Charles Henry Gilbert, Ph. D.

Below: Photograph of Charles Henry Gilbert.

Charles Henry Gilbert, born December 5, 1859, in Rockford, Illinois, spent his early years in Indianapolis, Indiana. In 1874, he came under the influence of his high school teacher, David Starr Jordan. After CH Gilbert graduated from high school in 1875, he followed Jordan to Northwestern Christian University (later Butler University) receiving a Bachelor of Arts (B. A.) degree in 1879. In 1877, Gilbert accompanied Dr. Jordan in a survey of the fish indigenous to the state of Georgia. When Jordan moved to Indiana University in the fall of 1879, Gilbert again followed. During that same year, Gilbert was appointed by Spencer Fullerton Baird, then Commissioner of the United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries, to serve as an assistant for Dr. Jordan's survey of the fish and fisheries of the Pacific Coast; a survey which Gilbert lengthened to include the Mazatlan and Panama. From the University of Indiana, Gilbert earned his Master of Science (M. S) degree in 1882, and his Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in 1883, in zoology with the river fishes being his specialty. His doctorate, awarded to Gilbert at the age of 24, was the first ever bestowed by Indiana University. (16) By the time Gilbert received his doctorate, he was the author or co-author of more than eighty scientific publications.

During the years 1880-1884, while at the University of Indiana, Gilbert first held the position of Instructor, and then Assistant Professor of Natural Sciences and Modern Languages. Gilbert next served as Professor of Natural History at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, from 1884-1888, returning to Indiana University in 1889, as Professor of Natural History. (17) In 1891, David Starr Jordan recruited Gilbert to the Leland Stanford Junior University, offering him the position of Professor of Zoology. Except for the four year period when CH Gilbert was a Professor at the University of Cincinnati, he remained academically associated with David Starr Jordan; beginning with his high school in Indianapolis, then Indiana University and finally Leland Stanford Jr. University, where, in 1925 he attained the status of emeritus professor. (18)


(16) Dunn, Richard J. (1996). Charles H. Gilbert, Pioneer Ichthyologist and Fishery Biologist. Marine Fisheries Review. 58:1-2.

(17) Gilbert Icthyological Society. Charles Henry Gilbert. Retrieved on April 10, 2013 from

(18) Jordan, David Starr. (1928). Charles Henry Gilbert. Science. 67 (1748) 644-645.