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The 2019 fall Archives Speaker Series will take place on Friday, September 13 at 4:00 p.m. in the Andrew L. Bouwhuis Library on the first floor. Stephen J. Vermette, PhD, professor of geology at Buffalo State College, will be the guest speaker.

Vermette will explore what it was like on the eve of Canisius’ founding by revisiting a Buffalo celebration on September 14,1869 unlike any other, for a man unlike any other. Millard Fillmore was the keynote speaker at the main event described as taking “no secondary place in the history of great celebrations.” Alexander von Humboldt, a German scientist, born September 14, 1769, may have more things named in his honor around the world than anyone else has. Humboldt formed “the hidden foundation of many of our natural sciences.” Among his accomplishments were linking altitude sickness with the thin air at high altitudes, recognizing “Continental Drift” that Africa and North America were once joined and recognition of a delicate connection between human activity and nature. He was a pioneer of data visualization and spoke out on the contradiction of the existence of the evils of slavery in a democracy.

As Humboldt’s centenary approached, Buffalo’s German Jesuits were organizing the founding of Canisius College. German immigrants made up almost half the city’s population at the time and were the chief organizers of the Humboldt Centenary event. The young sons of those immigrants would become the earliest students at Canisius College when it opened in 1870.

Humboldt and his work continue to fascinate scientists into the 21st century. As a special feature at this presentation, President Millard Fillmore’s actual lap desk (a gift to Canisius from Thomas C. Mack, Class of 1961) will be on display.

For more information, contact Kathleen DeLaney, archivist and special collections librarian, at Ext. 8421 or at

The event is free and open to the public.

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Submitted by: Kathleen DeLaney, archivist and special collections, Library