Harold Hamilton Longsdorff (1858-1944)

Harold H. Longsdorff was born in Bellevue, Nebraska on July 28, 1858. He was the eldest child and only son of William H. Longsdorff, Dickinson class of 1856, and Lydia R. Haverstick Longsdorff. When Harold Longsdorff was still a babe in arms, the family moved back to Cumberland County, where his father opened a long-standing medical practice. He prepared for his undergraduate years at the Newville Academy and entered Dickinson College with the class of 1879. While at the College, Longsdorff was a member of Chi Phi fraternity and, like his father, was elected to the Belles Lettres Society. He graduated with his class in the early summer of 1879 and entered the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Baltimore. He earned his medical degree in 1882.

Longsdorff joined his father's medical practice in Carlisle and remained a family doctor in the town almost to the end of his life. He was also elected to the Cumberland County School Directors Association. Longsdorff then became the association's president and a very active voice for the reform of public schools in Pennsylvania. In 1900, the state secretary of agriculture asked Longsdorff to carry out a study of rural education. He agreed and embarked on a four-month study in Pennsylvania and neighboring states, producing a 127-page study entitled The Consolidation of Country Schools and Transportation of Scholars by Use of Vans later that year. Though the proposals were later carried through on a state-wide basis, the immediate effect of Longsdorff's work locally was his defeat and removal from the School Board in the next election. He was later elected again, however. Longsdorff also served as director in the Farmers Trust Bank Company and as elder of the Second Presbyterian Church in Carlisle. During the First World War, he was vice-president of the local draft board and district chair of Liberty Bond drives. He was also president of the Cumberland County Medical Society in 1896 and 1937.

In February 1885, Longsdorff married A. Eleanor Ernst of nearby Walnut Bottom. The couple had two children, including a son who also became a doctor and a daughter who studied nursing. His four sisters, the most notable of which was Zatae, were pioneer female students at the previously all-male Dickinson during the 1880's. Two of his sisters became physicians and one a dentist. Harold Hamilton Longsdorff died in Carlisle on April 28, 1944. He was eighty-five years old.

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Dickinson College Archives
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