<< 1820-1829
1840-1849 >>
Date Event Subjects
1830 A Depot of Charts and Instruments was formed in the U.S. Navy, with Lieutenant L.M. Goldsborough in charge, and with the intent to supply navigational materials to the naval fleet. Goldsborough was succeeded in 1833 by Lieutenant Charles Wilkes (1798-1877) who in turn was succeeded (in 1836) by James M. Gilliss (1811-1865), and in carrying out its mission the Depot established an observatory. In an act of August 31, 1842, money was appropriated for a building that established the Naval Observatory in all but name. When Matthew Fontaine Maury (1806-1873) took over the Depot in 1842, he diverted the work away from astronomy and toward oceanography and meteorology; Maury remained in charge until 1861. [0153] Government—Federal / Astronomy
1830 (February 9) The Boston Society of Natural History was established; it was incorporated in 1831. [0154] Organizations—Societies and Associations / Natural History
1830-1831 Benjamin Silliman (1779-1864) published Elements of Chemistry (New Haven, Conn.), in two volumes. [0155] Chemistry
1830-1834 Thomas Say (1787-1834) published American Conchology (New Harmony, Ind.) in six volumes. A seventh volume was published posthumously in 1838 by Timothy A. Conrad (1803-1877). In 1858, William G. Binney (1833-1909) edited Complete Writings of Thomas Say on the Conchology of the United States (New York). [0156] Zoology / Conchology and Malacology
1830-1870 During this period, the most widespread teaching of science at the secondary level was in chemistry, natural Philosophy, and astronomy. Of the natural history subjects, botany was most common. [0157] General or Miscellaneous / Education in science
1830-1880 George P. Merrill, in his The First Hundred Years of American Geology called these years in geology the "Era of State Surveys." [0158] General or Miscellaneous / Geology
1831 Chloroform was discovered by Samuel Guthrie (1782-1848). [0159] Chemistry
1831 William C. Redfield (1789-1857) published "Remarks on the Prevailing Storms of the Atlantic Coast of the North American States," American Journal of Science 20:17-51. The paper included his important theory on storms, that the winds blow counterclockwise about a center moving in the direction of prevailing winds. Redfield had begun to formulate his idea a decade earlier, with the observation of tree damage in Massachusetts and Connecticut from a hurricane on 3 September 1821. [0160] Meteorology and Climatology
1831 Joseph Henry (1797-1878) discovered that changes in magnetic fields induce electricity. Henry made this discovery of electromagnetic induction prior to and independently of Michael Faraday. Faraday, however, won credit because he was the first to publish. [0161] Physics / Electricity and Electronics
1831 (July) George William Featherstonhaugh (1780-1866) began issuance of Monthly American Journal of Geology and Natural Science. Only one volume was published. [0162] Periodicals and Publishing / Geology
1831 (July) The earliest version of Cyrus McCormick's (1809-1884) grain reaper was shown. McCormick took a patent on the horse-drawn reaper in 1834. [0163] Technology and Invention
1831-1866 During this period, the Topographical Engineers existed as a separate unit of the U.S. Army. (In 1838, the Corps of Engineers was assigned defense fortification, while the Topographical Bureau took on responsibility for civil projects.) The termination of separate status for the Topographical Engineers in 1866 is an indication of the waning role of the Army in surveying and exploration. [0164] Government—Federal / Exploration and Surveying
1832 The U.S. Coast Survey, inactive since 1818, was reauthorized by Congress, under the terms of the law of 1807. Ferdinand R. Hassler (1770-1843) again took charge of the Survey. Aimed at the unpopular and failed attempts of former President John Quincy Adams, the legislation prohibited the establishment of a permanent astronomical observatory. [0165] Government—Federal / Geophysics and Geodesy
1832 Jacob Green (1790-1841) published Monograph of the Trilobites of North America (Philadelphia). [0166] Paleontology
1832 Robley Dunglison (1798-1869) published the two-volume work, Human Physiology (Philadelphia), which had an eighth edition in 1856. [0167] Zoology—Human / Physiology
1832 (July 13) The source of the Mississippi River at Lake Itasca, Minnesota, was found by an exploring party led by Henry R. Schoolcraft (1793-1864). [0168] Exploration and Surveying
1832 and 1834 Thomas Nuttall (1786-1859) published A Manual of the Ornithology of the United States and Canada: The Land Birds (Cambridge, Mass., 1832) and A Manual of the Ornithology of the United States and Canada: The Water Birds (Boston, Mass., 1834). [0169] Zoology / Ornithology
1832-1835 Charles U. Shepard (1804-1886) published A Treatise on Mineralogy (New Haven, Conn., 1832, 1835). [0170] Mineralogy and Crystallography
1832-1861 Timothy Abbott Conrad (1803-1877) published three significant paleontological works during this period: Fossil Shells of the Tertiary Formations of North America (Philadelphia, 1832-1835); Eocene Fossils of Claiborne, With Observations on This Formation in the United States, and Geological Map of Alabama (Philadelphia, 1835); and Fossils of the Medial Tertiary of the United States (Philadelphia, 1838-1861). Conrad made an early American case for the use of organic remains in dating geological strata, views which he presented in "Observations on the Tertiary Strata of the Atlantic Coast," American Journal of Science, vol. 28 (1835):104-111, 280-282. [0171] Paleontology
1833 Almira Hart Lincoln Phelps (1793-1884) published a popular Botany for Beginners (Hartford, Conn.). It had numerous editions and by 1867 had sold some 270,000 copies. [0172] Botany
1833 As state geologist since 1830, Edward Hitchcock (1793-1864) published the final report, Geology of Massachusetts (Amherst). [0173] Geology
1834 Thomas Nuttall (1786-1859), as a member of Nathaniel Jarvis Wyeth's expedition to Oregon, was the earliest accomplished and informed botanist to carry out collecting and study across the continent. [0174] Botany / Exploration and Surveying
1834 George William Featherstonhaugh (1780-1866) became the first geologist in the employ of the United States government; he was engaged to examine the mineralogy and geology of the Ozark Mountains and later (1835) the Green Bay, Wisconsin area. [0175] Government—Federal / Geology
1834 Samuel Luther Dana (1795-1868) began work for the Merrimac Print Works to improve their bleaching and dyeing operations. He remained in their employ until 1868. [0176] Organizations—Industry / Chemistry
1834 Samuel George Morton (1799-1851) published on the fossils collected by the Lewis and Clark expedition in Synopsis of the Organic Remains of the Cretaceous Group of the United States (Philadelphia). [0177] Paleontology
1835 The first degrees in civil engineering in the country were awarded by Rensselaer Institute. [0178] Organizations—Academic / Engineering and Applied Science
1835 The Western Academy of Natural Sciences was established at Cincinnati. [0179] Organizations—Societies and Associations
mid-1830s to mid-1880s These years were the highpoint for amateur botany in the United States. [0180] General or Miscellaneous / Botany
1836 Asa Gray (1810-1888) published Elements of Botany (New York). The work was a significant departure from earlier textbooks; it was up-to-date on morphological and physiological aspects, and it promoted natural (as opposed to the Linnaean) classification. In 1842, Gray produced The Botanical Text-Book for Colleges, Schools and Private Students (New York) as a successor to the Elements. [0181] Botany
1836 Alexander Dallas Bache's (1806-1867) report on studies of steam boiler explosions, conducted in association with the Franklin Institute and published in its Journal (new series volume 17), represented an early example of government interest in the practical issues of scientific investigation. The research was carried out at the request of the U.S. Treasury Department by a committee of the Franklin Institute, chaired by Bache. [0182] Government—Federal / Physics
1836 The Commissioner of Patents was established as a permanent office with staff. The legislation also required that inventions be tested for novelty and usefulness. Henry L. Ellsworth (1791-1858) was the first commissioner. [0183] Government—Federal / Technology and Invention
1836 The Natural History Survey of New York was established by the legislature and continued until 1843. Among the principals involved were Timothy A. Conrad (1803-1877), Ebenezer Emmons (1799-1863), James Hall, Jr. (1811-1898), William Williams Mather (1804-1859), and Lardner Vanuxem (1792-1848). The reports were issued between 1842 and 1894 though most appeared before about 1855. Those delayed were especially James Hall's reports on Paleontology. One important change introduced by the Survey was to redirect American geologists away from a concern with correlations to English strata and toward the development of an American geological column. [0184] Government—State / Geology, Natural History
1836 Samuel Colt (1814-1862) patented the revolver named for him. [0185] Technology and Invention
1836 Isaac Lea (1792-1886) published Synopsis of the Family of Naiades (Philadelphia and London), which helped to bring order to the mollusks Unionidae. A fourth edition appeared in 1870. [0186] Zoology / Conchology and Malacology
1836 Charles Thomas Jackson (1805-1880) gave up the practice of medicine in 1836. He set up in Boston a laboratory for chemical analysis and it became one of the first instructional facilities of its kind in the country. About the same time, James Curtis Booth (1810-1888), returning from scientific study in Germany, established a student chemistry laboratory in Philadelphia. [0187] General or Miscellaneous / Education in science, Chemistry
1837 The Indiana Geological Survey was established and David Dale Owen (1807-1860) was appointed as state geologist. [0188] Government—State / Geology
1837 The Massachusetts legislature authorized a geological and natural history survey of the state. [0189] Government—State / Geology, Natural History
1837 James Dwight Dana (1813-1895) published A System of Mineralogy (New Haven), which became a leading textbook. In his edition of 1844, Dana added a classification by chemical features, and in the 3rd edition of 1850 he went fully with the chemical arrangement rather than the original scheme modeled on natural history that drew upon physical characteristics. [0190] Mineralogy and Crystallography
1837 Sears C. Walker (1805-1853) established an observatory associated with Central High School, Philadelphia. [0191] Organizations—Observatories / Astronomy
1837 Samuel F.B. Morse (1791-1872) patented his ideas for a telegraph. Joseph Henry (1797-1878), who advised Morse, had worked out the basic concepts for a telegraph in 1835. [0192] Technology and Invention / Electricity and Electronics
1837-1840 The earliest geological survey of Ohio was conducted under the direction of William Williams Mather (1804-1859). [0193] Government—State / Geology
1838 The first permanent astronomical observatory in the country was established by Professor Albert Hopkins (1807-1872) at Williams College. [0194] Organizations—Academic / Astronomy
1838 The American Philosophical Society initiated publication of its Proceedings. [0195] Periodicals and Publishing
1838 (August)-1842 (June) The United States Exploring Expedition, with six ships, was carried out under the command of Lieutenant Charles Wilkes (1798-1877). Authorization for the Expedition was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson on May 14, 1836 and the overall cost of the enterprise reached more than $900,000. The Expedition covered some 85,000 miles, carrying out scientific study and collecting in Latin America, Antarctica, the islands of the central Pacific, and the northwestern coast of North America. A portion of the Antarctic continent came to be called Wilkes Land. Wilkes published a report on the Expedition in 1844 and other reports were done by the scientific staff and by a number of scientists over a period of some thirty years. Some planned volumes never were realized. [0196] Government—Federal / Exploration and Surveying
1838-1843 Asa Gray (1810-1888) and John Torrey (1796-1873) published the uncompleted Flora of North America (New York), in two volumes. The work helped replace the Linnaean with a natural classification for American botany and established the use of type specimens in the taxonomy of American plants. [0197] Botany
1839 Robert Hare (1781-1858) was awarded the first Rumford Medal by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences for his 1801 invention of the oxyhydrogen blowpipe. The prize had been established in 1796 by Count Rumford. [0198] Awards and Prizes / Chemistry
1839 The Patent Office was given $1,000 by Congress for the purposes of collecting agricultural statistics. This was the first time the federal government gave funds earmarked for agricultural purposes. [0199] Government—Federal / Agriculture
1839 The Lowell Institute lectures in Boston were initiated with a series of twelve lectures on geology by Benjamin Silliman, Sr. (1779-1864). [0200] Organizations / Education in science
1839 Harvard College Observatory was founded with William Cranch Bond (1789-1859) at its head. [0201] Organizations—Observatories / Astronomy
1839 The American Statistical Association was founded with an orientation to applied mathematical studies. [0202] Organizations—Societies and Associations / Mathematics
1839 Vulcanization of rubber (making the state of the substance constant through changes in temperature) was discovered by Charles Goodyear (1800-1860). [0203] Technology and Invention / Chemistry
1839 Samuel George Morton (1799-1851) published Crania Americana; or, a Comparative View of the Skulls of Various Aboriginal Nations of North and South America (Philadelphia and London). In this work, and in others, Morton tended to the conclusion that the different races were not related. [0204] Zoology—Human / Anatomy
1839 (May 11) Thomas Cooper (born 1759) died in Columbia, South Carolina. Arriving in the United States in 1793, he played an important role in the dissemination of chemical knowledge, including the preparation of annotated American editions of English textbooks. [0205] General or Miscellaneous / Chemistry
1839-1840 On October 7, 1839 New York mechanic Alexander Simon Wolcott (?-1844) took the first photographic portrait. By December, John William Draper (1811-1882) also produced a daguerreotype portrait and he published an account in Philosophical Magazine (1840), the first received in Europe. During the winter, Draper produced the first photograph of the moon, which was divulged to the New York Lyceum of Natural History on 23 March 1840. [0206] Technology and Invention / Astronomy, Photography


Created and Maintained by Dr. Clark A. Elliott Waltham, MA
clark_elliott at verizon dot net / Content updated 16 June 2008
Technical presentation by Andrew J. Elliott.