Letters from a New Campus by Daniel Bliss
|A photo of Daniel Bliss on the "New
To many AUBites, Daniel Bliss remains a vague character of the past.
Knowledge of him is generally confined to the fact that he was a founder
and the first president of the Syrian Protestant College (1866-1902),
whose statue in marble can be seen on campus. Now, however, one particular
publication prepared by AUB will give that vague image some real body.
A collection of daily "intimate" letters written by Daniel Bliss
from Beirut to his wife and family during their visit to Amherst, Massachusetts,
in 1873-74 have been compiled by Douglas and Belle Dorman Rugh and Alfred
Howell, who found them in the university archives in 1994. The letters,
which were written daily but mailed weekly, recount stories of the first
president's daily business with faculty, students, and local citizens,
and even record meetings with officials of the Ottoman Empire with which
the Protestant missionaries were in frequent contact.
The letters had been initially discovered by Bliss's great-granddaughter
in 1955 in the old Dorman house on Bliss Street, just before the building
was being cleared for destruction. The Dorman house had once been occupied
by the Bliss family, and the letters and other papers had lain hidden
away in its attic for decades.