Scientist. He had a long career as a zoologist, herpetologist, physician, naturalist and author. Born in the deep South, he moved to Wrentham, Massachusetts when almost two years old, and it was there where his education began. His secondary education was continued in Providence, Rhode Island at Brown University where he graduated in 1815. After graduation he moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he completed his medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania in 1818. He moved to Boston, Massachusetts shortly afterwards and began to practice medicine, but before long he came to the realization that he wanted to see more of the world. He first went to London, England, then Edinburgh, Scotland, and continued his medical studies in the Scottish capital where he remained for two years. He next traveled through, France, Germany and England. While in France he studied with Gabriel Bibron, Achille Valenciennes and Andre Dumeril, all world renown zoologists of the time. His long time friend Louis Agassiz would later remark that Holbrook's time in Paris had a greater influence upon his future life than any other event. While in Paris he worked at the Jardin des Plantes, and became life long friends with some of the leading scientific men of the day. In 1822 he returned to America and settled in Charleston, South Carolina and opened a medical practice. By 1824 he along with other Charleston physicians founded what is now "The Medical College of South Carolina" and was elected professor of anatomy. After assuming the chairmanship at the Medical University he undertook the labor of monographing the reptiles of the United States, which at the time there was no other reference to include all the species. Shortly after his arrival in Charleston he outlined his work in herpetology and engaged an artist to draw a representation of the reptiles. His work was eventually published in five volume's and titled "Herpetology of the United States." In 1847 he published a "Description of the Fishes Inhabiting the Waters of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida," and in 1855 published the "Ichthyology of South Carolina" in ten parts. His epic work, "North American Herpetology is considered one of the most valuable works on reptiles published during the 19th century. He was regarded as the 'leading American zoologist of his day. He died a broken man having lost all his research, collections and books when the Union forces took Charleston and either burned or otherwise destroyed his life's work in the process. He died at the home of his sister in Massachusetts. Present-day naturalists recognize Holbrook as an important figure in the history of herpetology. Of the genera and species of reptiles, amphibians, and fish of which the discovery or earliest description is credited to Holbrook, many still carry the genus name Holbrookia or the species name holbrookii.
Bio by: Saratoga
Harriott Pinckney Rutledge Holbrook