<< 1870-1879
1890-1899 >>
Date Event Subjects
1880 Charles Edwin Bessey (1845-1915) published Botany for High Schools and Colleges (New York), an influential textbook that gave new direction to botanical teaching. Among its features was the emphasis given to laboratory study in botany, and the inclusion of cryptogamic botany and physiological anatomy. The book was an American version of Julius von Sachs' Lehrbuch der Botanik. [0536] Botany
1880 Charles Sprague Sargent (1841-1927) conducted a survey for the U.S. Census, which was presented in the publication Report on the Forests of North America (Exclusive of Mexico) (Washington, D.C., 1884). [0537] Botany
1880 Alpheus Hyatt (1838-1902) wrote on his influential idea that species' changes have the features of youth, maturity, and age with death as do individual organisms. (The best representation of his ideas appeared this year in "The Genesis of the Tertiary Species of Planorbis at Steinheim," Anniversary Memoirs of Boston Society of Natural History.) [0538] Evolution
1880 In this year, there were only eleven secondary schools with laboratory-based teaching in physics. [0539] General or Miscellaneous / Education in science, Physics
1880 Clarence Edward Dutton (1841-1912) published Report on the Geology of the High Plateaus of Utah (U.S. Geographical and Geological Survey of the Rocky Mountain Region) (Washington, D.C.). [0540] Geology
1880 The American Society of Mechanical Engineers was founded. Robert Henry Thurston (1839-1903) was the first president. [0541] Organizations—Societies and Associations / Engineering and Applied Science
1880 Othniel Charles Marsh (1831-1899) published Odontornithes: A Monograph on the Extinct Toothed Birds of North America (U.S. Geological Exploration of the 40th Parallel, vol. 7) (Washington, D.C.). Charles Darwin considered Marsh's work on the extinct birds to be the best evidence then known in support of evolution. [0542] Paleontology
1880 By about this date, Henry Draper (1837-1882) had succeeded in establishing Photography as the most effective means of carrying out astronomical studies. [0543] Astronomy / Photography
1880 (August 28) Chemist and geologist Charles Thomas Jackson (b.1805) died at Somerville, Massachusetts. [0544] General or Miscellaneous / Chemistry, Geology
ca.1880 By this period, most engineers in the United States were trained in college. [0545] General or Miscellaneous / Engineering and Applied Science
1880s During this time, Foster E.L. Beal (1840-1916) in Iowa and Stephen A. Forbes (1844-1930) in Illinois began the study of the contents of the stomachs of birds to determine their dietary practices. Part of the motivation was to understand the relations of the birds to the insect population and the effects on agriculture. [0546] Zoology / Ornithology
1881 After this date, John A. Brashear (1840-1920) was able to turn his full attention to the production of scientific instruments and his company subsequently became a major provider of astrophysical apparatus worldwide. [0547] Instruments and Instrumentation / Organizations—Industry
1881 Seth Carlo Chandler (1846-1913), at the Harvard College Observatory, with John Ritchie (1853-1939), established Science Observer Code for the telegraphic dissemination of information on new comets. [0548] Periodicals and Publishing / Astronomy
1881 The Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History was established, chiefly through the efforts of Robert Parr Whitfield (1828-1910), a curator in geology and Paleontology at the Museum. [0549] Periodicals and Publishing / Natural History
1881 Henry Newell Martin (1848-1896) published the textbook, The Human Body (New York). It had several editions. [0550] Zoology—Human
1882 Clarence Edward Dutton (1841-1912) published The Tertiary History of the Grand Canyon District (U.S. Geological Survey Monograph, no. 2) (Washington, D.C.). [0551] Geology
1882 The American Association for the Advancement of Science organized nine sections. Prior to this, there were two sections under the direction of a vice-president with chairs of subdivisions as required. [0552] Organizations—Societies and Associations
1882 The American Forestry Association was established. [0553] Organizations—Societies and Associations / Botany
1882 Simon Newcomb (1835-1909) established the Astronomical Papers Prepared for the Use of the American Ephemeris and National Almanac, published by the Naval Observatory. Most of his own contributions appeared in this source. [0554] Periodicals and Publishing / Astronomy
1882 Johann Bernhard Stallo (1823-1900) published Concepts and Theories of Modern Physics (New York). The book was a critique of the foundations of "corpuscular-kinetic" or mechanistic views of matter, which were then prevalent. Stallo's ideas were largely dismissed by leading American physicists of the time. The book was published in a German translation in 1901. [0555] Physics
1882 A machine for producing precision diffraction gratings used in spectroscopy was devised by Henry Augustus Rowland (1848-1901). With his apparatus Rowland produced ruled lines on a surface that was spherically curved and capable of focusing all of the spectrum on a circle. [0556] Physics / Instruments and Instrumentation
1882 Electric lighting was made feasible through Thomas A. Edison's (1847-1931) steam-powered Pearl Street central power station in New York. It began operation on 4 September. [0557] Technology and Invention / Electricity and Electronics
1882 Augustus Radcliffe Grote (1841-1903) published An Illustrated Essay on the Noctuidae of North America (London), a semipopular entomological work. [0558] Zoology / Entomology
1882 (May 30) Geologist and science educator William Barton Rogers (b.1804) died in Boston, Massachusetts. [0559] General or Miscellaneous / Geology
1882-1888 Thomas Chrowder Chamberlin (1843-1928) and his colleagues published a series of notable papers in the Report of the United States Geological Survey. During this period (and until 1907), Chamberlin was head of the Survey's glacial division. [0560] Geology
1883 Henry Augustus Rowland (1848-1901), vice-president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, gave a notable address called "A Plea for Pure Science." [0561] General or Miscellaneous
1883 Four time zones were established in the United States. The decision drew upon an 1879 report by Cleveland Abbe (1838-1916) and previously designated zones used by the railroads. [0562] General or Miscellaneous
1883 Granville Stanley Hall (1846-1924) established the first American psychological laboratory at Johns Hopkins University. [0563] Organizations—Academic / Psychology
1883 The American Botanical Club was founded by botanists in the American Association for the Advancement of Science. [0564] Organizations—Societies and Associations / Botany
1883 The American Society of Naturalists was founded. It was initially known as the Society of Naturalists of the Eastern United States. [0565] Organizations—Societies and Associations / Natural History
1883 The American Ornithologists' Union was founded by Joel Asaph Allen (1838-1921), William Brewster (1851-1919), and Elliott Coues (1842-1899). Allen served as first president, from 1883-1890. [0566] Organizations—Societies and Associations / Ornithology
1883 Edward Drinker Cope (1840-1897) published The Vertebrata of the Tertiary Formations of the West, Book I, Report of the U.S. Geological Survey of the Territories, III [Hayden Survey). It became known as "Cope's Bible." [0567] Paleontology
1883 The journal Science began publication. Growing out of an idea of Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922) in the previous year, during its first eight years Bell and his father-in-law, Gardiner G. Hubbard (1822-1897), contributed approximately $100,000 for the publication. [0568] Periodicals and Publishing
1883 Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) discovered what is known as the Edison effect, the outflow of electricity from heated metal. The phenomenon later was used (by others) in the vacuum tube used in radio and television. [0569] Physics / Electricity and Electronics
1883 Granville Stanley Hall (1846-1924) published his paper, "The Contents of Children's Minds," Princeton Review 11:249-273, which helped to promote studies in child development. [0570] Psychology
1883 George Henry Horn (1840-1897) and John Lawrence LeConte (1825-1883) published "Classification of the Coleoptera of North America," Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, 26:1-567. [0571] Zoology / Entomology
1883 (May 24) The Brooklyn Bridge was opened. Begun in 1869, it had a span of 1595.5 feet, by a wide margin the largest suspension bridge built up to that time. [0572] Engineering and Applied Science
1884 Leo Lesquereux (1806-1889) and Thomas Potts James (1803-1882) published Manual of the Mosses of North America (Boston). Lesquereux had begun work on it with William S. Sullivant, who died in 1873. [0573] Botany
1884 The Elizabeth Thompson Science Fund was established by New Yorker Thompson (1821-1899) with an endowment of $25,000. The fund was managed by a group of Harvard scientists, including Charles S. Minot (1852-1914) (embryology) and Edward C. Pickering (1846-1919) (astronomy). [0574] Funds and Funding
1884 The federal government formed the Bureau of Animal Industry in the Department of Agriculture. The new Bureau had as part of its mission the regulation of activities in order to control Disease among farm animals. Daniel E. Salmon (1850-1914) was put in charge. [0575] Government—Federal / Agriculture, Zoology
1884 The Association of Official Agricultural Chemists was established. [0576] Organizations—Societies and Associations / Agriculture, Chemistry
1884 The American Institute of Electrical Engineers was established. [0577] Organizations—Societies and Associations / Engineering and Applied Science
1884 Arnold Henri Guyot (1807-1884) published Creation, or the Biblical Cosmogony in the Light of Modern Science (New York). Guyot died at Princeton, New Jersey on 8 February. [0578] Religion and Theology
1884 Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) invented the electric alternator. This also was the year he emigrated to the United States. [0579] Technology and Invention / Electricity and Electronics
1884 (August 26) Ottmar Mergenthaler (1854-1899) patented the linotype machine for the setting of type. [0580] Technology and Invention
1884 (October) At an international conference at Washington, the prime meridian was established as running through Greenwich, England. [0581] General or Miscellaneous / Astronomy
1884-1886 In 1884, Congress established a Joint Commission to Consider the Present Organization of the Signal Service, Geological Survey, Coast and Geodetic Survey, and the Hydrographic Office of the Navy Department, with a View to Secure Greater Efficiency and Economy of Administration of the Public Service. Chaired by Senator William B. Allison (Iowa), it came to be known as the Allison Commission. The Commission submitted its report in 1886, which left the government science establishment essentially intact and by implication endorsed the role of the federal government in science as represented in the agencies involved in the review. The Commission did not endorse the idea of a central department of science which had been suggested to it by a committee of the National Academy of Sciences. [0582] Government—Federal
1884-1887 John Uri Lloyd (1849-1936) and his brother Curtis G. Lloyd (1859-1926) published the two-volume work, Drugs and Medicines of North America (Cincinnati). [0583] Pharmacology and Pharmacy
1885 Israel Charles White (1848-1927) published "The Geology of Natural Gas," Science 5:521-552. This paper included White's anticlinal theory regarding accumulations of oil and natural gas. In his work, he related such accumulations to specific gravities and geological structures. Although not an idea specific to White, he helped to formulate and promote it for commercial benefit. [0584] Geology
1885 Francis Delafield (1841-1915) and Theophil Mitchell Prudden (1849-1924) published A Handbook of Pathological Anatomy and Histology (New York). Originally published by Delafield in 1872 as A Handbook of Post-Mortem Examinations and of Morbid Anatomy, a seventh edition appeared in 1904. [0585] Medicine / Pathology
1885 Georgia School of Technology was founded. In 1948, its name was changed to Georgia Institute of Technology. [0586] Organizations—Academic
1885 The American Society for Psychical Research was established. [0587] Organizations—Societies and Associations / Parapsychology
1885 Henry Pickering Bowditch (1840-1911) published experimental results of studies showing the fatiguelessness of the nerve trunk. The paper, "Note on the Nature of Nerve-Force," appeared in the Journal of Physiology 6 (1885): 133-135. [0588] Zoology / Physiology
1885 (December) Geologist Grove Karl Gilbert (1843-1918) presented a presidential address to the Society of American Naturalists, "The Inculcation of Scientific Method," in which he promoted the value of devising and testing multiple hypotheses. [0589] General or Miscellaneous
1886 William T. Sedgwick (1855-1921) and Edmund Beecher Wilson (1856-1939) published General Biology (New York). As a textbook, it helped to reorient academic teaching away from the taxonomic and phylogenetic. [0590] Biology—General
1886 A Division of Economic Ornithology and Mammalogy (after 1891, the word Economic was deleted) was established in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Clinton Hart Merriam (1855-1942) became its head. [0591] Government—Federal / Zoology
1886 Arthur D. Little Company was founded with a partnership of Arthur D. Little (1863-1935) and Roger B. Griffin (?-1893) known as Griffin & Little, Chemical Engineers. [0592] Organizations—Industry / Chemistry
1886 The intercollegiate scientific honor society, Sigma Xi, was founded at Cornell University. Professor of Paleontology Henry Shaler Williams (1847-1918) was organizer of the society. [0593] Organizations—Societies and Associations
1886 Edwin Herbert Hall (1855-1938) first published what came to be known as the Harvard Descriptive List of Elementary Physical Experiments, in a provisional form. This publication, intended to serve the purposes of examination for college admission, had an important influence on the teaching of physics in secondary schools. [0594] Physics / Education in science
1886 An economically feasible means of producing aluminum was invented by American Charles Martin Hall (1863-1914). During the same year, Paul-Louis-Toussaint Heroult in France independently devised a similarly practical means and the procedure came to be known as the Hall-Heroult process. Hall procured a patent in 1889 and the company he founded came to be known as the Aluminum Company of America. [0595] Technology and Invention / Organizations—Industry
1886 Charles Sedgwick Minot (1852-1914), at the Harvard Medical School, invented the automatic rotary microtome. [0596] Zoology / Instruments and Instrumentation
1886 The American Ornithologists' Union prepared a Code of Nomenclature that later served as a foundation for the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature. [0597] Zoology / Ornithology
1886 (June 30) The Division of Forestry in the U.S. Department of Agriculture was established. Its head was Bernhard E. Fernow (1851-1923). [0598] Government—Federal / Botany
1887 Samuel P. Langley's (1834-1906) The New Astronomy (Boston) was an introduction to astrophysics for the general reader. It appeared originally in Century Magazine, 1884-1887. [0599] Astronomy
1887 The U.S. Marine Hospital Service began the establishment of laboratories and the promotion of research relating to infectious Diseases. In this year, the Service established a small-scale diagnostic laboratory in New York. [0600] Government—Federal / Public Health
1887 The Lick 36-inch refracting telescope, the largest in the world at the time, was finished and mounted on Mt. Hamilton near San Francisco (December 31). Warner and Swasey Company of Cleveland, manufacturer of machine tools, had been given the contract to build the mounting in 1886; the lens was made by Alvan Clark and Sons. In 1888, the Lick Observatory was formally transferred to the University of California. The 36-inch refractor was first used in June 1888. [0601] Organizations—Observatories / Instruments and Instrumentation
1887 The Association of American Agricultural Colleges and Experiment Stations was established. [0602] Organizations—Societies and Associations / Agriculture
1887 The American Physiological Society was founded. (Of the 24 founders, one-quarter were students of Johns Hopkins University professor Henry Newell Martin, 1848-1896.) [0603] Organizations—Societies and Associations / Physiology
1887 The Journal of Analytical and Applied Chemistry was founded and continued until 1893, when it merged with the Journal of American Chemical Society. It was edited by Edward Hart (1854-1931). [0604] Periodicals and Publishing / Chemistry
1887 The American Journal of Psychology was established by Granville Stanley Hall (1846-1924); it was the first American journal devoted to psychology. Hall edited the publication for many years. [0605] Periodicals and Publishing / Psychology
1887 The Journal of Morphology was founded by Charles Otis Whitman (1842-1910), then director of the Allis Lake Laboratory in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This was the earliest zoology and anatomy journal in the country. [0606] Periodicals and Publishing / Zoology
1887 Albert Abraham Michelson (1852-1931) and Edward W. Morley (1838-1923) undertook experiments with their light beam interferometer on ether drift. Michelson had begun the experiment in 1881. The Michelson-Morley experiment found no difference in the course of two beams of light split from a single source, traveling parallel and perpendicular to the direction of the motion of the earth (i.e.,they were unable to detect any evidence of earth's motion relative to a supposed stationary ether). The negative result had consequences in the later abandonment of the ether concept. [0607] Physics
1887 Robert Ridgway (1850-1929) published Manual of North American Birds (Philadelphia). [0608] Zoology / Ornithology
1887 Isaac Ott (1847-1916) discovered the brain's heat-regulating center. [0609] Zoology / Physiology
1887 (February 25) Stephen Alfred Forbes (1844-1930) presented early views on ecological community in a lecture, "The Lake as a Microcosm," to the Scientific Association of Peoria, Illinois. It was published in the Association's Bulletin 1 (1887): 77-87 [and reprinted in Bulletin of Illinois State Natural History Survey 15 (1925): 537-550]. [0610] Biology—General / Ecology
1887 (March 2) The Hatch Act was passed by Congress to provide support for state agricultural experiment stations; an Office of Experiment Stations was created in the Department of Agriculture. In 1906, the Adams Act restricted funding to original research. [0611] Government—Federal / Agriculture
1887 (August 19) Zoologist Spencer Fullerton Baird (b.1823) died at Woods Hole, Massachusetts. [0612] General or Miscellaneous / Zoology
1888 Charles Augustus Young (1834-1908) published his frequently used A Textbook of General Astronomy for Colleges and Scientific Schools (Boston). [0613] Astronomy
1888 Arthur Amos Noyes (1866-1936) was one of the first Americans to study physical chemistry with Wilhelm Ostwald at Leipzig University. Noyes later taught at MIT and California Institute of Technology. [0614] General or Miscellaneous / Chemistry
1888 John Wesley Powell (1834-1902) was put in charge of a survey of regions where agriculture depended on irrigation, in anticipation of possible dam projects. An immediate result was that sale of public land in these areas was suspended temporarily. The survey and its regulatory features encountered considerable political opposition and resulted in severe cuts in funding for government science in the early 1890s. [0615] Government—Federal / Geology
1888 Frederick George Novy (1864-1957) and Victor Clarence Vaughan (1851-1929) published Ptomaines and Leucomaines, or the Putrefactive and Physiological Alkaloids (Philadelphia). A much revised fourth edition appeared in 1902 as Cellular Toxins, or the Chemical Factors in the Causation of Disease (Philadelphia and New York). [0616] Medicine / Chemistry
1888 Cornell University appointed Liberty Hyde Bailey, Jr. (1858-1954) to the first American professorship in practical and experimental horticulture. [0617] Organizations—Academic / Botany
1888 James McKeen Cattell (1860-1944) was appointed professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, the first such professorship anywhere in the world. [0618] Organizations—Academic / Psychology
1888 George Westinghouse (1846-1914) bought various patents of Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) relating to alternating current (AC) dynamos, motors, and related devices that made it possible to transmit electrical current over long distance. In the resulting conflict with Thomas A. Edison (1847-1931), who favored direct current, alternating current won out and was the foundation for the emergent electric power industry. (The Westinghouse Electric Company was founded in 1886.) [0619] Organizations—Industry / Electricity and Electronics
1888 The Marine Biological Laboratory was opened in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Among the founders was Charles Otis Whitman (1842-1910), who served as first director from 1893 to 1908. The first student to receive a problem in the laboratory was Cornelia M. Clapp, 1849-1934, teacher at Mt. Holyoke Seminary. [0620] Organizations—Research Institutions / Zoology
1888 The American Association of Anatomists was founded. [0621] Organizations—Societies and Associations / Anatomy
1888 The National Geographic Society was established for the promotion of popular interest in the subject. Its first president was Gardiner G. Hubbard (1822-1897). The Society's National Geographic Magazine began publication the same year. [0622] Organizations—Societies and Associations / Geography and Cartography
1888 The Geological Society of America was founded (it was known until 1889 as the American Geological Society). (Among the major founders was Alexander Winchell, 1824-1891, who has been called "father" of the organization.) James Hall, Jr. (1811-1898) was the first president. [0623] Organizations—Societies and Associations / Geology
1888 The American Anthropologist was established. [0624] Periodicals and Publishing / Anthropology and Ethnology
1888 The American Geologist was established and was published in Minnesota until 1905. (Among the founders were Alexander Winchell, 1824-1891, and his brother Newton Horace Winchell, 1839-1914.) In 1905, it was superseded by Economic Geology. [0625] Periodicals and Publishing / Geology
1888 Publications of American Statistical Association was established. In 1922, the name was changed to Journal of American Statistical Association.[0626 (0627 not used)] Periodicals and Publishing / Mathematics
1888 Alpheus Spring Packard, Jr. (1839-1905) published The Cave Fauna of North America, With Remarks on the Anatomy of the Brain and Origin of the Blind Species (Memoirs of National Academy of Sciences, vol. 4) (Washington, D.C.). The work's significance included its integration of taxonomic, anatomical, and evolutionary approaches. [0628] Zoology
1888 Paleontologist and entomologist Samuel Wendell Williston (1851-1918) published the first edition of his The Manual of North American Diptera (New Haven), though under a somewhat different title. A third and much expanded edition appeared in 1908 with the title as given here. [0629] Zoology / Entomology
1888 John Henry Comstock (1849-1931) published An Introduction to Entomology with illustrations by his wife, Anna Botsford Comstock (1854-1930). [0630] Zoology / Entomology
1888 (January 30) Botanist Asa Gray (b.1810) died at Cambridge, Massachusetts. [0631] General or Miscellaneous / Botany
1888 (November 24) The New York Mathematical Society had its beginnings in a meeting of the interested faculty of Columbia University. A Bulletin began publication in 1890. In 1894, the organization became the American Mathematical Society, which began issuing its Transactions in 1900. [0632] Organizations—Societies and Associations / Mathematics
1888-1889 Samuel Hubbard Scudder (1837-1911) published Butterflies of the Eastern United States and Canada (Cambridge, Mass.), in three volumes. [0633] Zoology / Entomology
1888-1891 John Thomas Gulick (1832-1923) published two papers that presented his views of the importance of isolation as a means of supplementing natural selection in the establishment of species. His ideas were developed through studies of animal forms in the Hawaiian Islands. The papers were: "Divergent Evolution Through Cumulative Segregation," Journal of the Linnean Society, Zoology 20 (1888): 189-274, and "Intensive Segregation [or Divergence Through Independent Transformation]," ibid. 23 (1891): 312-380. [0634] Evolution
1889 Thomas Burr Osborne (1859-1929), at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, began his lifetime of work on the proteins of plant seeds. In his investigations, he developed procedures that came to be standard for the separation of proteins from plant seed. [0635] Chemistry / Botany
1889 William Morris Davis (1850-1934) published "The Rivers and Valleys of Pennsylvania," National Geographic Magazine 1:183-253, which was the starting point for development of his influential work in landscape analysis. The next year he published "The Rivers of Northern New Jersey With Notes on the Classification of Rivers in General," National Geographic Magazine 2:81-110. These works helped to introduce the concept of the cycle of erosion, Davis's most significant contribution. [0636] Geology
1889 The American Association of Economic Entomologists was established. [0637] Organizations—Societies and Associations / Entomology
1889 The United States took up membership in the International Geodetic Association. [0638] Organizations—Societies and Associations / Geophysics and Geodesy
1889 (February) The Astronomical Society of the Pacific was established. Edward Singleton Holden (1846-1914) was particularly prominent in the founding and early affairs of the Society, which was characterized by its inclusion of professionals and amateurs. [0639] Organizations—Societies and Associations / Astronomy
1889 (February 9) The U.S. Department of Agriculture was elevated to cabinet status. [0640] Government—Federal / Agriculture


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.