Hitchcock, A.S. (Albert Spear), 1865-1935

Alternative names
Birth 1865-09-04
Death 1935-12-16

Biographical notes:

Albert Spear Hitchcock (1865-1935) was born in Owasso, Michigan, on September 4, 1865. He entered Iowa State Agricultural College, receiving his B.S. in 1884, and an M.S. in 1886. He joined the United States Department of Agriculture in 1901 as Assistant Agrostologist under Frank Lamson-Scribner. In 1905 he was put in charge of the grass herbarium and became Systematic Agrostologist. After 1928, he held the title of Principal Biologist in charge of Systematic Agrostology of the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and kept that title until his death in 1935. His relationship with the Smithsonian began in 1912 when he became Custodian of Grasses, Division of Plants, United States National Museum (USNM). At that time, the grass herbarium was apparently transferred to the National Museum. Hitchcock remained Custodian without remuneration until his death. Hitchcock was very much interested in nomenclature and helped educate botanists throughout the world on the advantages of basing specimen names on the type method rather than on previous authority. His writings and support for the Fourth International Botanical Congress project on nomenclature reunion at Ithaca, New York, in 1926, helped lay the foundation for an international agreement on nomenclature at the Congress meeting held at Cambridge in 1930. Hitchcock also originated the idea of preserving a portion of tropical jungle in the canal zone. While he was chairman of the Executive Committee of the Institute for Research in Tropical America, Barro Colorado Island was made into a permanent preserve. Hitchcock traveled widely collecting botanical specimens, including the entire United States, most of Latin America, and parts of Africa, Asia, and Europe. In 1929 he was the botanist representative from the United States at the British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting held in South Africa.

Smithsonian Institution Archives Field Book Project: Person : Description : rid_22_pid_EACP21


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  • Grasses
  • Botany
  • Sand dunes


  • Botanists


  • Europe (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Colorado (as recorded)