Early Diary of John Adams, volume 1


The “Course” or series of lectures on Experimental Philosophy was required by the terms of the Hollis professorship to be given at least once a year. Designated “private lectures,” they were intended only for the sophisters (Endowment Funds of Harvard University, Cambridge, 1948, p. 55–56; Morison, Three Centuries of Harvard , p. 80). The terminal dates of a course of lectures such as this did not coincide with term times but rather with the period between March and the end of June when senior sophisters were required to be in Cambridge; see note on entry of 29 June 1753.

The notes taken by JA on the lectures indicate that the course as begun in 1754 was to be essentially the same62 as the thirty-three lectures prepared by Professor Winthrop for delivery one to five times a week (ordinarily three), from 10 March to 16 June 1746, a lecture-by-lecture summary of which in Winthrop’s hand, with additions for 1747, is preserved in MH-Ar: “The Summary of a Course Of Experimental Philosophical Lectures, by Mr. J. Winthrop.” A facsimile of Winthrop’s outline of the first lecture is reproduced as an illustration in the present volume.