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Charles Shepard

Charles Upham Shepard

June 29, 1804 - May 1, 1886

Charles Shepard, chemist and mineralogist, was born in Tiverton, Rhode Island, the son of Reverend Moses and Deborah Haskins Shepard.

An 1824 graduate of Amherst College, he served as a lecturer on natural history and as an assistant to Professor Benjamin Silliman at Yale University. During the winter of 1832-33 Shepard, under Silliman's direction, investigated the culture of sugar cane and its manufacture in the Southern States. The results of his investigations were incorporated into Silliman's report to the Secretary of the Treasury in 1833.

Shepard at the time was also involved with soil analysis; in 1840 he examined Edisto Island soil specimens for the Agricultural Society of St. John's Colleton, and discovered that the best land for sea island cotton had a natural lime component of 2 percent.

Shepard held the position of Professor of Chemistry at the South Carolina Medical College (1834-1861) during the winter semester.He also served as a lecturer and professor respectively in chemistry and natural history at Yale University and Amherst College.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, he returned to Amherst College and served as professor of chemistry and natural history with mineralogy as a specialty.

In 1865 Shepard returned to Charleston as professor of chemistry at the Medical College and retired from that position four years later. 

Benjamin Silliman, Jr. in American Contributions to Chemistry acknowledged the importance of Charles Shepard's discovery of South Carolina's phosphate deposits (1849):

"No observation or original research…has been fruitful of so much good in its consequences as his discovery…of the deposit of phosphate of lime in the Ecocene marl of South Carolina…its introduction into commerce on a vast scale, and the manufacture of superphosphate fertilizers not alone for this country, but for foreign export, led to the growth in consequence of an important industry in the chemical arts of Charleston."

The Phosphate Industry was crucially important to the economic recovery of the South after the Civil War, a fact that demonstrates the importance of science to commerce.
Shepard's collections of minerals and meteorlites were second only to that of the British Museum and the best in United States. Although the collection was mostly destroyed by fire in 1880, Shepard resumed collecting and bequeathed his collection to Amherst College.

Shepard House 68 Meeting Street

Shepard Analytical Chemistry Lab built by Charles U.Shepard Jr. 12 Ropemaker's Lane