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Andrews, Roy Chapman (26 January 1884–11 March 1960), explorer and zoologist, was born in Beloit, Wisconsin, the son of Charles Ezra Andrews, a wholesale druggist, and Cora May Chapman. As a young boy Andrews resolved “to be an explorer, to work in a natural history museum, and to live out of doors” ( ...

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Burden, William Douglas (24 September 1898–14 November 1978), naturalist and explorer, was born in Troy, New York, the son of James Abercrombie Burden, an iron manufacturer, and Florence Adele Sloane. Burden received his A.B. in 1922 from Harvard College. He received his M.A. (in geology) in 1926 from Columbia University. After graduating from Harvard he traveled in the Orient studying oriental civilizations and collecting specimens of local fauna for the American Museum of Natural History....

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Castiglioni, Luigi (03 October 1757–22 April 1832), naturalist, author, and politician, was born in Milan, Italy, the son of Count Ottavio Castiglioni and Teresa Verri, both of distinguished families. In childhood, after the death of his father, Castiglioni and his older brother, Alfonso, were adopted by their mother’s brother, Pietro Verri, whose political ideas and writings placed him and his brother, Alessandro, among the central figures of the Italian Enlightenment. Although Verri provided his nephews with material comfort and intellectual guidance, their relationship was sometimes contentious....

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Darton, Nelson Horatio (17 December 1865–28 February 1948), geological mapper, groundwater specialist, and bibliographer, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of William Darton, Jr., a shipbuilder and civil engineer, and Caroline Matilda Thayer. Darton was a self-trained geologist who dropped out of public school before the age of thirteen to apprentice as a chemist in his uncle’s business. He became a member of the American Chemical Society at age sixteen and shortly thereafter started his own business, selling distilled water. As a practical chemist he became interested in minerals and collected in New Jersey. By age seventeen, Darton had spoken before the New York Academy of Sciences and published his first paper. The conclusion he derived from fieldwork was that some of the rock strata in eastern New Jersey were ancient lava flows, a new concept at that time, but one that was immediately accepted....

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Eklund, Carl Robert (27 January 1909–04 November 1962), scientist and antarctic explorer, was born in Tomahawk, Wisconsin, the son of John Eklund, a carpenter, and Maria Olson. Both his parents were immigrants from Sweden. Eklund was an outstanding football and basketball player at Tomahawk High School. Later he starred in football at Carleton College in Minnesota, from which he graduated in 1932. Carleton’s Dr. ...

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Evans, Lewis (1700–11 June 1756), cartographer and geologist, was born in Llangwnadl, Carnarvonshire, Wales. His background and details of his personal life are not known. The earliest American record of him dates from 1736, when he was a surveyor and mapmaker in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He often bought books from ...

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Freeman, Thomas (?–08 November 1821), surveyor, civil engineer, and explorer, was born in Ireland and immigrated in 1784 to America. Nothing is known of his parents, early life, or formal training, but he apparently had a background in the sciences. He may have acquired employment at Plymouth, Massachusetts, as an inspector and surveyor. In 1794 ...

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Gould, Laurence McKinley (22 August 1896–21 June 1995), educator, geologist, and explorer, was born in Lacota, Michigan, the son of Herbert Gould and Anna Updike, farmers. In 1914 he left the family farm and moved to Boca Raton, Florida, where he taught in a one-room schoolhouse. He also helped to found a Sunday school class and with his students published the ...

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Hall, Basil (31 December 1788–11 September 1844), captain in the British navy and author of scientific works and books of travel, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, the son of Sir James Hall, a geologist of repute who published on a variety of other subjects as well, including architecture, and Helen Douglas. After a basic education in Edinburgh, Basil at age fourteen joined the Royal Navy and set out on the first of many voyages. By age twenty he was made lieutenant and at twenty-nine was a captain....

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Harriot, Thomas (1560–02 July 1621), scientist, linguist, and author of the first English book on North America, was born in Oxford (city or county), England; his parentage is unknown. As an undergraduate he entered St. Mary’s Hall (attached to Oriel College, Oxford) in 1576, matriculated in the University of Oxford in 1557, and graduated B.A. in 1580. He never married....

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Angelo Helprin Center, on the approach to Pelée, Martinique; from a stereograph. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-102313).

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Heilprin, Angelo (31 March 1853–17 July 1907), geologist and explorer, was born in Satoralja-Ujhely, Hungary, the son of Michael Heilprin, a scholar and encyclopedist, and Henrietta Silver. His father was originally from Russian Poland. In 1856 Heilprin and his family immigrated to the United States, searching for the freedom that had evaded them in both Poland and Hungary. He grew up in New York City and attended the public schools of Brooklyn and Yonkers. At the age of fourteen he entered a hardware concern in New York City in conjunction with his younger brother Louis. He worked there for several years, but he had already decided to become a naturalist and enthusiastically pursued the opportunity to write articles for the ...

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Hill, Robert Thomas (11 August 1858–28 July 1941), geologist and explorer, was born in Nashville, Tennessee; details of the lives of his parents are not known. Hill was born into a family of eight children just before the Civil War. He was orphaned at the age of five, raised by his grandmother in the war-torn city. He began work when very young, helping to support his family; at the age of sixteen, he finally completed the sixth grade. An older brother invited him to come to Comanche, Texas, 100 miles from the nearest railroad, and the youth eventually arrived there in 1874, penniless....

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Josselyn, John (fl. 1630–1675), travel writer and naturalist, was born in Willingale-Doe (probably at Torrell’s Hall), Essex, England, the son of Sir Thomas Josselyn, a gentleman landholder, and Theodora Cooke Bere of Kent. Josselyn’s formal education is unknown, though one may well infer from his writings easy familiarity with the classics and English poets as well as extensive knowledge of medicine, botany, and natural history. It is likely that the young Josselyn accompanied his family in their move to the Isle of Ely sometime in the period 1614–1618 when financial reverses forced Sir Thomas’s sale of Torrell’s Hall. This decline in fortune was followed by others that resulted in the loss of most if not all of the family estate....

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Keating, William Hypolitus (11 August 1799–17 May 1840), scientist, explorer, and lawyer, was born in Wilmington, Delaware, to Baron John Keating, a colonel in the Irish Brigade of the French army, and Eulalia Deschapelles. Keating’s father settled initially in Delaware after resigning his commission. The family moved to Philadelphia, and Keating entered the University of Pennsylvania in 1813, receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1816. His interest in mineralogy and mining took him to Europe for five years, where he studied at the Paris School of Mines and visited mines in various countries. He returned to the United States and summarized his studies in a monograph, ...

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Keith, Arthur (30 September 1864–07 February 1944), structural geologist and geologic mapper, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Harrison Alonzo Keith, a high school principal and city administrator, and Mary Elizabeth Richardson. Keith grew up in Quincy, Massachusetts, attended Harvard University, and, after graduating in 1885, investigated the local geology around his hometown. In connection with graduate work at Harvard, for which he received an A.M., he mapped for the Massachusetts Topographic Survey in 1886. In June 1887 Keith joined the U.S. Geological Survey as a field assistant to ...

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Kennicott, Robert (13 November 1835–13 May 1866), naturalist and explorer, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of John Albert Kennicott and Mary Shutts Ransom. The second of seven children, Kennicott was raised in a beautiful prairie grove eighteen miles northwest of Chicago. His father, a physician and educator as well as an enthusiastic amateur botanist, had moved the family to West Northfield (now Glenview), Illinois, in 1836. The Kennicott estate, known simply as “The Grove,” was the perfect setting for a would-be naturalist, encompassing as it did a variety of rich and varied ecosystems. Robert was frail and often in ill health as a youth and as a consequence never attended school regularly. John Kennicott arranged for an Oxford-trained tutor to supplement his children’s education, but he was their most important teacher. He encouraged frail Robert in particular to spend time outdoors studying nature, and by age fifteen Kennicott was experimenting with the effects of massasauga rattlesnake venom on a variety of animals. In addition to quite a menagerie of live animals, Kennicott had also begun to make collections of bird skins, eggs, insects, and snakes. In 1853 his father arranged for him to study with the leading naturalist of the Midwest, ...

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Lesley, J. Peter (07 September 1819–01 June 1903), geologist and topographer, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Peter Lesley, a cabinetmaker, and Elizabeth Oswald Allen. He was christened Peter Lesley but adopted the initial J. to avoid confusion with his father. Lesley graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1838, planning to enter the Princeton Theological Seminary to prepare for a career as a Presbyterian minister. Poor health delayed his plans, and in an effort to rebuild his health through vigorous outdoor life he joined the first state geological survey of Pennsylvania under ...

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Lincecum, Gideon (22 April 1793–28 November 1874), naturalist and frontiersman, was born in Hancock County, Georgia, the son of Hezekiah Lincecum and Sally Hickman, farmers. Because of his family’s frequent moves along the frontier in Georgia and South Carolina, Gideon completed only five months of formal schooling. He read avidly, however, from volumes he earned by selling books for ...

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Mullan, John (31 July 1830–28 December 1909), army explorer, road builder, and lawyer, was born in Norfolk, Virginia, the son of John Mullan, a civil servant, and Mary Bright. The eldest of ten children, Mullan grew up in Annapolis, Maryland, where his father was postmaster at the U.S. Naval Academy. He received his education, beginning at the age of nine, at St. John’s College in Annapolis, from which he received a B.A. in 1847 and an M.A. in 1855. Family tradition holds that Mullan sought a personal interview with President ...