Sanborn Tenney was born in Stoddard, N.H., January 13, 1827 and at the time of his death was in the 51st year of his age. He was graduated from Amherst in 1853. As an undergraduate he manifested an absorbing interest in Natural History, his college room being early turned into a museum of collections in the various fields of the subject. His holidays and leisure hours were spent in fields and in the study of scientific collections. At the opening of Vassar College in 1865, he was elected Professor of Natural History and was called from this work to succeed President Chadbourne as Professor of Natural History at Williams in 1868. He had, in the meantime, published text books on Geology and Natural History, widely used in the schools and colleges. [Tenney's wife, Abby Amy (Gove) Tenney, worked with her husband on a number of these volumes.]
In the comparatively short service at Williams Professor Tenney endeared himself alike to faculty and students, summed up in one sentence from President Chadbourne's memorial address: "He was a Christian man, true, kind, faithful, courteous in all the relations of life. Well will it be for the college if a man shall be found worthy to fill his place; well for the students to have such an instructor and model of true manhood; well for the faculty to have so safe an advisor, so kind and genial a member in all the responsibilities of college administration."
Professor Tenney died suddenly at the home of his sister in Michigan July 9, 1877, just as he was about to take charge, at Chicago, of the Williams College Rocky Mountain Expedition.
Chadbourne, Paul A. Discourse commemorative of the late Professor Sandborn Tenney of WilliamsCollege. (1877)
["Sad termination of the Williams Rocky Mountain Expedition"] in Williams Athenaeum. ( 22 September 1877)
"Professor Tenney" in Williams Alumni Review. (December 1922)