Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Chrono-Biographical Sketches

Pickering, Charles (United States 1805-1878)
natural history

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.

Life Chronology

--born near Starucca, Pennsylvania, on 10 November 1805.
--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 Ocean
--1842: temporarily supervises collections of the U.S. Exploring Expedition
--1843-1845: travels through the Mediterranean, Egypt, Red Sea, Zanzibar, and India
--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, and Companionship

For Additional Information, See:

--Dictionary of American Biography, Vol. 14 (1934).
--National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 13 (1906).
--Biographical Dictionary of American and Canadian Naturalists and Environmentalists (1997).
--American National Biography, Vol. 17 (1999).
--The Great United States Exploring Expedition of 1838-1842 (1975).
--Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Vol. 13 (1878): 441-444.

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Copyright 2005 by Charles H. Smith. All rights reserved.

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