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Louis Agassiz sends an autograph letter encouraging the Public Library should try to secure a private collection of books.
Autograph Letter Signed: "L Agassiz", 2p (front and verso), 5¼x8. Cambridge (Massachusetts), 1868 May 17. To "W. W. Greenough". In full: "Dr Brown-Sequard has told me that he received a few days ago, a letter from Mr. Winsor inquiring the price of his library and asking the refusal of it, in case he should be inclined to part withit. I am sufficiently familiar with that library to be justified in saying that the Public Library should not lose the opportunity of securing such a choice collection of books. It is not a large library, but all the leading works representing the present state of physiology are in it & as most of all the books are European and could not be obtained by the Library without sending for them to Europe, and paying in addition to the original price, the freight & duties if you are not free of duties, you could thus secure these books at a considerable profit to your institution & give us an additional opportunity of feeling grateful for your exertions on behalf of all the classes of readers & students. Very truly yours". Born in French-speaking Switzerland and educated at European universities, Louis Agassiz (1807-1873) accepted a Professorship at Harvard (1848) and spent the rest of his life promoting American science. He made highly influential studies of fossil fish and glaciers, coining the term "Ice Age" to describe an ancient era of extensive glaciation. Although his fossil studies were used by others to support Darwin's Theory of Evolution, Agassiz never accepted that doctrine. He espoused catastrophism, believing that new species emerged after such upheavals, and defined a species as "a thought of God". Dr. Charles Edward Brown-Sequard (1817-1894) was a prominent French physiologist who taught and published in France, Britain and the United States. In 1863, he accepted a professorship at Harvard University, leaving that position in 1868 to accept a teaching post at the School of Medicine in Paris. It was this move, no doubt, which required him to part with the collection of medical books mentioned in this letter. Horizontal and vertical mailing folds. Lightly stained on front page. Mounting adhesive and ¼-inch paper loss on blank integral leaf, near center fold. Overall, fine condition.

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Born: May 28, 1807
Died: December 12, 1873

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