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Hassler Expedition to South America, 1871–1872

Photographic portraits of Hassler Expedition scientists, from James Henry Blake, Scrapbook of Clippings, Photographs, Cartes–de–Visite Studio Portraits, Manuscripts and Other Materials, 1871–1940, Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University

Photographic portraits of Hassler Expedition scientists. From James Henry Blake, Scrapbook of Clippings, Photographs, Cartes–de–Visite Studio Portraits, Manuscripts and Other Materials, 1871–1940, Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University.

Louis Agassiz, an influential Harvard professor and founder of the University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, was invited by Superintendent of the Survey Benjamin Pierce to lead a deep-sea dredging expedition to South America aboard the US Coast Survey Steamer Hassler. The Hassler circumnavigated South America and visited, among other locations, the Galapagos Islands. Agassiz investigated evidence for Darwin’s theory of evolution, collected deep-sea specimens to analyze their relation to the fossil forms of earlier eras, and observed the glaciers and moraines of the southern Andes. Count L. F. Pourtalès directed the dredging operations, Franz Steindachner oversaw specimen collection, former Harvard President Thomas Hill served as a physicist, and J. H. Blake served as artist, documenting the expedition. Elizabeth Cary Agassiz accompanied her husband on the trip and published her account of the expedition in newspapers.

Expeditions and Discoveries Resources on the Hassler Expedition

Selected Manuscripts and Records in Expeditions and Discoveries

Agassiz, Louis. Correspondence: And Other Papers, 1821–1877. (MS Am 1419) Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
J. H. Blake. Hassler Journal, 1871–1872. Spec. Coll. Archives sMu 326.41.1. Ernst Mayr Library, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
J. H. Blake. Hassler Expedition Watercolors and Pencil Drawings, Chiefly of Fish, with Several Mollusks and Marine Invertebrates, 1871–1872. Spec. Coll. Archives bMu 326.60.3. Ernst Mayr Library, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
J. H. Blake. Notes on Louis Agassiz’s Lectures on Board the Steamer Hassler, 1871–1872. Spec. Coll. Archives sMu 326.42.2. Ernst Mayr Library, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
J. H. Blake. Scrapbook of Clippings, Photographs, Cartes-de-Visite Studio Portraits, Manuscripts and Other Materials. Spec. Coll. Archives sMu 326.43.1. Ernst Mayr Library, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

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Selected Publications

Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary. Narrative of the Voyage of the Hassler in the Form of Letters Written on Board by Mrs. Agassiz and Published in the Boston Transcript and the New York Tribune, 1871–1872. Spec. Coll. MCZ 023. Ernst Mayr Library, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
Greenwood, George. The Hassler Expedition. Museum Comp Zoology Zool.Misc.65. Ernst Mayr Library, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Hassler Expedition Resources at Other Sites

Biodiversity Heritage Library

Many of the official scientific reports of the Hassler Expedition were published in The Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, the Memoirs of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, and the Illustrated Catalogue of the Museum of Comparative Zoology. These serials are currently being digitized by the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

Museum of Comparative Zoology Collections Database

Includes specimen records for some of the Hassler collections.

References

The following sources were used in writing this page.

Agassiz, Elizabeth Cary. Louis Agassiz: His Life and Correspondence. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1888.
Dobbs, David. Reef Madness: Charles Darwin, Alexander Agassiz, and the Meaning of Coral. New York: Pantheon, 2005.
Gould, Stephen Jay. "This View of Life." Natural History. 90: 12 (Dec. 1981), p. 7–10.
Lurie, Edward. Louis Agassiz: A Life in Science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960.
Lurie, Edward. Nature and the American Mind: Louis Agassiz and the Culture of Science. New York: Science History, 1974.
Marcou, Jules. Life, Letters, and Works of Louis Agassiz. New York: Macmillan, 1896.

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