Liriodendron tulipifera flower

The University of North Carolina
A Department of the North Carolina Botanical Garden

Weakley's Flora



Collectors of the UNC Herbarium

Charles Henry Hitchcock

Information compiled by Carol Ann McCormick, May 2007

The University of North Carolina has to date catalogued about 40 botanical specimens collected by Charles Henry Hitchcock. Most are from Florida and are undated. The few that are dated were collected 1888 - 1891.

It seems possible that he knew another botanical collector, Nathan Barrows, M.D., since they both collected in the Winter Park, Florida area in the 1890's. Barrows' specimens are on Dartmouth College Herbarium labels, where Hitchcock was a faculty member. Both Hitchcock's and Barrows' specimens came to NCU via the Jesup Herbarium of Dartmouth College as a gift in 2002.

Hitchcock seems to have been interested in a wide variety of plants, as he collected not only ferns, but also shrubs, trees, and orchids.


Charles H. 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” (1874-1878), and the folio, “Atlas to Accompany the Geology…” (1878). The maps in the atlas comprise the first detailed, comprehensive map of the bedrock and surficial geology of the state.

Hitchcock began teaching at Dartmouth College in 1868 and held the Hall Professorship of Geology and Mineralogy from 1869-1908. From 1868 until 1893 the predecessor of the University of New Hampshire, the New Hampshire College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts, was located in Hanover. The two colleges shared facilities in Culver Hall.

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” (the places where they are well exposed in their most typical forms). Most of these rock formation names are still in use.

He is an exemplar of the 19th century geologist who made contributions in a wide range of fields. His accomplishments include fieldwork in paleontology, bedrock and glacial geology, economic geology, and volcanology. He also synthesized others’ research resulting in compilation of significant maps at both state and national levels.

Note: contains an image of Hitchcock from the frontispiece to the Dec. 1898 issue of "Appleton's Popular Science Monthly".


Early Years

Hitchcock was born in Amherst, Massachusetts. He was the son of Edward Hitchcock (Professor of geology and natural theology and later President of Amherst College), and of Orra White Hitchcock, a classically educated woman and illustrator of much of her husband’s work. Charles attended Amherst College and initially considered entering the ministry.

The elder Hitchcock (1793-1864) was noted for his study of Connecticut River Valley geology, especially its dinosaur tracks and glacial features. The books and maps published by the Massachusetts Geological Survey in the 1830’s and 1840’s during Edward Hitchcock’s tenure as Massachusetts State Geologist served as models for later surveys. When Edward served as Vermont State Geologist from 1856 to 1861, Charles was one of his chief assistants. The results of the Vermont survey, a two volume “Report on the Geology of Vermont: Descriptive, Theoretical, Economical, and Scenographical” were published in 1861. In the same year, Charles, following in his father’s footsteps, was appointed State Geologist of Maine. Charles was co-author with Ezekiel Holmes of two reports resulting from this appointment: ”Report upon the Natural History and Geology of the State of Maine” (1861 and 1862).

The New Hampshire Survey and Hitchcock’s Later Studies of New Hampshire Geology

In 1866-1867, Charles studied at the Royal School of Mines in London, examined fossils in the British Museum, and visited glaciers in Switzerland. On his return, he became State Geologist of New Hampshire and Professor of geology and mineralogy at Dartmouth College. The New Hampshire Survey took ten years, and in 1874 the first of the three volumes of “The Geology of New Hampshire: a Report Comprising the Results of Explorations Ordered by the Legislature” was published. In 1878, the “Atlas” that is the subject of this web site was published to accompany the survey’s report.

This geological survey of New Hampshire was notable in several respects. Having worked on the earlier Vermont survey, Hitchcock extended his work east from Vermont into New Hampshire. The survey delineated the major rock units in the state and, concentrating on areas of economic interest, studied the gold deposits of the Ammonoosuc district in detail. The overall pattern of rock and sediment distribution on the maps of the “Atlas” and the locations and physical descriptions of features in the “Geology” generally hold up well over a hundred years later. Although still somewhat controversial in the 1870’s, Hitchcock’s report and atlas recognize the dominant role that glaciation played in forming the State’s landscape and deposits of surficial materials (sand, gravel, and other unconsolidated materials).

As might be expected, the analysis of the origins of rock units is more dated. In the late 19th century many principles that we now take for granted were not well understood. For instance, Hitchcock recognized that igneous rocks underlie large areas of the state. However, some of his theories for their origins are far off the mark. He envisioned the granites forming as lava erupting in an oceanic setting rather than forming through intrusions of liquid magma into older rocks deep beneath the Earth’s surface.

As part of the survey’s activities, Hitchcock created the meteorological station on the summit of Mount Washington. In Hitchcock’s day, the station telegraphed its reports from the mountain. Today, weather observations from Mount Washington
remain an important source of meteorological data, not only for their role in predicting daily weather, but also for more extensive climatological and environmental research projects.

New Hampshire Topographic Relief Models

Hitchcock and NH survey members created several large relief maps depicting the topography of the state. A. L. King (1985a, 1985b, 1990) and individuals at the NH Division of Historical Resources and the NH State Library have researched the history of these relief maps.

The relief model on display in James Hall on the UNH campus maps is about 15 feet in length from north to south (a scale of one mile to the inch). It was initially housed at Dartmouth and moved to Durham in 1893-1894. It is probably the map referred to by Hitchcock in his New Hampshire survey report as having been begun in 1870. Topography is shown for both Vermont and New Hampshire, while Hitchcock’s bedrock geology is only included for New Hampshire. Some of this bedrock information was revised in 1934.

The New Hampshire State Library in Concord has a New Hampshire model at the same scale showing only topography and political information. It also includes some 20th century revisions. This model was commissioned by the NH legislature in 1876 and was originally placed in the NH State House. In 1990, it was rediscovered after more than thirty years in a NH Department of Transportation storage area.

Dartmouth College has a third model, similar to the one at UNH. It was created by Hitchcock to replace the one that accompanied UNH to Durham. This model has not been revised and depicts Hitchcock’s own interpretation of the geology of the state. It is not currently on display (February 2002) because of the ongoing renovations of Dartmouth’s Fairchild Tower.

Hitchcock’s Other Activities

Concurrent with and following his studying New Hampshire geology and teaching at Dartmouth, Hitchcock evaluated ore deposits of many types, identified glacial features throughout the northeast, and did extensive work with volcanic rocks in Hawaii. He is credited as being the first (in 1868) to suggest that Long Island was formed as part of the terminal moraine of a continental glacier. In 1872, as part of the Ninth Census, Hitchcock compiled, with W.P. Blake, the first geologic map of the entire United States. He published several other versions of this map.

The range of geography covered by Hitchcock’s research (New England to Florida and the Caribbean to the U.S. Southwest, Pacific Northwest and Hawaii) would be common for a geologist today. However, the breadth of his research and publications is less typical of modern more highly specialized scientists. Such breadth is very much a reflection of the opportunities in the still relatively new discipline of geology in the latter part of the 19th century.

Selected Additional Sources About Hitchcock
University of New Hampshire Library call numbers follow the citations.

Anon., 1898. Sketch of Charles Henry Hitchcock. Appleton’s Popular Science Monthly: v. 54, p. 260- 268 and portrait preceding p. 145.
UNH: Periodicals / Q1 / .P64.

Aldrich, M.L., 2001. Orra White Hitchcock (1796-1863) geological illustrator: Another Belle of Amherst. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs: v. 33 (6), p. 246.
UNH: Periodicals / QE1 / .G19.

Hitchcock, C.H. and Blake, W.P., 1872. Geological Map of the United States Compiled for the 9th Census. 1 sheet. In: Ninth Census, Volume 3. The Statistics of the Wealth and Industry of the United States.
UNH: Docs Reference / C3.223/0:1870/v.3.

Hitchcock, C.H., 1874-1878. The Geology of New Hampshire: A Report Comprising the Results of Explorations Ordered by the Legislature. Concord, NH: State Printer. 5 pt. in 3 v.
UNH: Special Collections or Loan-Call / QE139 .A16 / 1874.

Hitchcock, C.H., 1878. Atlas Accompanying the Report of the Geology of New Hampshire. New York: Julius Bien. 17 leaves.
UNH: Map Room Historic Maps and Special Collections / QE139 / .A16 / 1874.
[This is the original used to produce the images at this web site.]

King, A.L., 1985a. Hitchcock’s relief models of New Hampshire and Vermont. Dartmouth College Library Bulletin: new series v. 25 (2), p. 101-104.
UNH: Special Collections New Hamp/ Z881 / .H25b.

King, A.L., 1985b. Hitchcock’s “lost” relief map. Dartmouth College Library Bulletin: new series v. 26 (1), p. 31-36.
UNH: Special Collections New Hamp / Z881 / .H25b.

King, A.L., 1990. Hitchcock’s relief map of New Hampshire: A new discovery. Dartmouth College Library Bulletin: new series v. 31 (1), p. 32-33.
UNH: Special Collections New Hamp / Z881 / H25b. accessed 2/2/2002.

Naslund, C.T., 1985. “Type” Hitchcock: Dartmouth professor, New England mapmaker, and nineteenth-century scientist. Dartmouth College Library Bulletin: new series v. 25 (2), p. 92-100.
UNH: Special Collections New Hamp / Z881 / .H25b.

Newell, J.R., 2001. The Hitchcock family: A case study in patterns of geological training and employment in Antebellum America. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs: v. 33 (6), p. 245-246.
UNH: Periodicals / QE 1 / .G19.

Upham, W., 1920. Memorial of Charles Henry Hitchcock. Bulletin of the Geological Society of America: v. 31, p. 64-80.
UNH: Periodicals / QE 1 / .G2.

Waterman, L. and G. Waterman, 1989. Forest and Crag: History of Hiking, Trail Blazing, and Adventure in the Northeast Mountains. Appalachian Mountain Club.
UNH: Level 4 / GV 199.42 / .N38 W38 / 1989.

Waterman, L. and G. Waterman, 1994. Charles H. Hitchcock and the Geological Survey of New Hampshire (part 1) [excerpted with permission from Waterman, L. and G. Waterman, 1989. Forest and Crag: History of Hiking, Trail Blazing, and Adventure in the Northeast Mountains. Appalachian Mountain Club]. The Granite State Geologist: n. 7, January 1994. accessed 1/30/2002.

Waterman, L. and G. Waterman, 1994. Charles H. Hitchcock and the Geological Survey of New Hampshire (part 1) [excerpted with permission from Waterman, L. and G. Waterman, 1989. Forest and Crag: History of Hiking, Trail Blazing, and Adventure in the Northeast Mountains. Appalachian Mountain Club]. The Granite State Geologist: n. 8, April 1994. accessed 1/30/2002.

Use and Reproduction
The materials on this web site have been made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. For these purposes, you may reproduce (print, make photocopies, or download) materials from this web site without prior permission, on the condition that you provide proper attribution of the source in all copies (see copyright statement below). Although we do not require you to contact us in advance for these purposes, we do appreciate hearing from teachers, students, and researchers who are using our resources in interesting ways (please send e-mail to

This brief summary of Hitchcock’s life and work is drawn from the sources listed in the section “Additional Sources”.

Dr. Wallace A. Bothner and Dr. Peter J. Thompson, Department of Earth Sciences, University of New Hampshire, made valuable suggestions, as did Linda Johnson, Head of the UNH Library Government Documents Department.

Russell Bastedo, NH State Curator, and Michael York, NH State Librarian, provided information about the topographical models of New Hampshire. Barbara DeFelice and David A. Pantalony of Dartmouth College reviewed this text and contacted Allen King regarding details about Dartmouth’s topographic model.

Meredith Ricker, Government Documents Department, University of New Hampshire Library, scanned the images and created the web site.

Text by Thelma Thompson, Government Documents Librarian, University of New Hampshire Library, August 20, 2002.

Timothy Frye, Technical Support.

Government Documents Department | Digital Library Project | UNH Library

Send questions or comments to Thelma Thompson at

© 2003 University of New Hampshire Library. All rights reserved.


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Last Updated: 7 May 2007