Albert Samuel Gatschet

Albert Samuel Gatschet, philologist and ethnologist, son of the Reverend Earl Albert Gatschet and Mary Ziegler, was born its Saint Beatenberg, Switzerland, October 3, 1832, and died at his home in Washington, D. C., March 16, 1907.The mother dying when he was about ten years old, the boy came under the care of his elder sister, Louise, for whom to the day of his death he cherished always the most tender affection. This childhood bereavement, which was accentuated by the austere disposition of his father, by throwing the child upon his own lonely resources, left a deep impress upon his after life. After some years at the lyceums of Neuchatel and Bern, where already he displayed a marked linguistic aptitude, he entered the University of Bern in 1852, spending six years here and later at the University of Berlin, with special attention to languages, history, art, and theology, his favorite studies being the Greek language and doctrinal criticism. At one time it was even his intention to enter the ministry, but the linguistic bent overmastered this desire, and later in life he ceased to regard spiritual things. The great Humboldt was then in Berlin, still writing books in his ninetieth year, and the inspiration of his wonderful career was not lost upon young Gatschet who pat-terned after him in depth and range of knowledge.On completing his course at the university he returned to his native city, where he became a contributor to various scientific and literary journals. In 1867 he published his first large work, Ortsetymologische Forschungen, a philologic study of Swiss place-names in their Keltic, Latin, German, French, and even Arabic origins. It is still the standard authority. He soon after spent a study season in the museums of Paris and London.In January, 1868, he moved to the United States in order to study Native American languages, in which field he was a pioneer. He resided in New York City, where for some years he continued as a teacher of languages and an industrious contributor on scientific subjects to both foreign and domestic journals, writing with equal fluency in French and German, as well as, with less ease, in English.He became an ethnologist of the US Geological Survey. In 1879 he became a member of the Bureau of American Ethnology, which was part of the Smithsonian Institution. Gatschet published his observations of the Karankawa people of Texas. His study of the Klamath people located in present-day Oregon, published in 1890, is recognized as outstanding.
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