Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Pickering, Charles (United States 1805-1878)
Pickering is seldom remembered at this point, but
in his earlier years he was regarded as one of America's best trained
and most knowledgeable naturalists. While supporting himself as a physician
in the late 1820s and 1830s he led a double life, investing more and more
of his time in natural history research. A major break came when he was
asked to join the first United States Exploring Expedition in 1838; Pickering
spent the next four years in the Pacific world, keeping meticulous notes
and collecting a treasure of specimens. He followed this adventure with
another one lasting two years in the Old World. He returned to live in
Boston in 1845, spending his remaining days in private research, and again
supporting himself as a physician. Pickering wrote on a range of zoological,
botanical, and ethnographic subjects in his later years. His researches
on introduced species were perhaps his most valuable contribution to geographical
distribution studies: he was part of the discussion (the so-called "Great
Sparrow War") as to whether to introduce the English sparrow to the U.
S., and through his magnum opus Chronological History of
Plants chronicled the diffusion of human populations by keying on
the plant forms they brought along with them and distinguishing these
from native species.
--born near Starucca, Pennsylvania, on 10 November
--1823: A.B., Harvard College
--1825: explores the White Mountains region, New Hampshire
--1826: M.D., Boston Medical College; elected a correspondent of the Academy
of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia
--1827-1837: practicing physician in Philadelphia
--1828-1833: librarian, Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia
--1833-1837: curator, Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia
--1838-1842: chief zoologist, United States Exploring Expedition, Pacific
--1842: temporarily supervises collections of the U.S. Exploring Expedition
--1843-1845: travels through the Mediterranean, Egypt, Red Sea, Zanzibar,
--1845: moves to Boston; begins practicing medicine again
--1848: publishes his The
Races of Man, and Their Geographical Distribution
--1854: publishes his The
Geographical Distribution of Animals and Plants
--1876: publishes his Plants in Their Wild State
--dies at Boston, Massachusetts, on 17 March 1878.
--1879: posthumously publishes his Chronological History of Plants:
Man's Record of His Own Existence Illustrated Through Their Names, Uses,
--Dictionary of American Biography, Vol.
Cyclopaedia of American Biography,
Vol. 13 (1906).
--Biographical Dictionary of American and Canadian Naturalists and
--American National Biography, Vol. 17 (1999).
--The Great United States Exploring Expedition of 1838-1842 (1975).
of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Vol. 13 (1878): 441-444.
Copyright 2005 by Charles H. Smith. All rights
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