Melvin Franklin Arey was born in Hampden, Maine, on January 19, 1844. He joined the 22nd Maine Infantry in 1862 in the middle of his college education. After leaving the army in 1863, he returned to school and graduated with a B. A. in 1867 and an M. A. in 1870, both from Bowdoin College. On May 16, 1869, Melvin Arey married Louise H. Smith also of Hampden, Maine.
Melvin Arey taught in Maine and New Hampshire public and private schools. In 1873, he moved to Iowa where he was Superintendent of Schools in Cedar Falls until 1877. He was then Superintendent of Schools in Fort Dodge, from 1877 to 1890.
In 1890, Professor Arey was asked to join the faculty of the Iowa State Normal School. He became a Professor of Natural Sciences, and was head of the department from 1909 until he retired in 1917. Professor Arey was an integral part of the early faculty, leaving his mark in many ways on the school. In order to get students more involved in natural sciences, Professor Arey founded the Natural History Association, an organization in which students and alumni could discuss or present findings on natural sciences.
In 1893, Dr. Arey went on an expedition to the Bahamas, where he studied natural sciences and returned with specimens and new and interesting findings for his students. In 1917, when he retired from regular teaching duties, Professor Arey was put in charge of the school’s natural history museum. He was curator from 1917 to 1928. He acquired a wide variety of information, artifacts, and specimens for the museum.
Professor Arey was also highly involved outside the college. He was a city councilman for the 4th Ward in Cedar Falls from 1897 through 1915. He also served as a trustee of the city hospital, a fellow of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science, and a life member of the Iowa Academy of Science, of which he was president in 1905. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Psi Upsilon, the Grand Army of the Republic, the Central Association of Science and Mathematics, and the Iowa Forestry and Conservation Association.
Professor Arey was a respected and valued faculty member and an active citizen in the Cedar Falls community. Two of his children, Amy and Ethel, served on the college faculty.
Professor Arey died on March 20, 1931.
Compiled by Public History Intern Emily Stohlmeyer; edited by University Archivist Gerald L. Peterson, 2012; last updated, October 27, 2015.
Melvin Franklin Arey
- Born at Hampden, Maine, January 19, l844; son of Nathaniel S. and Eliza Ann (Baker) Arey.
- Private and corporal of Co. A, 22nd Maine Infantry, 1862-3.
- A. B., 1867; A. M., 1870, Bowdoin College.
- Married Louise H. Smith of Hampden, Maine, May 16, 1869
- Taught in public and private schools in Maine and New Hampshire.
- Superintendent of Schools at Cedar Falls, Iowa, 1873-7, and at Fort Dodge, Iowa, 1877-90.
- Professor of Natural Sciences, Iowa State Normal School and Iowa State Teachers College, 1890-1917; Head of Department, 1909-1917
- Secretary of the Iowa Educational Council for twenty-five years.
- Member of the Iowa expedition to the Bahamas,
- Special assistant of the Iowa Geological Survey.
- Councilman of the Fourth Ward, Cedar Falls Iowa, 1899-1915.
- Trustee of the city hospital, 1909--.
- Member of the Iowa Academy of Science; president, 1905.
- Fellow of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science.
- Life member of the State Horticultural Society.
- Member of the Iowa Forestry and Conservation Association and of the National Forestry Association.
- Member of the Central Association of Science and Mathematics.
- Member of Phi Beta Kappa, Psi Upsilon, and Grand Army of the Republic
- Republican and Methodist.