Louis Agassiz Letters, 1854-1858

Overview of the Collection

Agassiz, Louis, 1807-1873
Louis Agassiz Letters
1854-1858 (inclusive)
3 items
Collection Number
The Louis Agassiz Letters consists of correspondence and a photogravure pertaining to Agassiz's efforts to collect fish specimen and eggs (presumably fish eggs) from colleagues throughout New England.
Montana State University Library, Merrill G. Burlingame Special Collections
Montana State University-Bozeman Library
Merrill G Burlingame Special Collections
P.O. Box 173320
Bozeman, MT
Telephone: 4069944242
Fax: 4069942851
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Swiss-American zoologist and geologist. Professor of zoology and geology at Harvard University. Louis Agassiz was born in Môtier-en-Vuly, Switzerland. He studied at the universities of Zürich, 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 Neuchâtel, Switzerland. During this period Agassiz published Recherches sur les poissons fossiles (5 vol. and atlas, 183344), various studies of fossil echinoderms and mollusks, and Étude 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 DescriptionReturn to Top

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 specimens. Another letter, written from Newport, Rhode Island in July 1858, is to John Whipple Potter Jenks. At the time of Agassiz and Jenks' 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."

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Acquisition Information

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.

Processing Note

This collection was processed 2009 May 21

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Fishes-Collection and preservation-New England
  • Fishes-Eggs-Collection and preservation-New England
  • Zoologists--United States

Personal Names

  • Agassiz, Louis, 1807-1873
  • Hough, Franklin Benjamin, 1822-1885-Correspondence
  • Jenks, J. W. P. (John Whipple Potter), 1819-1894-Correspondence

Corporate Names

  • Harvard University-Faculty-Correspondence