Charles Schuchert
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Charles Schuchert

Charles Schuchert (b. 1856, d. 1942) was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on July 3, 1856, to Philip and Agatha (Mueller) Schuchert. His father was a woodworker and his parents were in the furniture business. At first, Charles was destined to work in the family business as a bookkeeper, but when he failed to grasp the details of accounting, at the age of 12 he was placed in the varnish room. He spent the next 14 years working for his father or himself, and eventually set up his own business.

Fate intervened for Schuchert when he met Edward O. Ulrich, a fellow Cincinnati native and fossil hunter. For 10 glorious years the 2 were nearly inseparable, collecting local fossils and then later working together in the preparation of paleontological monographs. In 1888, Shuchert moved to Albany, New York, to further his apprenticeship with the “great professor” James Hall. There, in the company of Hall, John Clarke (New York State Museum) and Charles E. Beecher (Yale University), Schuchert expanded his geological horizons and furthered his knowledge of brachiopods through his collaboration with these 3 workers.

Schuchert was on the move again in 1892, with a brief stop at Yale University for a year, while he worked with Beecher preparing slabs of Crawfordsville crinoids for the “Chicago Exposition.” From Yale, Schuchert went to the U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. National Museum, where he spent 10 years working with Charles D. Walcott on the invertebrate fossil collections and museum exhibits.

In September 1904 Schuchert was called to Yale University to fill the void vacated by Beecher, who had died earlier that year. At Yale Schuchert’s leadership abilities soon became apparent, and he was appointed to the board of the Sheffield Scientific School (1904–1925), Chair of the Geology Department (1909–1921), and as administrative head of the Yale Peabody Museum (1904–1923). During Schuchert’s tenure he more than doubled the invertebrate fossil collections and trained many of the following generations of eminent paleontologists and stratigraphers.