Buckland, William, 1784-1856

Variant names

Hide Profile

William Buckland was an English cleric, geologist, and vertebrate paleontologist. He was the first Reader of Geology, University of Oxford (from 1819). Buckland is most noted as the scientific discoverer of dinosaurs.

From the description of Letters, 1817-1848. (American Philosophical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 122689446

English cleric William Buckland worked as a geologist and vertebrate paleontologist. The first Reader of Geology, University of Oxford (from 1819), Buckland is most noted as the scientific discoverer of dinosaurs.

From the guide to the William Buckland papers, 1817-1848, 1817-1848, (American Philosophical Society)

English geologist.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : to Mr. Brookfield, 1846 Apr. 9. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270528308

William Buckland is a British geologist and palaeontologist; he wrote the first account of a dinosaur fossil. He became the president of the Geological Society of London in 1824. John Stevens Henslow, also a geologist as well as a botanist, is best known for being professor of botany at Cambridge and Charles Darwin's mentor.

From the description of Letter to John Stevens Henslow, 1833, September 11. (Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens). WorldCat record id: 281307584

Louis Agassiz (1807-1873, APS 1843) was a zoologist and geologist. A student of Georges Cuvier, Agassiz was renown for his six-volume work Poissons fossils, a study of more than 1,700 ancient fish. Equally important was his Ètudes sur les glaciers (1840). In 1845 Agassiz moved to the United States on a two-year study grant from King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia to compare the flora and fauna of the United States and Europe. While in the United States he was invited to deliver a course of lectures at the Lowell Institute in Boston. He took America and New England by storm and as a result in 1847 was appointed professor of zoology and geology at Harvard’s new Lawrence Scientific School.

Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz was born in Motier, Switzerland on May 26, 1807, the son of a Protestant minister Rodolphe Agassiz and his wife Rose Mayor. Despite family pressure to enter business, Agassiz early decided to devote himself to the study of nature. At the age of twenty-one he predicted that he would become “the first naturalist of his time, a good citizen and a good son.” His determination gained Agassiz an excellent education in the natural sciences at the Universities of Heidelberg and Munich. He also made important contacts in early life that formed his outlook and provided the basis for his early career. The naturalist Johann B. Spix allowed him to publish on a collection of fish from Brazil that Spix had gathered, while the anatomist Ignaz Döllinger trained him to use the microscope and introduced him to the field of embryology. Philosophically, Agassiz was influenced by the German idealism of Lorenz Okenfuss, who built a system of biological classification based upon increasing complexity of sense organs. Agassiz’s scientific thought and practice was characterized by two separate and often contradictory outlooks. One was exact and pragmatic; the other was transcendental. His approach was clearly influenced by French zoologist and paleontologist Georges Cuvier, who passed on to Agassiz his remarkable collection of fossil fish illustrations. He also impressed the geographer Alexander Humboldt, an adviser to the king of Prussia who arranged an appointment for him at the Collège de Neuchâtel in 1832, where he taught natural history for more than ten years. During these years (1832-42) he studied fossil fish in museums and private collections throughout Europe, resulting in his six-volume Poissons fossils that described more than 1,700 primeval fish, that he analyzed according to Cuvier’s comparative method. The work, which won high praise from major Bristish naturalists Sir Charles Lyell and Richard Owen, provided the basis for Agassiz’s scientific fame and fortune. His natural philosophy was infused with the belief in an all-powerful diety, who planned and created every single living being, plant and animal, undercutting any genetic connection between ancient and modern creatures.

In addition to his work on fish, between 1837 and 1843 Agassiz did ground breaking work on glacial geology, presented in a paper presented to the Sociètè Helvétique des Sciences naturelles (July 1837) and in his book Etudes sur les glaciers in which he theorized that a massive glacier had once covered all of Europe. Although the idea had first been suggested by Swiss naturalist Jean de Charpentier, Agassiz was the first to publicize the idea and to apply it to all of Europe. A prolific writer, who wished to be personally involved with the production of his works, Agassiz developed a publishing house in Neuchâtel, that employed the latest technology in photo duplication and produced bibliographies, dictionaries and monographs by Agassiz and his assistants. In the spring of 1845 Agassiz’s fortunes abruptly shifted. His wife Cécile Braun Agassiz left her husband and Neuchâtel, his printing business closed due to accumulated debts, and he was forced to leave the Collège de Neuchâtel. Just as his luck seemed to run out, he received word of a 2-year grant secured for him by Humboldt from King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia for $3,000 to do a comparative study of the flora and fauna of the United States and Europe.

Shortly after the arrival of Agassiz in the United States, John Amory Lowell, manufacturer and head of the Lowell Institute in Boston, invited him to deliver a course of public lectures. New Englanders found the Swiss naturalist, who spoke enthusiastically about primitive fish and prehistoric glaciers, intriguing. New England scientific luminaries such as Harvard botanist Asa Gray and Yale chemist Benjamin Silliman lauded Agassiz as “full of knowledge on all subjects of science.” His lectures created such a demand for speaking engagements, that within less than two years Agassiz was able to repay $20,000 in European debt. In the fall of 1847 Harvard University offered him a chair of zoology and geology at its newly established Lawrence Scientic School. In July 1848, after his wife’s death, he arranged for his children to join him in the United States. These events, together with his 1850 marriage to a bright well-connected Bostonian Elizabeth Cabot Carey, sixteen years Agassiz’s junior, permanently anchored the Swiss scientist in America. Soon afterward Agassiz’s home in Cambridge became a center of intellectual life. As a Harvard professor he badgered the University continually for funds to build a major natural history museum to instruct the public and help to train advanced students. His efforts paid off in November 1859, when the Museum of Comparative Zoology opened its doors. The Museum provided a unique resource for American students to gain unrestricted, first hand access to natural specimens. Many practicing American naturalists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were trained by Agassiz and worked in his museum. The Museum testified to Agassiz’s passion for collecting and identifying the “entire natural kingdom all at once,” a desire that quickly filled the repository to overflowing with specimens. From a philosophical perspective Agassiz planned the Museum as a demonstration of the “master plan” that the diety had executed in the creation of the natural world, displaying the “type plan” of different classes and stressing the separate creation of each species. Agassiz’s core belief in the special creation of species by God undergirded his quest to locate new species. However, some colleagues criticized him as “species mad,” arguing that his museum and his methods added little to the conceptual understanding of natural history.

Agassiz’s reputation took a major hit in a series of Boston debates on evolution, after the publication of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species in 1859. Agassiz made a poor defense of special creation against Darwin’s defenders Asa Gray and William Barton Rogers. Furthermore, Agassiz’s understanding of special creationism as applied to human beings led him to view various races as distinct species, a rationale quickly adopted by the proponents slavery, who asserted a scientific basis to white supremecy.

Concerned about the decline of his professional reputation in the 1850s, in 1855 Agassiz announced the forthcoming publication of a projected ten-volume entitled Contributions to the Natural History of the United States of America. A total of 2,500 subscribers made advanced purchases at $12.00 each. The initial volume entitled Essay on Classification elaborated Agassiz’s views on classification, the philosophy of nature and the species concept. Appearing two years after Darwin’s Origin of Species, the work drew mixed reviews. Many were put off by the author’s dogmatism, others thought his views dated and moribund. Three more volumes appeared, but the publication of the projected set was never completed.

Many years later in 1872 Agassiz did reconsider evolution, trying to understand Darwin’s views by making a trip around South America, retracing Darwin’s voyage. However, he only became more convinced that the concept of evolution was “a scientific mistake, untrue to the facts, unscientific in its method, and mischievous in its tendency.” To the dismay of the scientific community Agassiz authored strident attacks on Darwinism in the popular press, infuriating Asa Gray and James Dana. Consequently, Agassiz was increasingly excluded from the politics of American science.

Agassiz remained at Harvard University until the end of his life. When he died at Cambridge, Massachusetts, he was deeply mourned by his adopted country.

From the guide to the Louis Jean Rodolph Agassiz papers, 1833-1873, 1833-1873 1833-1873, (American Philosophical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Sir Roderick Impey Murchison correspondence, 1829-1871, 1829-1871 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn John Endicott Peabody autograph album, 1816-1885. Houghton Library
referencedIn American Science and Medicine collection 1702-1897 American Science and Medicine collection William L. Clements Library
referencedIn Owen, Richard, 1804-1892. Papers, 1827-1889. American Philosophical Society Library
creatorOf Buckland, William, 1784-1856. Letter to John Stevens Henslow, 1833, September 11. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn Agassiz, Louis, 1807-1873. Correspondence and other papers, 1821-1877 Houghton Library
creatorOf William Buckland papers, 1817-1848, 1817-1848 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Wells, John West, 1907-1994,. Collection of letters relating to William Buckland, 1842-1967. Smithsonian Institution. Libraries
referencedIn Sumner, Charles, 1811-1874. Correspondence, 1829-1874 Houghton Library
referencedIn Ruskin, John, 1819-1900. Autograph letters signed (2) : Denmark Hill [London] and [n.p.], to Mrs. Buckland, [no year] Dec. 14 and [n.d.]. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn An Annotated Calendar of the Letters of Charles Darwin in the Library of the American Philosophical Society, 1799-1882 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Smyth, W. H. (William Henry), 1788-1865. Correspondence, 1820-1864. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Murchison, Roderick Impey, Sir, 1792-1871. Correspondence, 1829-1871. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Royal Society (Great Britain). Letters and communications from Americans, 1662-1900. American Philosophical Society Library
creatorOf Buckland, William, 1784-1856. Autograph letter signed : to Mr. Brookfield, 1846 Apr. 9. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Crosse, Andrew, 1784-1855. Letters. Smithsonian Institution. Libraries
referencedIn Manuscript Albums, 1615 - 1959 Newcastle University: Special Collections
referencedIn William Hutton letters, 1821-1852, 1821-1852 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf William L. Clements Library. American Science and Medicine collection, 1702-1897. William L. Clements Library
referencedIn John Edward Gray papers, 1783-1884, 1783-1884 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Buckland, William, 1784-1856. Letter. Smithsonian Institution. Libraries
referencedIn Letters of Joseph Pentland (1797-1873), explorer, to Reverend William Buckland (1784-1856), geologist, 1820-1822, 1820-1822 The University of Nottingham
referencedIn Richard Owen papers, 1827-1889, 1827-1889 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Samuel George Morton Papers, 1819-1850 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Royal Society (Great Britain) letters and communications from Americans, 1662-1900, 1662-1900 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Darwin, Charles, 1809-1882. Letters, 1837-1882. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Humboldt, Alexander von, 1769-1859. Papers, 1801-1859. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Gray, John Edward, 1800-1875. Papers, 1783-1884. American Philosophical Society Library
creatorOf William Buckland letters, 1827-1840 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Agassiz, Louis, 1807-1873. Papers, 1833-1873. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Scientists Collection, 1563-1973 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Coffin, James H. (James Henry), 1806-1873. James Henry Coffin Papers, 1848-1884 Smithsonian Institution Archives
referencedIn Eyles Collection, 1679-1983 University of Bristol Information Services - Special Collections
creatorOf Featherstonhaugh, George William, 1780-1866. [Letter, 1832 Oct. 13, Buckland, Va., to William Buckland, Christ's Church, Oxford, England] [manuscript]. University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
referencedIn W. H. (William Henry) Smyth correspondence, 1820-1864, 1820-1864 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Adam Sedgwick: Letters and Papers, 1818-1916 Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives
creatorOf Buckland, William, 1784-1856. Note, 1830, June 23 : Oxford. Brown University Archives, John Hay Library
referencedIn Owen, Richard, 1804-1892. Papers, 1826-1889. Temple University Libraries, Paley Library
referencedIn Morton, Samuel George, 1799-1851. Papers, 1819-1850. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Autograph File, B, ca.1500-1982 Houghton Library
creatorOf Louis Jean Rodolph Agassiz papers, 1833-1873, 1833-1873 1833-1873 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Peel, Robert, Sir, 1788-1850. 55 letters to William Buckland (1784-1856); Whitehall, 1836-1849. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Hutton, William, 1797-1860. Letters, 1821-1852. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Albert Stephens Borgman autograph collection, 1600-1950. Houghton Library
referencedIn Alexander von Humboldt papers, 1801-1859, 1793-1859 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Royal Society (Great Britain). Letters and communications from Americans, 1662-1900. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn Humboldt, Alexander von, 1769-1859. Miscellaneous correspondence, 1789-1859. American Philosophical Society Library
creatorOf Phillips, John, 1800-1874. Letters. Smithsonian Institution. Libraries
referencedIn Alexander von Humboldt miscellaneous correspondence, 1789-1859, 1789-1859 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Buckland, William, 1784-1856. Letter [n.d., n.p.], to Mr. Ticknor [n.p.]. Dartmouth College Library
referencedIn Thomas Webster Papers, 1814-1844 Aberystwyth University
referencedIn Album materials, 1777-1925 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Henry, William, 1774-1836. Papers, 1806-1834. Duke University, Medical Center Library & Archives
creatorOf Buckland, William, 1784-1856. Letters, 1817-1848. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn American Philosophical Society Library. Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection. 1668-1983. American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Richard Harlan Journals, 1816-1817, 1833 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Ruskin, John James. Autograph letter signed, dated : Herne Hill [London], to Dr. William Buckland, 1837 Nov. 4. Pierpont Morgan Library.
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Agassiz, Louis, 1807-1873. person
associatedWith Banks, Joseph, Sir, 1743-1820 person
associatedWith Borgman, Albert Stephens, 1890-1954 person
associatedWith Broderip, William John, 1789-1859. person
associatedWith Brookfield, Mr., person
associatedWith Burton, Edward, 1794-1836. person
associatedWith Cooper, Thomas, 1759-1839 person
associatedWith Cooper, William White person
associatedWith Cooper, William White, Sir. person
associatedWith Coues, Elliott, 1842-1899 person
associatedWith Crosse, Andrew, 1784-1855. person
associatedWith Cuvier, Georges, Baron, 1769-1832 person
associatedWith Darlington, William, 1782-1863 person
associatedWith Darwin, Charles, 1809-1882. person
associatedWith Davis, Charles Henry, 1807-1877 person
associatedWith Dibner, Bern, person
associatedWith Edison, Thomas A., (Thomas Alva), 1847-1931 person
associatedWith Einstein, Albert, 1879-1955 person
associatedWith Eliot, Charles William, 1834-1926 person
associatedWith Emery, Charles Edward, 1838-1898 person
associatedWith Everett, Edward, 1794-1865 person
associatedWith Featherstonhaugh, George William, 1780-1866. person
associatedWith Fitch, John person
associatedWith Genth, F. A., (Frederick Augustus), 1820-1893 person
associatedWith Gibson, John, 1778-1840 person
associatedWith Gibson, John, d. 1840. person
associatedWith Gray, Asa, 1810-1888 person
associatedWith Gray, John Edward, 1800-1875. person
associatedWith Greeley, Horace, 1811-1872 person
associatedWith Harding, Warren G. person
associatedWith Harlan, Richard, 1796-1843 person
associatedWith Hartt, Charles Frederick, 1840-1878 person
associatedWith Harvard University. Museum of Comparative Zoology. corporateBody
associatedWith Haven, Franklin, 1857-1908 person
correspondedWith Henry, Joseph, 1797-1878 person
associatedWith Henry, William, 1774-1836. person
associatedWith Henslow, J. S. (John Stevens), 1796-1861, person
associatedWith Humboldt, Alexander von, 1769-1859. person
associatedWith Hutton, William, 1797-1860. person
associatedWith Hutton, William, 1798-1860. person
associatedWith Hyatt, Alpheus, 1838-1902 person
associatedWith Kidder, Frederic, 1804-1885 person
associatedWith König, Charles Dietrich Eberhard, 1774-1851. person
associatedWith Layard, Austen Henry, Sir, 1817-1894 person
associatedWith LeConte, John L., (John Lawrence), 1825-1883 person
associatedWith LeConte, Joseph, 1823-1901 person
associatedWith Lesquereux, Leo, 1806-1889 person
associatedWith Lubbock, J. W. (John William), 1803-1865. person
associatedWith McLane, Allan person
associatedWith Milne-Edwards, H., (Henri), 1800-1885 person
associatedWith Milne-Home, David, 1805-1890. person
associatedWith Morton, Samuel George, 1799-1851. person
associatedWith Murchison, Roderick Impey, Sir, 1792-1871. person
associatedWith Newcomb, Simon person
associatedWith Newton, Isaac, Sir, 1642-1727 person
associatedWith Owen, Richard, 1804-1892. person
associatedWith Parsons, Thomas William, 1819-1892 person
associatedWith Peabody, John Endicott, 1853-1921 person
associatedWith Peel, Robert, Sir, 1788-1850. person
associatedWith Phillips, John, 1800-1874. person
associatedWith Poinsett, Joel Roberts, 1779-1851 person
associatedWith Ransom, George. person
associatedWith Rittenhouse, David, 1732-1796 person
associatedWith Royal Society (Great Britain) corporateBody
associatedWith Rush, Benjamin, 1746-1813 person
associatedWith Ruskin, John, 1819-1900. person
associatedWith Ruskin, John James. person
associatedWith Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe, 1793-1864 person
associatedWith Sedgwick, Adam person
associatedWith Seybert, Adam, 1773-1825 person
associatedWith Smyth, W. H. (William Henry), 1788-1865. person
associatedWith Sopwith, Thomas, 1803-1879. person
associatedWith Sparks, Jared, 1789-1866 person
associatedWith Stevens, Henry person
associatedWith Sully, Thomas, 1783-1872 person
correspondedWith Sumner, Charles, 1811-1874 person
associatedWith Thomson, Charles, 1729-1824 person
associatedWith Ticknor, George, 1791-1871. person
associatedWith Victor and Joan Eyles person
associatedWith Waterton, Charles, 1782-1865. person
associatedWith Wayne, Anthony person
associatedWith Webster, Thomas., 1773-1844 person
associatedWith Wells, John West, 1907-1994, person
associatedWith Wheatstone, Charles, Sir, 1802-1875. person
associatedWith William L. Clements Library. corporateBody
associatedWith Wilson, Henry, 1812-1875 person
associatedWith Winsor, Justin, 1831-1897 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Ely (England)
Beyond Early America
Natural history
Natural history museums
Science and technology
Scientific expeditions
Zoological museums


Birth 1784-03-12

Death 1856-08-14




Permalink: http://n2t.net/ark:/99166/w65144j2

Ark ID: w65144j2

SNAC ID: 23809538