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Whittemore Library Blog

Where Principals Matter: Henry Whittemore

by Unknown User on 2019-11-04T08:55:00-05:00 in About the Library | Comments

Henry Whittemore: Former Principal of Framngham State University



 "Live to the Truth"

     As the Henry Whittemore library celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, we look back upon our struggles, triumphs, and our successes as a university over time. However, few have made as large an impact on the university as former President/Principal Henry Whittemore. While a majority of our students may know the name, they might not know of the many influences Mr. Whittemore had on the university's campus.

     Henry Whittemore, of Hopkinton MA, was born on July 23, 1843. The seventh of twelve children, he entered Dartmouth College upon his completion of high school between 1862 and 1863. However, as the Civil war began, Whittemore left Dartmouth to enlist in the 5th Massachusetts Infantry. Serving as an orderly for the captain of Company C, Whittemore was stationed at Fort McHenry until his discharge in 1864, where he returned to Dartmouth to finish his studies. Upon graduation, he enrolled at Bowdoin Medical School in the hopes of becoming a physician. However, Whittemore was forced to withdraw from medical school due to stress related illnesses from overworking as both a student and as a teacher to pay his way through school. In 1874, he became the Principal of Westborough High school. His successes as a principal eventually led to him becoming Superintendent for the Waltham School District.

     In 1898, Whittemore started his first year as Principal of Framingham Normal School (now Framingham State University) following in the footsteps of former Principal Ellen Hyde. Under his leadership at Framingham Normal School, Principal Whittemore introduced practical classroom experience including woodworking, gardening, music, and drawing as part of the offered curriculum. This was the first time that Framingham Normal School saw a focused shift away strictly from education curriculum and led to the development of the Household Arts department and its opportunities. In 1898, the department of the Household Arts was established due to the donation of the deceased Mary Hemenway. Under Principal Whittemore's leadership and guidance, the department was expanded greatly and curriculum opportunities were extended to students of both the education and the Household Arts departments.

     As enrollment began to skyrocket in the late 1890's, the need for additional housing and classrooms became apparent. Principal Whittemore worked tirelessly to help with the opening of Wells Hall in 1892, which included labs and classrooms. In 1914, funds were secured from the Commonwealth to create two dormitories, Cyrus Pierce Hall in 1915 and Horace Mann Hall in 1917. Both buildings are still used as residence halls to this day. In 1916, Principal Whittemore became the president of the alumni association, a position he held with great fervor until his death 1931.

      Principal Whittemore was known for his dedication to both student and alumnae alike, taking intricate care and interest in reaching out and building personal connections. His motivation to know students on a person basis pushed beyond the typical role of Principal, often becoming a father figure away from home. Principal Whittemore's devotedness to the student population, their success, and the university's expansion led to the building and dedication of the campus gate in his name. Funded entirely by the graduating class of 1917, 1918, and 1919 the gate stands still to this day. The city of Waltham also dedicated Henry Whittemore elementary school in his name. Our University motto "Live to the Truth" is a testament of his ability in his time as Principal. In 1969, Henry Whittemore library was opened to the students of Framingham State University. 

     Henry Whittemore passed away on May 5th, 1931 in Hanover New Hampshire. However, we will forever remember his dedication, devotion, and legacy to the student and alumni alike as a veteran, father, and Principal of Framingham State University. 


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