Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,159 pages of information and 233,681 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Heinrich Oscar Hofman

From Graces Guide

Jump to: navigation, search

Professor Heinrich Oscar Hofman (1852-1924)

1924 Obituary [1]

HEINRICH OSCAR HOFMAN, E.M., Met.E., Ph.D., died on April 28, 1924, at the age of seventy-one years.

In the death of Professor Hofman, who was born on August 13, 1852, the world has lost a great metallurgist and a great author of metallurgical literature. It is not surprising that Dr. Hofman became a great scholar, for his father, Karl Hofman, was on the faculty of Heidelberg University, and his early days were spent in these surroundings.

He studied in the University under such men as Kirchoff and Bunsen, and often spoke of the intimate relations he had with them. Following his course at Heidelberg, he studied at the Clausthal Mining Academy, where he graduated with honours, receiving the degrees of Mining Engineer and Metallurgical Engineer in 1877.

After four years of practical work in Germany, Professor Hofman went to the United States, and during the next four years was employed for brief periods successively by the Mine La Motte Co.; the Argentine Lead Works, Kansas; the Delaware Lead Works, Philadelphia; the Grand View Mining and Smelting Co., Rico,.Colo.; and the Carmen Mining Co., Mexico.

In 1885 Professor Hofman was invited by Professor R. H. Richards, head of the Department of Mining Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to give a course of lectures on lead smelting, and later during a brief, period he "substituted" in teaching both mining and metallurgy. He remained at the Institute for two years as private assistant to Professor Richards, leaving in 1887 to become Professor of Metallurgy and Assaying at the South Dakota School of Mines.

In 1889 he returned to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as Assistant Professor of Mining Engineering and Metallurgy, and served successively as Associate Professor and Professor of Metallurgy. On the retirement of Professor Richards in 1915 he became head of the Department of Mining and Metallurgy. In 1922, having reached the age of seventy, he was automatically retired with the title Professor Emeritus.

In 1889 Professor Hofman received the degree Ph.D. from Ohio University, and in 1921 the American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers made him an Honorary Member.

Throughout the world Hofman's treatises on metallurgy will be found on the shelves of technical libraries, both public and private. His first book, "Metallurgy of Lead," published in 1892, at once became a standard work. It ran through several editions and was completely re-written in 1918. His "General Metallurgy," published in 1913, is a monumental work, which has been translated into several foreign languages. "The Metallurgy of Copper" followed in 1914, and "The Metallurgy of Zinc and Cadmium" in 1921. It had been his ambition to complete the series by a volume on "Minor Metals," another on "Gold and Silver," and possibly a volume on "Iron and Steel." It is a great misfortune to the metallurgical profession that this ambition was not realized. A reader of any of the Hofman books is at once struck by the profuse bibliography. Authorities are given for every statement, and each subject is viewed from all angles. For many years his desk was in the departmental library, and he was familiar with every book on its shelves. All the world's leading publications on mining and metallurgy passed through his hands, and important articles were noted and catalogued. He had a remarkable memory for published facts, and times without number the inquiring student was given a reference where he could find an answer to some question.

Although Professor Hofman had a host of friends and acquaintances and was known by reputation to a still larger group, it is doubtful if a large number knew him as a man apart from the metallurgist. This was true even with most of the students in his classes, all of whom respected him, but only a small number sought his friendship. To this inner circle there was revealed a kindly nature and a sympathetic spirit. Here was a man who had at instant command a wonderful store of knowledge, yet a remarkable simplicity of manner which removed all embarrassment and allowed free interchange of ideas on a plane of equality and comradeship.

Professor Hofman was married in 1883 to Josephine Loughead of Philadelphia, who died after a few years, and in 1902 to Fannie E. Howell of Boston, who with a son and daughter survives him. The son is now a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Professor Hofmann was an Original Member of the Institute of Metals.

See Also


Sources of Information