The United States

After Agassiz published his Nomenclatur Zoologicus (Zoological Nomenclature), he gained the financial aid of the King of Prussia to cross the Atlantic. His purpose was to study the geology of the United States and deliver a series of lectures: “The Plan of Creation as shown in the Animal Kingdom”. This was initiated by preeminent businessman and philanthropist J.A. Lowell, who invited him to the Lowell Institute, a recognized educational foundation that provides both free public lectures and advanced lectures for those more academically inclined.

His work at the Lowell Institute was antecedent to the establishment of the Lawrence Scientific School in 1847 which chose him as its head. He was appointed a professor of zoology and geology and over his tenure, he founded the Museum of Comparative Zoology, which he led until his death. During this time, he was an exemplary acolyte of North American glacial history.

In the United States, Agassiz published several influential works. Among these were “Lake Superior”, “Contributions to the Natural History of the United States”, and “Essay on Classification”. “Lake Superior” described the physical characteristics, ecology, vegetation, and wildlife of the area and compared it to other similar areas such as the other Great Lakes. “Contributions to the Natural History of the United States” was released in four quarto volumes and the most notable described the embryology of turtles. While the last one was a great publication, Agassiz’s refusal to move towards the theory of evolution marked his failure to grasp the path that zoology had embarked upon.