Board of Managers
After earning his honorary degree from Haverford in 1858, Hugh Vail became a member of the Board of Managers that following year. He served as a Manager of the Corporation from 1859 until 1882, acting as part of the Committee on Instruction, Committee on Library and Apparatus, Committee of Property, Committee on Farm, Committee on House and Grounds, and Executive Committee all at various points during his time on the board. Since this period followed very closely behind the reopening of the college, it was a time of change and advancement. Vail helped contribute to several improvements and important decisions around campus.
Vail served on the Committee on Library and Apparatus from 1859 until 1871 (excluding the school year 1868-1869), overseeing the general equipment of the college and also helping to develop libraries and study spaces. On March 3, 1863, the Minutes of the Board of Managers included a plan for a more useful study space that would be more conducive towards focused academic work. The photo to the right shows the library following a relocation of books from the old library to Alumni Hall, which is now Magill Library. The books were moved between June and August of 1864, and were rearranged according to subject, making it easier for students to access books necessary for classes (History of Haverford 617).
As a member of the Committee on Library and Apparatus, Vail also used this opportunity to work once again towards improving the quality and range of equipment for the observatory. In July of 1861, the committee included a minute regarding the need to address the status of the instruments of the observatory, and later decided to make improvements. Vail's work for the Library and Apparatus Committee often intersected idealogically with that of the Committee of Instruction. Vail served longest on the Committees on Instruction and Library and Apparatus, which both worked towards facilitating the most comprehensive education possible. As a member of the Committee on Instruction, Vail was instrumental in developing the curriculum and structuring classes for each year.
During his time on the Board of Managers, Vail was able to devote more time to his diverse set of interests, including his interest in Quaker genealogy. Using the original records of the Shrewsbury Monthly Meeting of Friends, Vail compiled an extensive volume of marriages, births, and deaths that detailed several different lineages. The marriages range from the year 1674 to 1853, the births from 1641 to 1869, and the deaths from 1666 to 1876. Vail created this "abstract" as a hand-written leatherbound book that includes a brief history of Shrewsbury Monthly Meeting.
Vail received his own honorary degree in 1858, but was also a part of the awarding of honorary degrees to other prominent figures at Haverford College. On July 10, 1860, poet John Greenleaf Whittier was awarded an honorary degree, and on July 9, 1867, Joseph Moore, whose genealogy Vail later investigated in an article for a Santa Barbara newspaper, was also awarded a degree, as indicated in the Minutes of the Board of Managers. Vail eventually left the Board of Managers in 1882, when he and his family moved to Santa Barbara.
Haverford College Alumni Association. A History of Haverford College for the First Sixty Years of its Existence. Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 1892.
Minutes of the Board of Managers, 1857-1883.