Charles Pickering (1805 - 1878)

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Death: Died
Managed by: Doug Robinson
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About Charles Pickering

Charles Pickering (November 10, 1805 – March 17, 1878) was an American naturalist.

Born in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, the grandson of Colonel Timothy Pickering, he grew up in Wenham, Massachusetts and received a medical degree from Harvard University in 1823. A practicing physician in Philadelphia, he became active as librarian and curator at the city's Academy of Natural Sciences.

Pickering went with the United States Exploring Expedition of 1838-1842 as one of its naturalists. Charles Wilkes, the expedition's commander, named Pickering Passage in honor of Charles Pickering.

From 1842-43, Pickering curated the collection from the Wilkes Expedition, which was housed at the Patent Office in Washington DC.

Pickering was a polygenist, he believed that different races had been created separately. In 1843, he traveled to Africa and India to research human races. In 1848, Pickering published Races of Man and Their Geographical Distribution, which enumerated eleven races.

He later moved to Boston, where he resumed his medical practice.


Pickering, Charles (1863). The geographical distribution of animals and plants (United States exploring expedition, 1838-1842, under the command of Charles Wilkes). Trübner and Company.
Races of Man and Their Geographical Distribution (1848)
Geographical Distribution of Animals and Plants (1854)
Geographical Distribution of Plants (1861)
Chronological History of Plants: Man's Record of His Own Existence Illustrated through Their Names, Uses, and Companionship (1879)
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Charles Pickering's Timeline

Age 73