassiz to this committee but he plead his absorbing interest in the Museum of Comparative Zoology. After a time, a beginning having been made, Mr. Agassiz joined us and represented the need of a laboratory to Mr. Coolidge I shall never forget the joyous note in which Mr. Agassiz told me that Mr. Coolidge had agreed to give a building with mechanical equipment on condition that $75,000 should be raised as an endowment fund.
The laboratory was the first in America to make physical research its predominant aim. The work of a great grandson has made possible a realization of the liberal university view of President Jefferson, who was the first in America to see the importance of the prosecution of science. In my last interview with Mr. Coolidge he expressed the hope that the laboratory would not be given over to mere elementary teaching, and he said, "If you succeed in turning out a Michael Faraday I shall be well satisfied."