The Faculty History Project documents faculty members who have been associated with the University of Michigan since 1837. Key in this effort is to celebrate the intellectual life of the University. This Faculty History Website is intended as a component of the effort to document the extraordinary academic achievements of Michigan’s faculty in building and sustaining one of the world’s great universities. It provides access to a comprehensive database of information concerning the thousands of faculty members who have served the University of Michigan.
Find out more.

The Bentley Historical Library serves as the official archives for the University.


Andrew Ten Brook
The Michigan Alumnus 155

Professor Ten Brook (of whose death brief mention was made in the last number of the Alumnus) was the last surviving member of what may be regarded as the original Faculty of the University of Michigan. The valuable service, which he rendered to the cause of education and religion makes it eminently proper that, a somewhat extended notice of his life and services should appear in the MICHIGAN ALUMNUS.

Andrew Ten Brook was born in Elmira, N. Y. September 21, 1814. As his name indicates, he was of Dutch ancestry. He has said that his father continued to speak the Dutch language, more or less, during his life. His grandfather was reduced from competence to poverty by the depreciation of Continental money. The young man's desire for a liberal education enabled him to surmount the obstacles which poverty placed in his way, so that after six, years of study, at what was then known as the Hamilton Literary and Theological Institution, he graduated from the Collegiate Department in 1839; and two years after, from the Theological Department. In October following his graduation he was ordained, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Detroit. He occupied this position three years, during which time he also edited the Michigan Christian Herald, the organ of the Baptist denomination in Michigan.

In September 1844, he was appointed to the chair of Moral and Intellectual Philosophy in the University of Michigan. The other members of the Faculty at this time were Professors Houghton, Williams, Whiting and Sager. He was at this time just thirty years old, and the first graduating class in the University came under his instruction. He occupied this chair seven years to the satisfaction of the Regents and the students. These years were years of struggle, even of conflict, in the history of the University.

In 1851, he resigned his chair and soon after became the editor of the New York Baptist Register, published at Utica, N. Y. In consequence of the union of this paper with the New York Recorder, he left this position, and in 1816, was appointed U. S. consul at Munich in Bavaria. Here he resided with his family till the end of the year 1862, rendering acceptable and important service, and at the same time mastering the German language and making himself familiar with German literature.

In 1864 he was made librarian of the University, which position he occupied till 1877. During his residence in Ann Arbor Professor Ten Brook rendered much acceptable service to the various churches as a pulpit supply, and several times served the Baptist church as acting-pastor for months in succession, almost without compensation. Since I877 he has occupied no public position except as a temporary pastor, but has given himself chiefly to literary work. He has published an octavo volume entitled State Universities and the University of Michigan, which the North American Review pronounced "a substantial contribution to the history of higher education in America." He has translated for a New York publishing house, History of the Thirty Years' War, and has written numerous articles on a great variety of subjects, for many public journals and newspapers. It is said that he had completed, just before his death, the MSS. of a work, which has been pronounced by those who have examined it, one of great value. It is to be hoped that his death will not prevent its publication.

Professor Ten Brook was twice married. Two sons died just before reaching mature manhood. His only daughter is the wife of A. E. Mudge, a successful lawyer living in Brooklyn, N. Y., an alumnus of the University of Michigan of 1866.

Until within a year past, Professor Ten Brook retained, to an unusual degree, both his physical and mental vigor; but during the last year of his life he suffered from illness and the infirmities of age. He had just completed arrangements for making his home at a sanitarium in Detroit, and had scarce entered it, when, perhaps in consequence of over-exertion in removing, his strength failed and he passed away.

Professor Ten Brook was a man of wide and varied learning. His knowledge, on a great variety of subjects was remarkably accurate. As a writer his style was distinguished for clearness, chasteness and simplicity. He could not write a slovenly or extravagant or obscure sentence. He was eminently fair-minded, - little swayed by prejudice, - just and discreet in his judgments of men and things. His convictions on moral and religious and political subjects were the result of careful study and independent thinking, and were therefore held firmly, but without bigotry or censoriousness towards those who differed from him.

While thoroughly loyal to the denomination to which all his life he belonged, he had the largest charity towards Christians of other faiths. In recent years he was much interested in humanitarian work; he was instrumental in the organization of the Humane Society, and he did much to promote the spirit of kindness to animals in the children of the public schools, being chairman of the educational committee of the Society. All who have been on intimate terms with him have remarked, during his last years, a manifest ripening of the Christian graces of patient cheerfulness under trial and disappointment, of kindly charity towards others, and of unquestioning faith and hope in reference to the future life.