Arnold Guyot Collection

Mss.B.G98

Date: 1857-1882 | Size: 0.25 Linear feet

Abstract

One of the most prominent scientific refugees from the political turmoil of 1848, Arnold Guyot made fundamental contributions to the study of geology, glaciology, and meteorology on two continents. After emigrating to the United States, Guyot established himself as Professor of Geology and Physical Geography at Princeton, remaining untilhis death in 1884.

The Guyot Collection consists of 61 letters written by Louis Agassiz (15 items), his wife Elizabeth (32), and their son Alexander (14), to their friend and fellow naturalist, Arnold Guyot. Primarily personal in nature, the letters reflect a long and intimate friendship, making frequent mention of family and mutual friends. There is, however, comparatively little in the collection relating to their respective scientific endeavors, with only a few references to the situation at the Museum of Comparative Zoology and at Princeton, to publications of various sorts, to the difficulties of their mutual friend Leo Lesquereux, and to other colleagues.

Background note

One of the most prominent scientific refugees from the political turmoil of 1848, Arnold Guyot made fundamental contributions to the study of geology, glaciology, and meteorology on two continents. Born at Boudevilliers, Switzerland, in 1807, Guyot began his studies at the College of Neuchatel, where, like his classmate Leo Lesquereux (later a prominent paleobotanist), he originally intended for the ministry. After two years studying the classics in Germany and a two year course in theology at Neuchatel, he enrolled at the University of Berlin in 1829 to complete his path to the pulpit.

Yet in Berlin, Guyot's interests began to shift away from theology, if not from religion. Under the influence of friends like Louis Agassiz and the excitement of lectures he attended on philosophy and natural history, Guyot decided instead to pursue a doctorate in the sciences, writing a dissertation on "The Natural Classification of Lakes" (PhD, 1835) under the eminent geographer Carl Ritter. Throughout his stay in Berlin, and during the five years that followed, when he worked as a private tutor in Paris, Guyot traveled widely on naturalizing tours, collecting shells and rocks, making observations and scientific colleagues.

In 1838, Guyot took up the challenge of testing the theory of his friend Louis Agassiz that northern Europe had formerly been covered by glaciers, and although Agassiz took much of the credit for the results, Guyot won an invitation to return to join the faculty at Neuchatel to teach physical geography and history. Guyot became the first to describe the differential rate of flow within an ice sheet, to demonstrate that glacial flow occurred by molecular displacement rather than sliding of the entire ice mass, and the first, as well, to discuss the importance of the laminated structure of glacial ice.

When the Grand Revolutionary Council of Geneva closed the College in 1848, however, Guyot found himself without a job. During the summer, he (like Lesquereux) followed Agassiz to the comparative calm of the United States, and within a year, he published his first work in English. Based on a series of lectures he had delivered at the Lowell Institute, The Earth and Man (1849) was an instant success, drawing connections between physical environment and human society and character, and earning him a position with the Massachusetts Board of Education as a lecturer on geography and pedagogy.

Lured to Princeton in 1854, Guyot was appointed Professor of Geology and Physical Geography, a position he held for over three decades. Although he continued to do field work in physical geography for several years, his research shifted gradually toward meteorology. In his best known work, he made an extensive series of barometric measurements in the Appalachians to estimate elevation, and he helped establish a national system for weather monitoring, outfitting meteorological observation stations for the network being built by Joseph Henry of the Smithsonian. His Collection of Meteorological Tables, with Other Tables Useful in Practical Meteorology (Washington, 1852) became a standard in the field. He is remembered, as well, as an outstanding teacher, often bringing students into the field with him to learn basic skills, and as the key figure in building the Elizabeth Marsh Museum at Princeton into one of the nation's finest.

An evangelical Presbyterian, Guyot was also a key figure in the characteristically Princeton effort to reconcile religion and science during the 1870s and 1880s. His "Cosmogony and the Bible" (1874) and Creation, or the Biblical Cosmogony in the Light of Modern Science (1884) were sincere, and widely popular, efforts to proclaim that modern science supported, rather than undermined faith. His claimed, generally, that both the books of nature and scripture were complementary, having originated in the same author, and although he insisted that nature was divinely ordered, it was nevertheless bound by natural law. Although he was never warm to Darwinian natural selection, he even admitted that natural evolution of a limited sort was possible, stating that only three divine interventions were necessary to explain the natural world: the special creation of matter, life, and humanity.

Between 1861 and 1866, Guyot lectured at Princeton Theological Seminary on revealed religion, physical science, and ethnology, and he gave occasional courses at Union Theological Seminary in New York. Guyot remained at Princeton until his death in 1884.

Scope and content

The Guyot Collection consists of 61 letters written by Louis Agassiz (15 items), his wife Elizabeth (32), and their son Alexander (14), to their friend and fellow naturalist, Arnold Guyot. Primarily personal in nature, the letters reflect a long and intimate friendship, making frequent mention of family and mutual friends. There is, however, comparatively little in the collection relating to their respective scientific endeavors, with only a few references to the situation at the Museum of Comparative Zoology and at Princeton, to publications of various sorts, to the difficulties of their mutual friend Leo Lesquereux, and to other colleagues.

Letters from both Louis and Alexander are written in French, while Elizabeth's are in English.

Collection Information

Provenance

Acquired from Charles Hamilton, March 25, 1971, and subsequent (accn. no. 1971-386ms and 1977-1281ms).

Preferred citation

Cite as: Arnold Guyot Collection, American Philosophical Society.

Processing information

Recatalogued by rsc, 2004.

Related material

The main body of Guyot's papers reside in the Manuscripts Division of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University, with a second smaller cache at the Historical Society of Princeton.

Bibliography

Guyot, A., The Earth and Man (Boston, 1849) Call no.: 551 G99e

Guyot, A., Collection of Meteorological Tables, with Other Tables Useful in Practical Meteorology (Washington, 1852) Call no.: 551.507 Sm6d, 1850

Indexing Terms


Corporate Name(s)

  • Museum of Comparative Zoology

Personal Name(s)

  • Agassiz, Alexander, 1835-1910
  • Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, 1822-1907
  • Agassiz, Louis, 1807-1873
  • Guyot, A. (Arnold), 1807-1884
  • Lesquereux, Leo, 1806-1889
  • Scudder, Samuel Hubbard, 1837-1911

Subject(s)

  • Geology
  • Paleobotany
  • Paleontology


Detailed Inventory

Arnold Guyot Collection
1857-18820.25 lin. feetbox 1
Agassiz, Louis, 1807-1873.
to Arnold Guyot
1857 Dec. 11 
Agassiz, Alexander, 1835-1910.
to Arnold Guyot
1858 May 27 
Agassiz, Louis, 1807-1873.
to Arnold Guyot
1859 June 3 
Agassiz, Louis, 1807-1873.
to Arnold Guyot
1860 Oct. 3 
Agassiz, Louis, 1807-1873.
to Arnold Guyot
1861 Feb. 28 
Agassiz, Louis, 1807-1873.
to Arnold Guyot
1862 June 12 

Regarding projects for their friend Lesquereux.

Agassiz, Louis, 1807-1873.
to Arnold Guyot
1862 Sept. 2 

No hope of getting Lesquereux to the Museum at Cambridge, since the Museum has no funds.

Agassiz, Louis, 1807-1873.
to Arnold Guyot
1863 Sept. 23 
Agassiz, Alexander, 1835-1910.
to Arnold Guyot
1865 Nov. 6 
Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, 1822-1907.
to Arnold Guyot
1867 June 18 
Agassiz, Louis, 1807-1873.
to Arnold Guyot
1867 June 18 
Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, 1822-1907.
to Arnold Guyot
1867 June 27 
Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, 1822-1907.
to Arnold Guyot
1867 Dec. 27 

Death of Agassiz's mother.

Agassiz, Louis, 1807-1873.
to Arnold Guyot
1869 Feb. 19 
Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, 1822-1907.
to Arnold Guyot
1869 May 18 

D. A. Brown has misused Agassiz's letters of recommendationin Brazil, causing hard feelings.

Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, 1822-1907.
to Arnold Guyot
1869 July 6 
Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, 1822-1907.
to Arnold Guyot
1870 Jan. 20 
Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, 1822-1907.
to Arnold Guyot
1870 May 26 
Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, 1822-1907.
to Arnold Guyot
1871 Apr. 5 
Agassiz, Louis, 1807-1873.
to Arnold Guyot
1871 Sept. 8 
Agassiz, Louis, 1807-1873.
to Arnold Guyot
1872 Nov. 8 
Agassiz, Louis, 1807-1873.
to Arnold Guyot
1872 Dec. 31 

Scudder's work is passably good. Museum of Comparative Zoology.

Agassiz, Alexander, 1835-1910.
to Arnold Guyot
1873 Apr. 24 
Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, 1822-1907.
to Arnold Guyot
1873 May 24 
Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, 1822-1907.
to Arnold Guyot
1873 June 8 
Agassiz, Alexander, 1835-1910.
to Arnold Guyot
1873 June 9 
Agassiz, Louis, 1807-1873.
to Arnold Guyot
1873 June 9 

Agassiz occupied with his naturalists' school.

Agassiz, Louis, 1807-1873.
to Arnold Guyot
1873 July 9 
Agassiz, Louis, 1807-1873.
to Arnold Guyot
1873 July 14 
Guyot, A. (Arnold), 1807-1884.
to Edward Seymour
1874 Feb. 19 

Will begin on a new edition of Earth and Man if Seymour can get rights.

Guyot, A. (Arnold), 1807-1884.
to Edward Seymour
1874 Feb. 27 
Agassiz, Alexander, 1835-1910.
to Arnold Guyot
1874 May 5 
Agassiz, Alexander, 1835-1910.
to Arnold Guyot
1874 Aug. 7 
Agassiz, Alexander, 1835-1910.
to Arnold Guyot
1875 Apr. 2 
Agassiz, Alexander, 1835-1910.
to Arnold Guyot
1875 July 29 
Agassiz, Alexander, 1835-1910.
to Arnold Guyot
1875 Nov. 5 
Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, 1822-1907.
to Arnold Guyot
1875 Nov. 5 
Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, 1822-1907.
to Arnold Guyot
1877 Mar. 12 

Auguste Agassiz has died.

Agassiz, Alexander, 1835-1910.
to Arnold Guyot
1877 June 1 
Agassiz, Alexander, 1835-1910.
to Arnold Guyot
1877 Oct. 20 

Requests his comments on her biographical work on Agassiz.

Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, 1822-1907.
to Arnold Guyot
1877 Oct. 25 
Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, 1822-1907.
to Arnold Guyot
1877 Oct. 26 
Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, 1822-1907.
to Arnold Guyot
1877 Nov. 2 
Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, 1822-1907.
to Arnold Guyot
1878 Jan. 24 
Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, 1822-1907.
to Arnold Guyot
1878 Mar. 16 
Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, 1822-1907.
to Arnold Guyot
1880 June 23 
Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, 1822-1907.
to Arnold Guyot
1880 July 17 
Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, 1822-1907.
to Arnold Guyot
1881 Mar. 31 
Agassiz, Alexander, 1835-1910.
to Arnold Guyot
1882 Mar. 3 
Agassiz, Alexander, 1835-1910.
to Arnold Guyot
1882 Mar. 5 
Agassiz, Alexander, 1835-1910.
to Arnold Guyot
1882 Apr. 21 
Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, 1822-1907.
to Arnold Guyot
n.d. (Jan. 31) 
Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, 1822-1907.
to Arnold Guyot
n.d. (Mar. 23) 
Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, 1822-1907.
to Arnold Guyot
n.d. (Mar. 29) 
Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, 1822-1907.
to Arnold Guyot
n.d. (Apr. 15) 

Louis is improving from congestive

Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, 1822-1907.
to Arnold Guyot
n.d. (May 19) 
Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, 1822-1907.
to Arnold Guyot
n.d. (June 10) 
Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, 1822-1907.
to Arnold Guyot
n.d. (June 7) 
Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, 1822-1907.
to Arnold Guyot
n.d. (July 18) 
Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, 1822-1907.
to Arnold Guyot
n.d. (July 22) 
Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, 1822-1907.
to Arnold Guyot
n.d. (Aug. 30) 
Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, 1822-1907.
to Arnold Guyot
n.d. (Nov. 29) 
Agassiz, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, 1822-1907.
to Arnold Guyot
n.d.