FRANK SCHLESINGER - The National Academies Press

FRANK SCHLESINGER - The National Academies Press




Frank Schlesinger was born in New York City on May n,

1871. His father, William Joseph Schlesinger (1836-1880), and

his mother, Mary Wagner Schlesinger (1832-1892), both

natives of the German province of Silesia, had emigrated to the

United States. In Silesia they had lived in neighboring villages,

but they did not know each other until they met in New

York, in 1855, at the home of Mary's cousin. They were married

in 1857 and had seven children, all of whom grew to

maturity. Frank was the youngest and, after 1939, the last


His father's death, in 1880, although it brought hardships to

the family, was not permitted to interfere with Frank's education.

He attended public school in New York City, and

eventually entered the College of the City of New York, receiving

the degree of Bachelor of Science in 1890. His aptitude for

mathematical science, already evident in grammar school, became

more marked in the higher stages of his education when

he began to show a preference for applied mathematics.

Upon completing his undergraduate work it was not possible

for him to continue with graduate studies. He had to support

himself, and his health at that time made it desirable for him to

engage in outdoor activities. These circumstances caused him to

enter the employ of the Title Guarantee and Trust Company

of New York as surveyor. In this capacity he was active during

two years (1890-1892). Then followed four more years as

surveyor for the Department of Street Improvements of New

York City (1892-1896).

Some years earlier he had begun to look forward to an

astronomical career, and in 1894 he entered Columbia University

as a special student in the department of astronomy to the extent

that his full-time occupation as surveyor would permit him. For

two years this arrangement was continued. By that time he had

shown sufficient ability and further promise in his chosen field to

be awarded a University Fellowship that enabled him to enter

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