Amos Binney (1803 – 1847)

September 5, 2014

Amos Binney was born into a prominent family of New England merchants and professionals in October 1803. Although he received a degree in medicine from Harvard University in 1826, his true passion was for the natural sciences.

In 1830 Binney and a group of like-minded friends, including Augustus A. Gould (Lot #1467 Fir Avenue), established the Boston Society of Natural History.  A generous assemblage of shells, fossils, and minerals that Binney donated to the Society formed the nucleus of its collection.  In 1836, he was elected to the Massachusetts legislature and was instrumental in obtaining state support for geological, zoo-logical and botanical surveys.   Binney also held several offices, including Curator, prior to being elected President of the Boston Society of Natural History in 1843.

A few years later during a trip to Europe, Binney died suddenly in Rome at the age of 43. In keeping with his wishes, his widow returned his body to Boston to be buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery.  A book on land mollusks he was working on was published posthumously in 1851 granting the late Binney an international reputation in the scientific world of the time.

Amos Binney is buried in Lot #1391 on Heath Path at Mount Auburn Cemetery.  His marble memorial, carved by Thomas Crawford in 1847, is the only monument at Mount Auburn that has been designated an “American Treasure” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the White House Millennium Committee and has recently been conserved.



Portrait of Amos Binney: BSNH, CC BY 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

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