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Fredrik Wilhelm Pipping

Born December 14, 1783, Turku. Died January 23, 1868, Helsinki.

Master of Philosophy, Royal Academy of Turku, 1804; Undergraduate, University of Uppsala, 1806-1807.

Amanuensis, Royal Academy of Turku Library, 1811-
University Librarian, 1814-1845
Professor, History of Science, 1814-1837

Dean, School of Philosophy, 1816-1817, 1824-1825, 1832-1833
University Rector, 1823-1824, 1833-1839

Member, Senate Economic Affairs Committee, 1841-1855
Chairman, Ecclesiastical Affairs Committee, 1841-1853

Photo: Finnish National Board of Antiquities
Written by Tero Juutilainen
Translated by John Calton

The Ennobled Librarian

Fredrik Pipping’s father, Jost Pipping, valued education and had himself studied at the Royal Academy of Turku. His father invested in Fredrik’s education and arranged tutors for him from an early age. At the tender age of sixteen he was admitted to study at his father’s alma mater, where he took a special interest in Latin, Greek, history and philosophy.

In 1804 he completed his kandidaati studies and in the following year graduated as Master of Philosophy. It wasn’t long before he was to return to the Academy however; he completed a thesis granting him the title docent and the career in research was well under way. After a couple of years he had written a doctoral thesis, based on Homer’s writing. This work confirmed his appointment as docent in Greek literature, which he was now officially certified to teach.

A calling card version of Fredrik Wilhelm Pipping's picture by Carl Linden.​
A calling card version of Fredrik Wilhelm Pipping's picture by Carl Linden.​

A career among literature and books began to appeal more than teaching and in 1814 he was appointed as Academy Librarian and professor of the History of Science. He had taken care of both positions earlier and had managed them so well that a separate proof of his teaching ability was deemed unnecessary. Of the two, Pipping considered the librarianship the more important. He didn’t let the work among books impede his teaching, but rather supervised and conscientiously guided both novice researchers and freshmen. It wasn’t until 1837 that he asked for leave from his teaching duties so that he could concentrate fully on library affairs.

In the 1840s Fredrik Pipping got to know administration from the national perspective, even being appointed a member of the Senate’s economic affairs committee. His university background was to be of use to him as head of the ecclesiastical affairs committee, which assumed responsibility for educational matters at the beginning of the decade. He had no great impact on the day’s politics however; many viewed him more as a somewhat pettifogging civil servant who “lacked the ability to understand the broader issues.”

Pipping’s work among books was appreciated however, and recognised in several decorations. Fredrik Wilhelm Pipping was ennobled in 1839 and his coat of arms can be found in the House of Nobility. Moreover, he was invited to join various learned societies, both at home and abroad. He was granted the title valtioneuvos (counsellor of state) in 1845.


Sources (in Finnish and Swedish):


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