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Albert H. Chester

Albert Huntington Chester was born in Saratoga Springs, New York on November 22, 1843, the son of the Rev. Albert Tracy Chester, D.D., and Elizabeth Stanley. He received his degree in Mining Engineering from the Columbia School of Mines (1868), A..M. from Union College (1872), PhD from Columbia (1878) and D.Sc from Hamilton College in New York (1891), where he served as Professor of Chemistry from 1870 until 1891. During the years 1875 to 1880 he was engaged in exploring the great iron deposits of the Vermilion district in Minnesota. A full account of this work is given in the "Tenth Annual Report of the Geology of Minnesota." In 1891 he took the position of Professor of Chemistry and Mineralogy at Rutgers College in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and Curator of the Rutgers College Geology Museum (beginning in 1896), serving on various committees for the college and as a member of many scientific societies. He was elected a Fellow of the New York Academy of Sciences in 1902. Chester married Alethea S. Rudd of New York City in 1869. When she died in 1891, he married Georgiana Waldron Jenks of Buffalo in 1898.

Beginning at the close of the Civil War, Chester built a large personal mineral collection which at the time of his death contained 4,730 specimens representing 1,330 species and varieties (at a time when the total number of valid species was about 1,000). It was a teaching and research collection "designed to illustrate all the parts of mineralogy, as crystallography and amorphism; physical characters in general; chemical composition; scientific classification, etc.," and as a whole it was said to well illustrate Dana's System of Mineralogy. The collection went to Rutgers after his death.

Chester also assembled a collection of early mineralogical books and journals that William S. Valiant called "undoubtedly the most complete in this country." The materials in the library (dating back to 1728) were gathered primarily as resources for Chester's book, A Dictionary of the Names of Minerals, Including their History and Etymology (1896), containing 4,627 mineral names, and Chester estimated that his library had cost him about $1 per mineral name. He had also previously published a Catalogue of Minerals, with Chemical Composition and Synonyms (New York, 1886).

Chester was also a stamp collector in his leisure time, and his collection was considered one of the finest in the country. He died April 13, 1903 from a longstanding heart condition, and was survived by one son, Albert Huntington Chester, Jr.. Chester was a generous philanthropist and active church member of the Collegiate Reformed Church, and was also fond of fishing; he owned one of the islands in Little Rideau Lake in Canada, where he took annual fishing vacations.

VALIANT, W. S. (1903) Dr. Chester: his life and collection. The Mineral Collector, 10 (4), 49-53.
JACOBSON, S. (1991) Guide to the Albert Huntington Chester Papers, 1871-1903. Special collections and University Archives, Rutgers University.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2020)
Mineralogical Record
Biographical Archive, at]
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The Mineralogical Record - Albert H. Chester Albert H. Chester
The Mineralogical Record - Albert H. Chester 34 x 64 mm,
Clinton, New York address, where he lived while teaching at Hamilton College, 1870-1891.
The Mineralogical Record - Albert H. Chester 31 x 36 mm,
Clinton, New York address, where he lived while teaching at Hamilton College, 1870-1891.
The Mineralogical Record - Albert H. Chester 39 x 49 mm,
Clinton, New York address, where he lived while teaching at Hamilton College, 1870-1891.
The Mineralogical Record - Albert H. Chester 39 x 49 mm
The Mineralogical Record - Albert H. Chester 38 x 63 mm,
Probably from his early years at Rutgers, 1890'S.
The Mineralogical Record - Albert H. Chester 35 x 63 mm,
Probably Chester's most recent label type, 1890-1903 (all have high catalog numbers).
The Mineralogical Record - Albert H. Chester 32 x 48 mm,
Rutgers Geology Museum exhibit label for a specimen from Albert H. Chester's collection (post-1903).
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