century association biographical archive

Earliest Members of the Century Association

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Alexander Agassiz

Zoologist/Mining Engineer

Centurion, 1879–1910

Born 17 December 1835 in Neuchâtel, Switzerland

Died 27 March 1910 in North Atlantic, At Sea

Buried Forest Hills Cemetery and Crematory, Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts

Proposed by Wolcott Gibbs, Othniel C. Marsh, and Clarence King

Elected 7 June 1879 at age forty-three

Archivist’s Note: He died of natural causes aboard the steamship RMS Adriatic while en route from Southampton, England, to New York.

Century Memorial

Alexander Agassiz was a member of The Century for twenty-one years [sic: thirty-one]. He was born in Switzerland in 1835 and remained in Europe until the death of his mother, when he joined his father in the United States. He was graduated from Harvard in 1855 and from the Lawrence Scientific School in 1857. He then spent three terms in the Chemical Department. He was a rare combination of abilities, excelling at once as a scientist, a practical man of business, a teacher, and a delightful companion. He was the author of many books and treatises, a recognized authority on fishes and deep-sea research.

In 1874 he succeeded his distinguished father as Curator of the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoölogy, continuing the vast plans his father had formed. He attracted widespread attention and admiration from scientific men because of the perfection of the work done under his direction. He gave to it liberally of his wealth, as well as to other departments of the University, his gifts exceeding a million dollars in all. He was Overseer and Fellow of Harvard while his health permitted. His services received distinguished recognition—France made him an officer of the Legion of Honor in 1896, and the Emperor William awarded him the Order of Merit in 1902. He was a foreign member of the Academies of Science of Paris, London, Vienna, Stockholm, Rome, Munich, and Copenhagen. Withal he was a prince of good fellows, simple, unpretending, cordial, with the inestimable art which softens and refines our social intercourse.

George William Knox
1911 Century Association Yearbook