|NOTABLE CONTRIBUTORS TO THE D. M. FISK MUSEUM
Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz (1807 – 1873)
Swiss-born U.S. naturalist, geologist, and Harvard University Professor who made
revolutionary contributions to the study of natural science with landmark work on
glacier activity and extinct fishes. He achieved lasting fame through his innovative
teaching methods, which altered the character of natural science education in the
United States. Thirteen of the sharks he collected on the Hassler Expedition to South
America ended up in the Hillsdale College Museum.
Alexander Agassiz (1835 - 1910)
Son of Louis Agassiz and an American scientist and engineer. He was a specialist in
marine ichthyology, but devoted much time to the investigation, superintendence and
exploitation of mines. Agassiz served as a president of the National Academy of
Sciences, which since 1913 has awarded the Alexander Agassiz Medal in his memory.
He donated to the Hillsdale College Museum 13 sharks from his father’s Hassler
Expedition to South America.
James Hall (1811 – 1898)
An American geologist and paleontologist. He was a noted authority on stratigraphy and
had an influential role in the development of American paleontology. He served as
State Geologist in New York, Iowa, and Wisconsin, Director of the New York State
Museum, and was a founding member of the National Academy of Sciences. He was
also the first president of the Geological Society of America. He contributed to the
Hillsdale College Museum many valuable specimens of fossils from his private
Anson A. Hinkley (1857 - 1920)
Anson A. Hinkley was an amateur malacologist born in Farmersville, Indiana in 1857, but spent most of his
adult years in DuBois, Illinois. He collected and studied the taxonomy of freshwater mollusks in the eastern
United States, Mexico, and Guatemala. He is particularly well known for his collections and taxonomic
work in the southeastern United States, especially Alabama, where he discovered two new genera of
gastropods (Amphigyra and Neoplanorbis) and many new species within the genera Somatogyrus
(Gastropoda), Ancyclus (Gastropoda), and Quadrula (Bivalvia Unionidae). Fifteen species of mollusks
have been named in his honor. Hinkley contributed 204 specimens of freshwater Unionid mussels to the
Hillsdale College Museum, representing 43 species, including 2 extinct species and 14 federally
endangered species. The specimens hail from Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, Florida, and Louisiana.
Charles Henry Hitchcock (1836-1919)
Served as New Hampshire State Geologist from 1868 to 1878. Hitchcock’s survey produced a
three-volume work, “The Geology of New Hampshire” and the folio, “Atlas to Accompany the
Geology…”. He was the Hall Professor of Geology at Dartmouth College from 1868-1908.
Hitchcock’s students nicknamed him “Type” because of the fact that he described and named
so many of the rock units in the state and designated their “type localities”. His
accomplishments include fieldwork in paleontology, bedrock and glacial geology, economic
geology, and volcanology. He was a founder and Vice President of the Geological Society of
America. A collection of mineral specimens covering the entire list of primitive rocks of the
United States, selected by Prof. Hitchcock were added to the museum in 1878.
Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden (1829-1887)
Through his work in mapping the states of Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, and Idaho, Hayden set the
foundation for the activities of the U.S. Geological Survey. His support for preserving pristine wilderness
areas resulted in the creation and preservation of Yellowstone National Park at a time when the nation's
interests were in developing the wealth of natural resources west of the Mississippi. During his career
Hayden was an esteemed member of several societies, among them the National Academy of Sciences and
geological societies in Great Britain, Austria, and Russia. In honor of his work, over forty organisms or
geological features now bear his name, including towns and lakes in the states he traversed, a moth, a
species of wildflower, and a fossil dinosaur. He donated 14 large photographs of the Canyons and Geysers
of Yellowstone to the Hillsdale College Museum.
George S. Vasey (1822 – 1893)
An English-born American botanist who collected a lot in Illinois before integrating the
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), where he became Chief Botanist
and curator of the greatly expanded U.S. National Herbarium. During his career he
collected and discovered many species, and as a prominent member of the United
States' botanical community, a number of species honor him by bearing his name.
The Illinois State University Herbarium is named in his honor. As many as 70 plant
specimens collected by Vasey are currently housed in Hillsdale College’s D. M. Fisk
Museum of Natural History.
Lee Elias Brown (1849-1927)
Palaeontologist and 1875 graduate of Hillsdale College. He was an understudy of famed
geologist, James Hall for whom he assisted in the sorting, labeling, and arranging of the collections
of fossils at the New York State Museum. Brown was lauded by Daniel M. Fisk, Curator of the
Hillsdale College Museum, for being a generous and dedicated donor to the Museum. Fisk wrote
of Brown in 1879, “No historical sketch of the growth of the museum would be complete without the
recognition of the large donations of Lee E. Brown…And with gratitude we are able to write, ‘The
end is not yet’. If one alumnus shows so much loyalty, will not all the rest of the alumni show a little?
Daniel M. Fisk (Hillsdale College Professor from 1872 - 1886)
First known curator of the Hillsdale College Museum. He was hired by Hillsdale College in 1872. After a fire
destroyed Hillsdale College and the original museum in 1874, Fisk worked tirelessly to rebuild the collections
and place them in Knowlton Hall. His efforts resulted in a museum that far surpassed the one he inherited in
1872. While many of the specimens added were from donations solicited by Fisk, Fisk himself spent much
time collecting specimens and organizing the collections. In addition to his work on the museum, he founded
the Harrington Biological Laboratory of Hillsdale College, probably the first laboratory in the state of Michigan
and among the first in the country where students conducted experiments rather than seeing only
demonstrations conducted by the professors. According to Fisk (1879), “In general, it may be said that there
are no specimens in the museum that are not used in class work. They are not merely pretty stones to be
looked at through glass, but actual objects of study and individual handling. Every topic touched upon by
textbook or lecture that has no material illustration to appeal to in the cabinet is so much loss to the pupil.”