Reference Work Entry

Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

pp 414-415


Chauvenet, William

  • Mark D. MeyersonAffiliated withUnited States Naval Academy

BornMilford, Pennsylvania, USA, 24 May 1820

DiedSaint Paul, Minnesota, USA, 13 December 1870

William Chauvenet, who was instrumental in founding the United States Naval Academy and later served as chancellor of Washington University, introduced many American students to astronomy, mathematics, and navigation through his widely used textbooks and journal articles.

Chauvenet’s father, William Marc Chauvenet, who was born in Narbonne, France, in 1790, left France after the defeat of Napoleon to come to the United States, where he met and married the former Mary B. Kerr of Boston. They briefly farmed near Milford, Pennsylvania, where William was born. The family moved to Philadelphia in 1821. After receiving his preparatory education there, Chauvenet attended Yale University from 1836 to 1840, studying mathematics and classics, and graduating with high honors. Chauvenet worked briefly for Alexander Bache making magnetic observations at the Gerard College Observatory before accepting, in 1841, ...

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