Louis Agassiz

Louis Agassiz

Louis Agassiz H6.jpg
Born(1807-05-28)May 28, 1807
Mont-Vully, Switzerland
DiedDecember 14, 1873(1873-12-14) (aged 66)
CitizenshipUnited States
Alma materUniversity of Erlangen-Nuremberg
Known forIce age, Polygenism
Spouse(s)Cecilie Braun
Elizabeth Cabot Cary
ChildrenAlexander, Ida, and Pauline
AwardsWollaston Medal (1836)
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Neuchâtel
Harvard University
Cornell University
Doctoral advisorCarl Friedrich Philipp von Martius
Other academic advisorsIgnaz Döllinger, Georges Cuvier, Alexander von Humboldt[1]
Notable studentsWilliam Stimpson, William Healey Dall, Carl Vogt[1]
Appletons' Agassiz Jean Louis Rudolphe signature.svg

Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz (/ˈæɡəsi/; French: [aɡasi]) FRS(For) FRSE (May 28, 1807 – December 14, 1873) was a Swiss-born American biologist and geologist recognized as an innovative and prodigious scholar of Earth's natural history. Agassiz grew up in Switzerland. He received doctor of philosophy and medical degrees at Erlangen and Munich, respectively. After studying with Cuvier and Humboldt in Paris, Agassiz was appointed professor of natural history at the University of Neuchâtel. He emigrated to the United States in 1847 after visiting Harvard University. He went on to become professor of zoology and geology at Harvard, to head its Lawrence Scientific School, and to found its Museum of Comparative Zoology.

Agassiz is known for his regimen of observational data gathering and analysis. He made vast institutional and scientific contributions to zoology, geology, and related areas, including writing multivolume research books running to thousands of pages. He is particularly known for his contributions to ichthyological classification, including of extinct species such as megalodon, and to the study of geological history, including to the founding of glaciology.

In the 20th and 21st centuries, Agassiz's resistance to Darwinian evolution, belief in creationism, and the scientific racism implicit in his writings on human polygenism have tarnished his reputation, and led to controversies over his legacy.

Early life

Louis Agassiz was born in the village of Môtier (now part of Haut-Vully) in the Swiss canton of Fribourg.[2] He was the son of a pastor,[3] Louis Rudolphe and his wife, Rose Mayor. His father was a Protestant clergyman, as had been his progenitors for six generations, and his mother, the daughter of a physician and an intellectual in her own right, assisted her husband in the education of her boys.[2] He was educated firstly at home;[2] Agassiz then spent four years at secondary school in Bienne, entering in 1818 and completing his elementary studies in Lausanne. Agassiz studied successively at the universities of Zürich, Heidelberg, and Munich. While at the last, he extended his knowledge of natural history, especially of botany. In 1829, he received the degree of doctor of philosophy at Erlangen, and in 1830, that of doctor of medicine at Munich.[4] Moving to Paris, he came under the tutelage of Alexander von Humboldt (and later received his financial benevolence).[5] Humboldt and Georges Cuvier launched him on his careers of geology and zoology, respectively. Ichthyology soon became a focus of his life's work.[6]


Agassiz in 1870

In 1819–1820, German biologists Johann Baptist von Spix and Carl Friedrich Philipp von Martius undertook an expedition to Brazil. They returned home to Europe with many natural objects, including an important collection of the freshwater fish of Brazil, especially of the Amazon River. Spix, who died in 1826, did not live long enough to work out the history of these fish, and Martius selected Agassiz for this project. Agassiz threw himself into the work with an enthusiasm that would go on to characterize the rest of his life's work. The task of describing the Brazilian fish was completed and published in 1829. This was followed by research into the history of fish found in Lake Neuchâtel. Enlarging his plans, in 1830, he issued a prospectus of a History of the Freshwater Fish of Central Europe. In 1839, however, the first part of this publication appeared, and it was completed in 1842.[4]

In November, 1832, Agassiz was appointed professor of natural history at the University of Neuchâtel, at a salary of about US$400, declining brilliant offers in Paris because of the leisure for private study that this position afforded him.[7] The fossil fish in the rock of the surrounding region, the slates of Glarus and the limestones of Monte Bolca, soon attracted his attention. At the time, very little had been accomplished in their scientific study. Agassiz, as early as 1829, planned the publication of a work, which more than any other, laid the foundation of his worldwide fame. Five volumes of his Recherches sur les poissons fossiles (Research on Fossil Fish) were published from 1833 to 1843. They were magnificently illustrated, chiefly by Joseph Dinkel.[8] In gathering materials for this work, Agassiz visited the principal museums in Europe, and meeting Cuvier in Paris, he received much encouragement and assistance from him.[4] They had known him for seven years at the time.

In 1833 he married Cecile Braun, sister of his friend Alexander Braun, and established his household at Neuchâtel; trained to scientific drawing by her brothers, his wife was of the greatest assistance to Agassiz, some of the most beautiful plates in fossil and fresh-water fishes being drawn by her.[7]

Agassiz found that his palaeontological analyses required a new ichthyological classification. The fossils he examined rarely showed any traces of the soft tissues of fish, but, instead, consisted chiefly of the teeth, scales, and fins, with the bones being perfectly preserved in comparatively few instances. He, therefore, adopted a classification that divided fish into four groups: ganoids, placoids, cycloids, and ctenoids, based on the nature of the scales and other dermal appendages. This did much to improve fish taxonomy, but Agassiz's classification has since been superseded.[4]

With the two Louis de Coulon, father and son, he founded the Societé des Sciences Naturelles, of which he was the first secretary, and in conjunction with the Coulons also arranged a provisional museum of natural history in the orphan's home.[7] Agassiz needed financial support to continue his work. The British Association and the Earl of Ellesmere—then Lord Francis Egerton—stepped in to help. The 1,290 original drawings made for the work were purchased by the Earl, and presented by him to the Geological Society of London. In 1836, the Wollaston Medal was awarded to Agassiz by the council of that society for his work on fossil ichthyology; and, in 1838, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Society. Meanwhile, invertebrate animals engaged his attention. In 1837, he issued the "Prodrome" of a monograph on the recent and fossil Echinodermata, the first part of which appeared in 1838; in 1839–40, he published two quarto volumes on the fossil echinoderms of Switzerland; and in 1840–45, he issued his Études critiques sur les mollusques fossiles (Critical Studies on Fossil Mollusks).[4]

Before Agassiz's first visit to England in 1834, Hugh Miller and other geologists had brought to light the remarkable fossil fish of the Old Red Sandstone of the northeast of Scotland. The strange forms of Pterichthys, Coccosteus and other genera were then made known to geologists for the first time. They were of intense interest to Agassiz, and formed the subject of a monograph by him published in 1844–45: Monographie des poissons fossiles du Vieux Grès Rouge, ou Système Dévonien (Old Red Sandstone) des Îles Britanniques et de Russie (Monograph on Fossil Fish of the Old Red Sandstone, or Devonian System of the British Isles and of Russia).[4] In the early stages of his career in Neuchatel, Agassiz also made a name for himself as a man who could run a scientific department well. Under his care, the University of Neuchâtel soon became a leading institution for scientific inquiry.[citation needed]

Portrait photograph by John Adams Whipple, circa 1865

In 1842–1846, Agassiz issued his Nomenclator Zoologicus, a classification list, with references, of all names used in zoological genera and groups.

Ice age

Nouvelles études et expériences sur les glaciers actuels, 1847

The vacation of 1836 was spent by Agassiz and his wife in the little village of Bex, where he met Jean de Charpentier and Ignaz Venetz, whose recently announced glacial theories had startled the scientific world, and Agassiz returned to Neuchâtel an enthusiastic convert.[9] In 1837, Agassiz proposed that the Earth had been subjected to a past ice age.[10] He presented the theory to the Helvetic Society that not only had ancient glaciers flowed outward from the Alps, but even larger glaciers had covered the plains and mountains of Europe, Asia, and North America, smothering the entire Northern Hemisphere in a prolonged ice age. In the same year, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Prior to this proposal, Goethe, de Saussure, Ignaz Venetz, Jean de Charpentier, Karl Friedrich Schimper, and others had studied the glaciers of the Alps, and Goethe,[11] Charpentier, and Schimper[10] had even concluded that the erratic blocks of alpine rocks scattered over the slopes and summits of the Jura Mountains had been moved there by glaciers. These ideas attracted the attention of Agassiz, and he discussed them with Charpentier and Schimper, whom he accompanied on successive trips to the Alps. Agassiz even had a hut constructed upon one of the Aar Glaciers, which for a time he made his home, to investigate the structure and movements of the ice.[4]

Agassiz visited England, and with William Buckland, the only English naturalist who shared his ideas, made a tour of the British Isles in search of glacial phenomena, and became satisfied that his theory of an ice-age was correct.[9] In 1840, Agassiz published a two-volume work entitled Études sur les glaciers (Studies on Glaciers).[12] In this, he discussed the movements of the glaciers, their moraines, and their influence in grooving and rounding the rocks and in producing the striations and roches moutonnees seen in Alpine-style landscapes. He accepted Charpentier and Schimper's idea that some of the alpine glaciers had extended across the wide plains and valleys of the Aar and Rhône, but he went further, concluding that, in the recent past, Switzerland had been covered with one vast sheet of ice, originating in the higher Alps and extending over the valley of northwestern Switzerland to southern slopes of the Jura. The publication of this work gave fresh impetus to the study of glacial phenomena in all parts of the world.[13]

Familiar, then, with recent glaciation, Agassiz and English geologist William Buckland visited the mountains of Scotland in 1840. There, they found clear evidence in different locations of glacial action. The discovery was announced to the Geological Society of London in successive communications. The mountainous districts of England, Wales, and Ireland were understood to have been centres for the dispersion of glacial debris. Agassiz remarked, "that great sheets of ice, resembling those now existing in Greenland, once covered all the countries in which unstratified gravel (boulder drift) is found; that this gravel was in general produced by the trituration of the sheets of ice upon the subjacent surface, etc."[14]

The man-sized iron auger used by Agassiz to drill up to 7.5 m deep into the Unteraar Glacier to take its temperature (Swiss Alpine Museum, Bern)

United States

With the aid of a grant of money from the King of Prussia, Agassiz crossed the Atlantic in the autumn of 1846 to investigate the natural history and geology of North America and to deliver a course of lectures on "The Plan of Creation as shown in the Animal Kingdom,"[15] by invitation from J. A. Lowell, at the Lowell Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. The financial offers presented to him in the United States induced him to settle there, where he remained to the end of his life.[14] He was elected a foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1846.[16]

In 1846, while still married to Cecilie, who remained with their three children in Switzerland, Agassiz met Elizabeth Cabot Cary at a dinner. The two developed a romantic attachment, and when his wife died in 1848 they made plans to marry, in a ceremony that took place on April 25, 1850 in Boston, Massachusetts at King's Chapel. Agassiz brought his children to live with them, and Elizabeth raised and developed close relationships with her step-children. She had no children of her own.[17]

Agassiz had a mostly cordial relationship with Harvard botanist Asa Gray, despite their disagreements.[18] Agassiz believed each human race had been separately created, but Gray (a supporter of Charles Darwin) believed in the shared evolutionary ancestry of all humans.[19]In addition, Agassiz was a member of the Scientific Lazzaroni, a group of mostly physical scientists who wanted American academia to mimic the (more autocratic) academic structures of European universities, whereas Gray was a staunch opponent of that group.

Agassiz's engagement for the Lowell Institute lectures precipitated the establishment, in 1847, of the Lawrence Scientific School at Harvard University, with Agassiz as its head.[20] Harvard appointed him professor of zoology and geology, and he founded the Museum of Comparative Zoology there in 1859, serving as the museum's first director until his death in 1873. During his tenure at Harvard, Agassiz studied the effect of the last ice age on North America.[citation needed] In August, 1857, Agassiz was offered the chair of palaeontology in the Museum of Natural History in Paris, which he refused; later he was decorated with the Cross of the Legion of Honor.[21]

Agassiz continued his lectures for the Lowell Institute. In succeeding years, he gave lectures on "Ichthyology" (1847–48 season), "Comparative Embryology" (1848–49), "Functions of Life in Lower Animals" (1850–51), "Natural History" (1853–54), "Methods of Study in Natural History" (1861–62), "Glaciers and the Ice Period" (1864–65), "Brazil" (1866–67), and "Deep Sea Dredging" (1869–70).[22] In 1850, he married an American college teacher, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, who later wrote introductory books about natural history and a lengthy biography of her husband after he died.[23]

Agassiz served as a nonresident lecturer at Cornell University while also being on faculty at Harvard.[24] In 1852, he accepted a medical professorship of comparative anatomy at Charlestown, Massachusetts, but resigned in two years.[14] From this time, Agassiz's, scientific studies dropped off, but he became one of the best-known scientists in the world. By 1857, Agassiz was so well-loved that his friend Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote "The fiftieth birthday of Agassiz" in his honor, and read it at a dinner given for Agassiz by the Saturday Club in Cambridge.[14] His own writing continued with four (of a planned 10) volumes of Natural History of the United States, published from 1857 to 1862. He also published a catalog of papers in his field, Bibliographia Zoologiae et Geologiae, in four volumes between 1848 and 1854.[citation needed]

Stricken by ill health in the 1860s, Agassiz resolved to return to the field for relaxation and to resume his studies of Brazilian fish. In April 1865, he led a party to Brazil. Following his return in August 1866, an account of this expedition, entitled A Journey in Brazil, was published in 1868. In December 1871, he made a second eight-month excursion, known as the Hassler expedition under the command of Commander Philip Carrigan Johnson (brother of Eastman Johnson), visiting South America on its southern Atlantic and Pacific seaboards. The ship explored the Magellan Strait, drawing the praise of Charles Darwin.[citation needed]

His second wife, Elizabeth Cary Agassiz, daughter of Thomas Graves Cary, of Boston, who was president of Radcliffe college in 1898, desired to share his studies, and aided her husband in preparing his A Journey in Brazil, and in connection with his son, Alexander Agassiz, wrote Seaside Studies in Natural History, and Marine Animals of Massachusetts.[21] Elizabeth wrote, at the Strait: '... the Hassler pursued her course, past a seemingly endless panorama of mountains and forests rising into the pale regions of snow and ice, where lay glaciers in which every rift and crevasse, as well as the many cascades flowing down to join the waters beneath, could be counted as she steamed by them. ... These were weeks of exquisite delight to Agassiz. The vessel often skirted the shore so closely that its geology could be studied from the deck.'[citation needed]


Agassiz in middle age

From his first marriage to Cecilie Bruan, Agassiz had two daughters in addition to son Alexander.[25] In 1863, Agassiz's daughter Ida married Henry Lee Higginson, who later founded the Boston Symphony Orchestra and was a benefactor to Harvard and other schools. On November 30, 1860, Agassiz's daughter Pauline was married to Quincy Adams Shaw (1825–1908), a wealthy Boston merchant and later benefactor to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.[26] Pauline Agassiz Shaw later became a prominent educator, suffragist, and philanthropist.[27]


In the last years of his life, Agassiz worked to establish a permanent school where zoological science could be pursued amid the living subjects of its study. In 1873, a private philanthropist (John Anderson) gave Agassiz the island of Penikese, in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts (south of New Bedford), and presented him with $50,000 to permanently endow it as a practical school of natural science, especially devoted to the study of marine zoology.[14] The John Anderson school collapsed soon after Agassiz's death; it is considered a precursor of the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, which is nearby.[28]

Agassiz had a profound influence on the American branches of his two fields, teaching many future scientists who would go on to prominence, including Alpheus Hyatt, David Starr Jordan, Joel Asaph Allen, Joseph Le Conte, Ernest Ingersoll, William James, Charles Sanders Peirce, Nathaniel Shaler, Samuel Hubbard Scudder, Alpheus Packard, and his son Alexander Emanuel Agassiz, among others. He had a profound impact on paleontologist Charles Doolittle Walcott and natural scientist Edward S. Morse. Agassiz had a reputation for being a demanding teacher. He would allegedly "lock a student up in a room full of turtle-shells, or lobster-shells, or oyster-shells, without a book or a word to help him, and not let him out till he had discovered all the truths which the objects contained."[29] Two of Agassiz's most prominent students detailed their personal experiences under his tutelage: Scudder, in a short magazine article for Every Saturday,[30] and Shaler, in his Autobiography.[31] These and other recollections were collected and published by Lane Cooper in 1917,[32] which Ezra Pound was to draw on for his anecdote of Agassiz and the sunfish.[33]

In the early 1840s, Agassiz named two fossil fish species after Mary AnningAcrodus anningiae, and Belenostomus anningiae— and another after her friend, Elizabeth Philpot. Anning was a paleontologist known around the world for important finds, but because of her gender, she was often not formally recognized for her work. Agassiz was grateful for the help the women gave him in examining fossil fish specimens during his visit to Lyme Regis in 1834.[34]

Agassiz died in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1873 and was buried on the Bellwort Path at Mount Auburn Cemetery,[35] joined later by his wife. His monument is a boulder from a glacial moraine of the Aar near the site of the old Hôtel des Neuchâtelois, not far from the spot where his hut once stood; his grave is sheltered by pine trees from his old home in Switzerland.[14]

The Cambridge elementary school north of Harvard University was named in his honor and the surrounding neighborhood became known as "Agassiz" as a result. The school's name was changed to the Maria L. Baldwin School on May 21, 2002, due to concerns about Agassiz's involvement in scientific racism, and to honor Maria Louise Baldwin the African-American principal of the school, who served from 1889 until 1922.[36][37] The neighborhood, however, continues to be known as Agassiz.[38] An elementary school called the Agassiz Elementary School in Minneapolis, Minnesota, existed from 1922 to 1981.[39]

Geological Tributes

Agassiz's grave, Mt Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts, is a boulder from the moraine of the Aar Glaciers, near where he once lived.

An ancient glacial lake that formed in the Great Lakes region of North America, Lake Agassiz, is named after him, as are Mount Agassiz in California's Palisades, Mount Agassiz, in the Uinta Mountains of Utah, Agassiz Peak in Arizona, and in his native Switzerland, the Agassizhorn in the Bernese Alps. Agassiz Glacier (Montana) and Agassiz Creek in Glacier National Park and Agassiz Glacier (Alaska) in Saint Elias Mountains, Mount Agassiz in Bethlehem, New Hampshire in the White Mountains also bear his name. A crater on Mars Crater Agassiz[40] and a promontorium on the moon are also named in his honor. A headland situated in Palmer Land, Antarctica, is named in his honor, Cape Agassiz. A main-belt asteroid named 2267 Agassiz is also named in association with Louis Agassiz.

Biological Tributes

Several animal species are named in honor of Louis Agassiz, including Agassiz's dwarf cichlid Apistogramma agassizii Steindachner, 1875; Agassiz's perchlet also known as Agassiz's glass fish and the olive perchlet Ambassis agassizii Steindachner, 1866; The Spring Cavefish Forbesichthys agassizii (Putnam, 1872); the catfish Corydoras agassizii Steindachner, 1876; the Rio Skate Rioraja agassizii (J. P. Müller & Henle, 1841); the Snailfish Liparis agassizii Putnam, 1874; a sea snail ,Borsonella agassizii (Dall, 1908); a species of crab Eucratodes agassizii A. Milne Edwards, 1880; Isocapnia agassizi Ricker, 1943 (a stonefly); Publius agassizi (Kaup, 1871) (a passalid beetle); Xylocrius agassizi (LeConte, 1861) (a longhorn beetle); Exoprosopa agassizii Loew, 1869 (a bee fly); Chelonia agassizii Bocourt, 1868 (Galápagos green turtle);[41] Philodryas agassizii (Jan, 1863) (a South American snake);[41] and the most well-known, Gopherus agassizii (Cooper, 1863) (the desert tortoise).[41] More recently in 2020, a new genus of pycnodont fish (Actinopterygii, Pycnodontiformes) named Agassazilia erfoundina (Cooper and Martill, 2020) from the Moroccan Kem Kem Group was named in honor of Agassiz who first identified the group in the 1830s.

Tribute Awards

In 2005, the European Geosciences Union Division on Cryospheric Sciences established the Louis Agassiz Medal, awarded to individuals in recognition of their outstanding scientific contribution to the study of the cryosphere on Earth or elsewhere in the solar system.[42]

Agassiz took part in a monthly gathering called the Saturday Club at the Parker House, a meeting of Boston writers and intellectuals. He was, therefore, mentioned in a stanza of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. poem "At the Saturday Club":

There, at the table's further end I see
In his old place our Poet's vis-à-vis,
The great PROFESSOR, strong, broad-shouldered, square,
In life's rich noontide, joyous, debonair

How will her realm be darkened, losing thee,
Her darling, whom we call our AGASSIZ!

Daguerreotypes of Renty and Delia Taylor

Renty Taylor

In 1850 Agassiz commissioned daguerreotypes, described as "haunting and voyeuristic" of the enslaved Renty Taylor and Taylor's daughter Delia to further his arguments about black inferiority.[43] They are the earliest known photographs of slaves.[44][45][43][46] Agassiz left the images to Harvard and they remained in the Peabody Museum’s attic until 1976 when they were re-discovered by Ellie Reichlin, a former staff member.[47][48] The fifteen daguerrotypes were in a case with the embossing "J. T. Zealy, Photographer, Columbia" with several handwritten labels, which helped in later identification.[48] Reichlin spent months doing research in order to try to identify the people in the photos, but Harvard University did not make efforts to contact the families and licensed the photos for use.[48][49]

In 2011, Tamara Lanier wrote a letter to the president of Harvard, identifying herself as a direct descendant of the Taylors and asking for the return of the photos.[49][50]

In 2019, Taylor's descendants sued Harvard for the return of the images and unspecified damages.[51] The lawsuit was supported by forty-three living descendants of Louis Agassiz, they wrote a letter of support that read in part "For Harvard to give the daguerreotypes to Ms. Lanier and her family would begin to make amends for its use of the photos as exhibits for the white supremacist theory Agassiz espoused,” and that everyone must evaluate fully "his role in promoting a pseudoscientific justification for white supremacy."[44]


After the 1906 San Francisco earth­quake toppled Agassiz's statue from the façade of Stanford's zoology building, Stanford President David Starr Jordan wrote, "Somebody‍—‌Dr. Angell, perhaps‍—‌remarked that 'Agassiz was great in the abstract but not in the concrete.'"[52]

After Agassiz came to the United States, he wrote prolifically on polygenism, which holds that animals, plants, and humans were all created in "special provinces" with distinct populations of species created in and for each province, and that these populations were endowed with different attributes.[53] Agassiz denied that migration and adaptation could account for the geographical patterns. For example, Agassiz questioned how plants or animals could migrate through regions they were not equipped to handle.[54][failed verification] According to Agassiz, the conditions in which particular creatures live "are the conditions necessary to their maintenance, and what among organized beings is essential to their temporal existence must be at least one of the conditions under which they were created".[54][failed verification] Agassiz was opposed to monogenism and evolution, believing that the theory of evolution reduced the wisdom of God to an impersonal materialism.[54][failed verification]

Agassiz was influenced by philosophical idealism and the scientific work of Georges Cuvier. Agassiz believed that one species of humans exists, but many different creations of races occurred.[54][failed verification] These ideas have been used in support of scientific racism. According to Agassiz, genera and species were ideas in the mind of God; their existence in God's mind prior to their physical creation meant that God could create humans as one species, yet in several distinct and geographically separate acts of creation. Agassiz was in modern terms a creationist who believed nature had order because God created it directly. Agassiz viewed his career in science as a search for ideas in the mind of the creator expressed in creation.[citation needed]

Agassiz, like many other polygenists, believed the Book of Genesis recounted the origin of the white race only and that the animals and plants in the Bible refer only to those species proximate and familiar to Adam and Eve. Agassiz believed that the writers of the Bible knew only of regional events; for example that Noah's flood was a local event known only to the regions near those populated by ancient Hebrews.[54][failed verification]

Stephen Jay Gould asserted that Agassiz's observations sprang from racist bias, in particular from his revulsion on first encountering African-Americans in the United States.[55] In contrast, others have asserted that, despite favoring polygenism, Agassiz rejected racism and believed in a spiritualized human unity.[54][failed verification] Agassiz believed God made all men equal, and that intellectualism and morality, as developed in civilization, make men equal before God.[54][failed verification] Agassiz never supported slavery and claimed his views on polygenism had nothing to do with politics;[56] however his views on polygenism emboldened proponents of slavery.[44]

Accusations of racism against Agassiz have prompted the renaming of landmarks, schoolhouses, and other institutions (which abound in Massachusetts) that bear his name.[37] Opinions on these events are often mixed, given his extensive scientific legacy in other areas, and uncertainty about his actual racial beliefs.[57] In 2007, the Swiss government acknowledged his "racist thinking," but declined to rename the Agassizhorn summit.[58] In 2017, the Swiss Alpine Club declined to revoke Agassiz's status as a member of honor, which he received in 1865 for his scientific work, because the club considered this status to have lapsed on Agassiz's death.[59] In 2020, the Stanford Department of Psychology requested to remove a statue of Louis Agassiz from the front façade of its building.[60]


Portrait of Louis Agassiz (1840)
Portrait of Louis Agassiz (1840)

See also


  1. ^ a b Nicolaas A. Rupke, Alexander von Humboldt: A Metabiography, University of Chicago Press, 2008, p. 54.
  2. ^ a b c Johnson 1906, p. 60
  3. ^ Frank Leslie's new family magazine. v. 1 (1857), p. 29
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Woodward 1911, p. 367.
  5. ^ Andrea Wulf, The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World. New York: Alfred A. Knopf 2015, p. 250
  6. ^ Kelly, Howard A.; Burrage, Walter L. (eds.). "Agassiz, Jean Louis Rudolph" . American Medical Biographies . Baltimore: The Norman, Remington Company.
  7. ^ a b c Johnson 1906, p. 61
  8. ^ "Agassiz's Fossil Fish". The Geological Society.
  9. ^ a b Johnson 1906, p. 62
  10. ^ a b E.P. Evans: "The Authorship of the Glacial Theory", North American review Volume 145, Issue 368, July 1887. Accessed on January 24, 2018.
  11. ^ Cameron, Dorothy (1964). Early discoverers XXII, Goethe-Discoverer of the ice age. Journal of glaciology (PDF).
  12. ^ Louis Agassiz: Études sur les glaciers, Neuchâtel 1840. Digital book on Wikisource. Accessed on February 25, 2008.
  13. ^ Woodward 1911, pp. 367–368.
  14. ^ a b c d e f Woodward 1911, p. 368.
  15. ^ Smith, p. 52.
  16. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter A" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved April 6, 2011.
  17. ^ Paton, Lucy Allen. Elizabeth Cabot Agassiz; a biography. Boston, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1919.
  18. ^ Dupree, A. Hunter (1988). Asa Gray, American Botanist, Friend of Darwin. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 152–154, 224–225. ISBN 978-0-801-83741-8.
  19. ^ Dupree, A. Hunter (1988). Asa Gray, American Botanist, Friend of Darwin. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. ix–xv, 152–154, 224–225. ISBN 978-0-801-83741-8.
  20. ^ Smith (1898), pp. 39–41.
  21. ^ a b Johnson 1906, p. 63
  22. ^ Smith (1898), pp. 52–66.
  23. ^ Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary (1893). Louis Agassiz; his life and correspondence. MBLWHOI Library. Boston and New York, Houghton, Mifflin and company.
  24. ^ A History of Cornell by Morris Bishop (1962), p. 83.
  25. ^ Irmscher, Christoph (2013). Louis Agassiz: Creator of American Science. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  26. ^ Museum of Fine Arts (1918). "Quincy Adams Shaw Collection". Boston, Massachusetts: Museum of Fine Arts: 2. Cite journal requires |journal=
  27. ^ "Pauline Agassiz Shaw". bwht.org. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  28. ^ Dexter, R.W. (1980). "The Annisquam Sea-side Laboratory of Alpheus Hyatt, Predecessor of the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, 1880–1886". In Sears, Mary; Merriman, Daniel (eds.). Oceanography: The Past. New York: Springer. pp. 94–100. doi:10.1007/978-1-4613-8090-0_10. ISBN 978-1-4613-8090-0. OCLC 840282810.
  29. ^ James, William. "Louis Agassiz, Words Spoken. ... . at the Reception of the American Society of Naturalists. ... . [Dec 30, 1896]. pp. 9–10. Cambridge, 1897. Quoted in Cooper 1917, pp. 61–62.
  30. ^ Erlandson, David A.; et al. (1993). Doing Naturalistic Inquiry: A Guide to Methods. Sage Publications. pp. 1–4. ISBN 978-0-8039-4938-6.; Originally published in: Scudder, Samuel H. (April 4, 1874). "Look at your fish". Every Saturday. 16: 369–370.
  31. ^ Shaler, Nathaniel; Shaler, Sophia Penn Page (1909). The Autobiography of Nathaniel Southgate Shaler with a Supplementary Memoir by his Wife. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. pp. 92–99.
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  46. ^ "The World Is Watching: Woman Suing Harvard for Photos of Enslaved Ancestors Says History Is At Stake". Democracy Now!. March 29, 2019. Retrieved March 29, 2019.
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