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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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Edward Sylvester Morse

MORSE, Edward Sylvester, naturalist, born in Portland, Maine, 18 June, 1838. He was educated at the academy in Bethel, Maine, and then became a draughtsman in the Portland locomotive-works, meanwhile devoting his leisure to studies in natural history. His work attracted the attention of Louis Agassiz, by whom he was invited to study at the Lawrence scientific school of Harvard, where until 1862 he was assistant. Brachiopods became the subject of his investigations. They had been regarded as mollusks, but after careful research Morse announced that they were to be classed among the worms. This work attracted special attention abroad from famous naturalists, notably Charles Darwin. in 1866 he settled in Salem, and was associated in establishing the "American Naturalist," becoming one of its editors, and in founding the Peabody academy of sciences, of which he was made a curator. His biological investigations continued until 1871 in Salem, during which time he published more than twenty memoirs. He was called in 1871 to the chair of comparative anatomy and zoology in Bowdoin, where he remained for three years, and then returning to Salem resumed his special researches on the brachiopods. In 1877 he visited Japan in search of new material on this subject, and accepted from the Japanese government the professorship of zoology in the imperial university of Tokio. He thoroughly organized that department of the university, laid the foundation for the collections in the imperial museum, and established a zoological station in the Bay of Yeddo, but resigned from these offices in 1880 to continue his researches in the United States. During his stay in Japan he was led to the examination of prehistoric remains by the observance of shell-heaps near Tokio. These he found to be similar to those that had been discovered in New England and Florida by Jeffries Wyman, with whom he had studied, and evidence was obtained showing the cannibal nature of this people that inhabited Japan before the Ainos, who were the predecessors of the present race there. His researches extended also to earthenware, and his collection of Japanese pottery now in Salem is considered the largest, most valuable, and most complete in the world. In 1881 he became director of the Peabody academy of sciences in Salem, which office he has since retained, except during 1882, when he again visited Japan, returning by way of Europe. His recent work has included the classification of his material on Japan, part of which has been published, and an ethnological research on "Ancient Methods of Arrow Release," which has received favorable recognition from English scientists. Professor Morse has lectured extensively throughout the United States on scientific subjects, and has delivered special courses in Boston, Baltimore, and Salem. He has invented apparatus for utilizing the sun's rays in heating and ventilating apartments, a device for introducing fresh air into a heated room, and a pamphlet jacket. In 1871 he received the degree of Ph.D. from Bowdoin, and besides membership in numerous scientific societies received in 1876 an election to the National academy of sciences. In 1885 he was elected president of the American association for the advancement of sciences, and in 1887 delivered his retiring address at the New York meeting on " What American Zoologists have done for Evolution." His scientific papers exceed fifty in number, besides less technical articles written for popular journals. He is the author of "First Book in Zoology" (New York, 1875), a favorite text-book, which has been translated into German and Japanese; and "Japanese Homes and their Surroundings" (Boston, 1885). Both of these works are illustrated by himself, and he possesses the rare accomplishment of drawing equally well with either hand.

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