Biography of Louis J. R. Agassiz
Famous American Biographies





LOUIS J. R. AGASSIZ, the eminent naturalist and geologist, was born in the parish of Motier, near Lake Neuchatel, Switzerland, May 28, 1807, but attained his greatest fame after becoming an American citizen. He studied the medical sciences at Zurich, Heidelberg and Munich. His first work was a Latin description of the fishes which Martius and Spix brought from Brazil. This was published in 1829-31. He devoted much time to the study of fossil fishes, and in 1832 was appointed professor of natural bistory at Neuchatel. He greatly increased his reputation by a great work in French, entitled ''Researches on Fossil Fishes," in 1832-42, in which he made many important improvements in the classification of fishes. Having passed many summers among the Alps in researches on glaciers, he propounded some new and interesting ideas on geology, and the agency of glaciers in his "Studies by the Glaciers." This was published in 1840. This latter work, with his "System of the Glaciers," published in 1847, are among his principal works.

In 1846, Professor Agassiz crossed the ocean on a scientific excursion to the United States, and soon determined to remain here. He accepted, about the beginning of 1848, the chair of zoology and geology at Harvard. He explored the natural history of the United States at different times and gave an impulse to the study of nature in this country. In 1865 he conducted an expedition to Brazil, and explored the lower Amazon and its tributaries. In 1868 he was made non resident professor of natural history at Cornell University. In December, 1871, he accompanied the Hassler expedition, under Professor Pierce, to the South Atlantic and Pacific oceans. He died at Cambridge, Massachusetts, December 14, 1873.

Among other of the important works of Professor Agassiz may be mentioned the following: "Outlines of Comparative Physiology," "Journey to Brazil," and "Contributions to the Natural History of the United States." It is said of Professor Agassiz, that, perhaps, with the exception of Hugh Miller, no one had so popularized science in his day, or trained so many young naturalists. Many of the theories held by Agassiz are not supported by many of the naturalists of these later days, but upon many of the speculations into the origin of species and in physics he has left the marks of his own strongly marked individuality.


FROM:
A Biographical Record
Of Schuyler County, New York
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
New York and Chicago 1903.


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