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Alpheus Hyatt II Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: --
Date: Nov. 1966

Biographical History

Alpheus Hyatt II, naturalist, paleontologist, and educator, was born in Washington, D. C. an April 5, 1838, the son of Alpheus and Harriet Randolph (King) Hyatt. He attended various private schools, including the Maryland Military Academy, and then entered the class of 1856 at Yale. After completing his freshman year, however, he dropped out for a year of travel in Europe with his mother, upon his return he entered Lawrence Scientific School of Harvard University. As an outstanding pupil of Louis Agassiz, he graduated with highest honors in 1862. He then enlisted as a private in the Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry for the Civil War, emerging with the rank of captain.

At the end of his service, Hyatt decided to pursue his scientific studies, working for a time at the Essex Institute at Salem, Mass. where he and other naturalist friends founded and for a number of years edited the "American Naturalist". In 1867 he was appointed one of the curators of the Essex Institute, working with his friends A. S. Packard, A. E. Verrill, E. S. Morse, and Alexander Agassiz. He took an active part in the foundation of the Peabody Academy of Science. In 1867 he married Audella Beebe and soon became the father of Alpheus Hyatt III, Harriet Randolph Hyatt and Anna Vaughn Hyatt. A second son died in infancy. In 1871 Hyatt was elected custodian of the Boston Society of Natural History, becoming its curator in 1881 and remaining the scientific head of the society until his death in 1902. After 1873 he made his home in Cambridge where he could be near the great collection of fossil cephalopods of the Museum of Comparative Zoology which were his first scientific love. In 1879 he established a summer laboratory for the study of marine zoology at his country home at Annisquam, Mass. He kept a 60 foot schooner with which he made scientific cruises along the New England coast to study fossils and the general geology of these regions. But the location was found unfavorable for the site of a general marine laboratory, so after a few years the station was moved to Woods Hole, Mass., and Hyatt became the first president of its board of trustees.

As an educator, Hyatt served as professor of zoology and paleontology at M.I.T., a chair he held for eighteen years. He also was professor of biology and zoology at Boston University from 1877 until his death. His scientific studies revolved around the lower forms of animal life and was one of the first to combine the study of both living and fossil forms. In 1875 he was elected a fellow of the National Academy of Sciences and in 1898 received the honorary degree of L1. D. from Brown University. His studies took him ton y parts of the world. He died at his home at Cambridge in 1902.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Alpheus Hyatt II Papers include biographical material, correspondence, manuscripts, published material, and related items.

Correspondence includes letters incoming, outgoing, letters to and from others, and two letterbooks. One letterbook contains letters from his wife, dated 1889. The other contains miscellaneous correspondence. Subject File includes various materials, such as artifacts, bills and vouchers, Civil War materials, a diary entitled "Travel Book," an expedition journal, a map, mortgages and bills of sale, and photographs. Manuscripts includes holograph papers, notes, and artifacts by Professor Hyatt collected in a large folder, a scientific notebook, and a scientific sketches. Published Material includes articles and newspaper clippings about Alpheus Hyatt II and others. Oversize contains two large photographs, one of an unidentified person and the other of Professor Hyatt's desk.

Arrangement of the Collection

Incoming correspondence, subject file, and manuscripts are arranged alphabetically. Outgoing correspondence are arrange chronologically. Published Materials are organized alphabetically by type and then chronologically.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

The Special Collections Research Center has numerous collections for the Hyatt-Mayor families. For information on members of the Hyatt, Mayor, Beebe, and Huntington families see the SCRC Subject Index for the finding aids of individual family members.

Subject Headings


Beecher, Charles Emerson, 1856-1904.
Agassiz, Alexander, 1835-1910.
Cope, E. D. (Edward Drinker), 1840-1897.
Dana, James Dwight, 1813-1895.
Diller, J. S. (Joseph Silas), b. 1850.
Gilbert, Grove Karl, 1843-1918.
Goode, G. Brown (George Brown), 1851-1896.
Gray, Asa, 1810-1888.
Hill, Robert Thomas, 1858-1841.
Huntington, Anna Hyatt, 1876-1973.
Hyatt family.
Hyatt, Alpheus, 1838-1902 -- Archives.
Hyatt, Alpheus.
Hyatt, Audella Beebe, 1840-1932.
Marcou, Jules, 1824-1898.
Mayor family.
Mayor, Harriet Randolph Hyatt, 1868-1960.
Schuchert, Charles, 1858-1942.
Walcott, Charles D. (Charles Doolittle), 1850-1927.


Paleontologists -- United States.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Drawings (visual works)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Alpheus Hyatt II Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Anna Hyatt Huntington, 1965-1967.

Table of Contents

Biographical Material


Subject File


Published Material