The Cycle of Life:
An History of Experimental Ecology

Sterling Memorial
Kline Sciences
Medical Historical
Exhibit Map

In the mid-nineteenth century, agricultural chemists studying at Yale strove to reform agriculture in New England. At the center of their efforts lay the new principles of organic chemistry that they had imbibed first from their American teachers, such as Benjamin Silliman, and later from their training abroad with several leading agricultural chemists. This training taught the American students to see and investigate nature as a circulation of matter passing through the soil, plants, and animals and back again into the soil. In the 1830s and 1840s, John Pitkin Norton developed this holistic vision of the "cycle of life" into a program of scientific agriculture that he promoted across New England and taught to his students at Yale University’s Sheffield Scientific School. One student, William Henry Brewer continued this tradition from the 1850s to the early twentieth century, training numerous students in agricultural chemistry, forestry and bacteriology.

norton portrait
There are two biographical cases:

John Pitkin Norton, 1822-1852

William Henry Brewer, 1826-1910
Lloyd Ackert
Whitney Humanities Center
Yale University
53 Wall Street
P.O. Box 208298
New Haven, CT 06520-8298
Office: (203).432.3112

The Exhibit is located at Manuscripts and Archives, in the lobby of the Library Lecture Hall.

Manuscripts and Archives
Sterling Memorial Library
130 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06520-8240

Contact information.