Collection 2456 - Louis Agassiz Letters, 1854-1858

Creator: Agassiz, Louis, 1807-1873

Provenance Note: Two personal letters by Louis Agassiz and a photogravure portrait were donated to Montana State University Library by Vernon Gallup of Bigfork, Montana in December, 2000.

Historical Note: Swiss-American zoologist and geologist. Professor of zoology and geology at Harvard University. Louis Agassiz was born in Mtiers-en-Vuly, Switzerland. He studied at the universities of Zrich, Erlangen (Ph.D., 1829), Heidelberg, and Munich (M.D., 1830). Agassiz studied medicine briefly but turned to zoology, with a special interest in fishes and fossils, while studying under the French naturalist Cuvier. In 1832 he became professor of natural history at the University of Neuchtel, Switzerland. During this period Agassiz published Recherches sur les poissons fossiles (5 vol. and atlas, 183344), various studies of fossil echinoderms and mollusks, and tude sur les glaciers (1840), one of the first descriptions of glacial movements and glacial deposits. Agassiz arrived in the United States in 1846 and accepted the professorship of zoology and geology at Harvard University in 1848. Among his areas of interest were Amazonian ichthyology and deep-sea studies of the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of the United States. Agassiz was instrumental in founding the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University, in 1860.

Content Description Note: The letters in this collection focus on Agassiz's efforts to collect fish specimen and eggs (presumably fish eggs) from colleagues throughout New England. The first, written from Cambridge, Massachusetts in April of 1854 to Franklin Benjamin Hough, a physician, author, and chief of the forestry division of the United States Department of Agriculture from 1876-1883, details Agassiz's efforts to collect a wide variety of fish specimen. Another letter, written from Newport, Rhode Island in July 1858, is to John Whipple Potter Jenks. At the time of Agassiz and Jenk's correspondence, Jenks was a professor of zoology at the Boston Horticultural Society (1858-1860). Beginning in 1873, Jenks chaired the department of agricultural zoology at Brown University and was curator of the University's museum collections. In his letter to Jenks, Agassiz apologizes for being unable to stop in Middleboro (Massachusetts?) and requests that Jenks send eggs (presumably fish eggs) by an express messenger so, "that they should not be spoiled."


Folder 1
1. Agassiz, Louis, Letter to Franklin Benjamin Hough, April 27th, 1854
2. Agassiz, Louis, Letter John Whipple Potter Jenks, July 24th, 1858
3. Photogravure portrait of Louis Agassiz

Updated: 1/9/13