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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Am 1282

Louis Agassiz letters to Pedro II, Emperor of Brazil


Letters to Pedro II, Emperor of Brazil from Swiss natural scientist Louis Agassiz and others.


  • Creation: 1863-1882

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in French and English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material. Collection is open for research.


.5 linear feet (1 box)

Consists of photostatic copies of 53 letters in French from Louis Agassiz to Pedro II, mainly concerning Agassiz's expedition to Brazil (to collect specimens for the Harvard Museum in Cambridge, Mass.). His letters are written from the U.S., Brazil and on board ship and give progress reports on his trips to the Amazon and other areas in Latin America. He also discusses American literary figures, such as Longfellow and Emerson, with Pedro II. A few other letters in the collection are from Alexander Agassiz, Elizabeth Cary Agassiz and John Greenleaf Whittier. .

Biographical / Historical

Agassiz was born in Switzerland; taught at Neuchâtel from 1832 to 1845; and in 1846 moved to the United States to teach natural history at Harvard. Agassiz and his wife, Elizabeth Cabot Cary, spent 19 months in Brazil (1865-1866) to collect zoological specimens for the Harvard Museum. An account of this expedition is found in A Journey to Brazil (1868) written mainly by Elizabeth. Agassiz's collections formed the basis of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard.


Arranged alphabetically by author.

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

52M-77. Gift of David James; received: 1952.

Existence and Location of Copies

The originals of these letters are in the Imperial Museum at Petrópolis, Province of Rio de Janerio, Brazil

Agassiz, Louis, 1807-1873. Louis Agassiz letters to Pedro II, Emperor of Brazil, 1863-1882: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, archives, and more. Houghton Library's collections represent the scope of human experience from ancient Egypt to twenty-first century Cambridge. With strengths primarily in North American and European history, literature, and culture, collections range in media from printed books and handwritten manuscripts to maps, drawings and paintings, prints, posters, photographs, film and audio recordings, and digital media, as well as costumes, theater props, and a wide range of other objects. Houghton Library has historically focused on collecting the written record of European and Eurocentric North American culture, yet it holds a large and diverse number of primary sources valuable for research on the languages, culture and history of indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Houghton Library’s Reading Room is free and open to all who wish to use the library’s collections.

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