Edward Hitchcock

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Edward Hitchcock

Edward Hitchcock (born May 24, 1793 in Deerfield , Massachusetts , † February 27, 1864 in Amherst , Massachusetts, USA) was an American geologist . Its official botanical author abbreviation is " E. Hitchc. ".

Live and act

His father, Justin Hitchcock (1752–1822), wanted him to follow him in his profession as a hatter. At school, however, he showed an interest in science, particularly astronomy . From 1815 to 1818 he was the principal at Deerfield Academy. In this period he published a poem called The Fall of Bonaparte ( The Downfall of Bonaparte ) and the Country Almanac . Under the influence of his wife, the painter Orra White Hitchcock (1796–1863), who was a teacher at his school, he turned to religion.

In 1818 he went to Yale University as a theology student and served as a preacher to the Congregationalists from 1821 to 1825. In 1826 he became a lecturer in geology , chemistry , mineralogy and natural theology at Amherst College . In 1834 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences . From 1830 to 1844 he was a geologist in the service of Massachusetts and carried out the first geological mapping of the state. He later did the same in the service of New York and Vermont . From 1845 to 1854 he was President of Amherst College. As president, he made great contributions to solving the college's financial problems as well as to its equipment and reputation. He is considered one of the founding fathers of American geology. In 1863 he was a founding member of the National Academy of Sciences .

Throughout his life, it was important to him to combine religion and science. His main focus was on the creation story. A quote from his major work Religion of Geology and its Connected Sciences , published in 1851 :

"[Geology ...] proves to us, as does Revelation, that the animal and plant species on this planet were created at a comparatively young time, and that man did not come into existence more than six thousand years ago."
Tree of Life, found in Hitchcock's Elementary Geology 1840

Hitchcock started a large collection (over 20,000 copies) of dinosaur footprints at Amherst College (Hitchcock Ichnological Cabinet), found in Connecticut. He thought they were tracks of large birds.

In his Elementary Geology (first 1840) there is an early tree of life , which he did not understand as an expression of evolution (he believed in divine work in the formation of species) and after the publication of Darwin's main work Origin of Species in 1858 from the new editions of his geology textbook left out.

His son, Edward Hitchcock Jr. (1828–1911) studied medicine at Harvard University . He took part in the geological survey of Vermont (1857–1861) under the direction of his father. He later became a lecturer in hygiene and exercise at Amherst College . He is the lead author of Anatomy and Physiology (New York, 1852). He was also a botanist (botanical abbreviation E. Hitchc. ) And named one of the first dinosaurs found in the USA ( Megadactylus polyzelus , today Anchisaurus polyzelus). Another son Charles Henry Hitchcock (1836-1919) was also a geologist.


  • Religion of Geology and its Connected Sciences (Boston 1851)
  • History of a Zoological Temperance Convention, held in Central Africa in 1847 (Northampton, 1850)
  • The Power of Christian Benevolence illustrated in the Life and Laboratories of Mary Lyon (Northampton, 1852)
  • Religious Truth illustrated from Science (Boston 1857)
  • Elementary Geology (New York, 1860) (with his son Charles Henry Hitchcock)


  • Julie R. Newell, The Hitchcock Family: A Case Study in Patterns of Geological Training and Employment in Antebellum America , Ed. Geological Society of America (GSA)
  • Nancy Pick, Frank Ward Curious Footprints: Professor Hitchcock's Dinosaur Tracks & Other Natural History Treasures , Amherst College Press 2006

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