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James McCarthy

Scottish explorer, naturalist, surgeon, and philologist who opened up the Niger region to European trade and influence, was born in Kirkwall, Scotland, the eldest son of a Royal Navy captain, John Baikie. He was educated for a time at Kirkwall Grammar School in Orkney, but mainly privately, in company with his cousins. He gained a medical degree from Edinburgh University, where he also developed his interest in natural history. In 1848, together with Robert Heddie, he wrote the first part of a published study of the natural history of Orkney, Historia naturalis Orcadensis. In the same year he joined the Royal Navy as an assistant surgeon, serving on no less than five different ships in the Mediterranean before being appointed in the same capacity to Haslar Hospital, Portsmouth, from 1851 to 1854. It was from here in 1854 that through the patronage of the influential Sir Roderick ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

cartographer, ethnographer, and traveler to Africa, was born in Vienna, then capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the son of Heinrich Baumann, who worked at a bank, and a mother, whose name is not recorded. His family had some Jewish ancestry, which would in 1938 prompt the Nazi government of Austria to destroy a monument erected to celebrate his African exploration. Though his parents do not seem to have been very prosperous, his distant relations in the wealthy von Arnstein banking family paid for his secondary education. Baumann attended primary and secondary schools in Vienna, and at the age of seventeen, joined the Imperial Royal Geographical Society based in the same city. He did some geographical research in Montenegro and began to study geography and geology at the University of Vienna, but in 1885 took a leave of absence from school to join an Austrian expedition to Central ...

Article

Osire Glacier

Moroccan explorer, professor, and astronomer, was born on 11 October 1969 in Casablanca. Her father was a blacksmith and her mother a housewife who took care of the couple’s seven children. In spite of her humble origins, Chadid decided to be an astronomer at the age of twelve, when her brother Mustapha gave her a book by the famous astronomer Johannes Kepler. Since then, she has pursued her goal one step at a time.

During her adolescent years, Chadid read extensively about the sky, the stars, and the planets. In 1992 she graduated with a master s degree in Physics from the University of Casablanca After graduation Chadid faced a difficult decision leave her family in order to pursue the relevant field of study for her professional objectives at a French university or remain with her family and renounce the opportunity to turn her passion into a profession The ...

Article

Jason Philip Miller

astronaut and pilot, was born Benjamin Alvin Drew Jr. into a middle-class home in Washington, D.C., to Muriel and Benjamin Drew Sr. Drew attended local schools and one day in class was inspired by viewing the launch of Apollo 7 (1968), the first manned space flight after the Apollo 1 disaster (1967) killed all three members of the crew. Drew later reported that from that day on, the path of his life was set. Everything he did in his education was aimed at flying in outer space. That was no simple goal. Applicants to the astronaut-training program of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) were legion, but NASA selected only a tiny fraction of them to participate. The number of successful African American applicants was fewer still.

Drew graduated from Gonzaga College High School in 1980 and from there he matriculated in the U ...

Article

Raymond Dumett

treaty maker, cartographer, and one of the great West Africans of his generation, was born to an African mother and a Scottish father in the central coastal town of Anomabu in the Gold Coast’s Fanti region in present-day Ghana. Like several prominent members of the African middle class, he was educated at the famous Wesleyan School of Cape Coast. He also attended school in Sierra Leone. On the basis of strong recommendations, Ferguson was selected to join the colonial government as a clerk in 1881. In 1884 he began his career as a mapmaker by drawing a map of the Gold Coast Colony and Protectorate which was of assistance to the governor in showing the approximate boundaries of various linguistic groups their states and chieftaincies Ferguson proceeded from strength to strength and with each new job effectively completed he was rewarded with greater responsibilities by the colonial government ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

astronaut, was born Joan Elizabeth Miller Higginbotham in Chicago, Illinois, to Inez and William Higginbotham. She graduated from Chicago's highly selective Whitney M. Young Magnet High School in 1982, one year after future First Lady Michelle Obama. Higginbotham, who had excelled in math and science in high school, then entered Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering in 1987. She had not grown up dreaming of becoming an astronaut, or even of working in the space industry. Indeed, it was not until 1983, when Higginbotham was an undergraduate, that the first American woman, Sally Ride, and the first African American man, Guion S. Bluford, entered space. (Valentina Tereshkova, a Soviet Cosmonaut, was the first woman in space, twenty years earlier, in 1963 while the first person of African descent in space was Arnaldo Tamayo Ménde ...

Article

Russell Hopley

geographer, was born in the Moroccan city of Sabta (present-day Ceuta). Al-Sharif al-Idrisi completed his early education in Cordoba and subsequently spent time in Malaga, an Andalusian city that had been ruled by the Banu Hammud, a family of Arab noblemen descended from the Prophet. Idrisi's grandfather had been the final Arab ruler of Malaga, and the family's fortunes suffered considerably following the Almoravid occupation of Islamic Spain, an event that proved central in determining the course of Idrisi's life.

Idrisi's stay in Malaga appears to have been cut short by the political turmoil that marked the final decade of Almoravid rule in Andalusia, and he next appears in Palermo, Sicily, in 1139, where he was given sanctuary at the Norman court of Roger II Idrisi would spend the following two decades at the Norman court in Sicily and it was there that he composed the monumental ...

Article

James McCarthy

Scottish explorer and geographer of Africa, was born in Edinburgh in 1844. Alexander Keith Johnston was the son of the eminent geographer and cartographer of the same name, who had established the highly respected engraving and mapmaking firm of W. & A. K. Johnston with his brother William. Although the young Keith was educated at prestigious schools in the Scottish capital, he was also tutored carefully by his father, and learned those European languages in which significant geographical material was published. Like his father, Keith’s interest extended well beyond conventional cartography, and he made important contributions to oceanography, hydrology, and global climatic influences. Both were influential figures in the Royal Geographical Society (RGS), itself the most important national institution in the promotion of worldwide discovery and the development of the nineteenth-century British Empire, not least in Africa.

After a period as superintendent of drawing and engraving at the prestigious ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

explorer and geographer, was born on 14 September 1848 in Leipzig, then in the German kingdom of Saxony. He was the son of a shoemaker. After graduating from secondary school at the Nicolaigymnasium, he went to the University of Leipzig. In 1870 he earned a degree in geography from this institution. From 1870 to 1873 he taught at a private school in Vienna, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire became his permanent home for the rest of his life. After having joined the Austro-Hungarian civil service and prepared maps on some of its eastern and southern territories for two years, Lenz decided to become an African explorer in 1874 The Deutschen Gesellschaft zur Erforschung Äquatorial Afrikas DAG a German organization dedicated to exploration in central Africa recruited Lenz to visit the French colony of Gabon There Lenz was to travel up the Ogooué River to see if it connected with ...

Article

Ariel Bookman

Kenyan pioneer, horse trainer, aviator, and memoirist, was born on 26 October 1902 in Ashwell, Leicestershire, England, to Charles Clutterbuck, a former army officer, and Clara, née Alexander. Her parents, attracted by the intensive British government effort to promote white settlement in Kenya (then British East Africa), moved there with Beryl and her older brother Richard in 1904. Beryl’s early life was thus shaped by the unique opportunities open to a white child in a frontier colony: she spoke Swahili nearly as early as she did English; learned hunting, games, and mythology from her father’s Nandi tenants; and grew to recognize herself as part of Africa. As she phrased it in her 1942 memoir West with the Night with characteristic, figurative simplicity, “My feet were on the earth of Africa” (134).

Her mother soon returned with Richard to England where she remarried According to one of Markham s biographers ...

Article

Jason Philip Miller

astronaut and military pilot, was born in Lynchburg, Virginia, one of two children of Deems and Grace Melvin, both middle-school teachers. He attended the local Heritage High School, where he was a strong student and an outstanding athlete. Melvin set his sights on a career in the National Football League, and when he graduated from high school in 1982, he matriculated at the University of Richmond on a football scholarship.

As a wide receiver for the Richmond Spiders, Melvin set a number of school records, including one for number of receptions, some of which continue to stand as of this writing. In his senior year, he was named National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I All-American. He graduated from Richmond in 1986 with a bachelor's degree in chemistry. He entered the National Football League draft and was drafted by the Detroit Lions in 1986 but a hamstring injury in ...

Article

Charles Withers

Scottish physician, botanist, and explorer, was the first European to return safely having observed the west–east course of the River Niger. His significance stems from this geographical accomplishment, from the much reprinted book of his first expedition, Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa, first published in 1799, and from his “heroic” failure and death in 1806, in circumstances that are still unclear, on a further Niger expedition. His second posthumously published work, published in 1815, and drawn from Park’s surviving papers and reports, began the process of Park’s biographical commemoration.

Park was born near Selkirk in Scotland on or about 11 September 1771, the seventh of thirteen children. Park was educated at home, at Selkirk Grammar School, and, from 1789, in the University of Edinburgh, where he studied medicine. In November of 1792 Park was introduced to Sir Joseph Banks by his brother ...

Article

Trevor Hall

was born in Lisbon in mid-fifteenth century. His father João Pereira was from a distinguished Portuguese family. Not much is known about his early life. His earliest biographical information dates to 1471, when he was a soldier in the Portuguese army that capture captured Arzila, in Muslim Morocco. Pereira’s reason for renown is that he was the governor of the Portuguese-built Elmina fortress, on the Gold Coast of modern-day Ghana in 1482. He was the first Portuguese to sail to West Africa and write a long narrative about Portuguese maritime trade in West Africa, from the Sahara to the Congo and beyond. His Esmeraldo de Situ Orbis (1508) was translated into English by the Hakluyt Society.

Pereira was an exceptional cartographer who mapped the West African coast from Morocco to South Africa. He provided data on Atlantic winds, currents and tides, and wrote roteiro Portuguese ...

Article

Jason Philip Miller

astronaut and medical doctor, was born Robert Lee Satcher Jr. in Hampton, Virginia, the eldest of four children of Marian and Robert Satcher. Satcher's father was a chemistry professor at Hampton University, and it was that science background—along with a professed love of the popular science-fiction films of the 1970s (George Lucas'sStar Wars chief among them)—that bequeathed to the young Satcher both an interest in science and a fascination with outer space.

Satcher attended local schools in Hampton, including Spratley Middle School and Denmark-Olar High School, from which he graduated in 1982. He matriculated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and from that institution earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering in 1986. He stayed on at MIT and in 1993 earned a PhD in chemical engineering. A year later, 1994 he was attending Harvard Medical School from which he graduated with a degree in ...

Article

Jason Philip Miller

astronaut, was born Winston Elliott Scott in Miami, Florida, to Rubye Scott (maiden name unknown) and Alston Scott. Information about his parents is difficult to come by. What is known is that Scott attended local schools and was a gifted student, showing a particular interest in music. He graduated from Coral Gables High School in 1968 and matriculated at Florida State University, from which he earned a bachelor's degree in music in 1972. After graduation Scott's career plans changed, however, and he applied for and was accepted into the Naval Aviation Officer Candidate School with the goal of becoming a pilot.

Two years later, in 1974 Scott earned his helicopter wings and went on to serve with the Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron Light 33 unit in northern California Four years later he enrolled in the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey California and earned a master s degree in aeronautical ...

Article

Strabo  

Daniela Dueck

Hellenistic geographer and historian, of Amasia, Pontus, was born and raised in Amasia in northern Asia Minor and educated by renowned Hellenistic Asian teachers. His ancestors on his mother’s side were companions of the kings of Pontus but supported the Romans during the Mithridatic War. In his adult life Strabo visited and lived in Rome, Alexandria, Nysa, and possibly Smyrna and Athens. In Rome (in 44 and 29 BCE) he met and socialized with Roman notables and Greek intellectuals. In 25 BCE he traveled to Egypt with Aelius Gallus the Roman governor. He probably got as far as many other regions in the world, more than he expressly reveals. After writing earlier historiographical work(s), Strabo composed his Geography sometime between 18 and 23 CE and died in Rome or, less likely, in Asia Minor.

His works included (1) History a survey of events at least from the time of ...

Article

Trevor Hall

was born on 9 March 1454, but became a naturalized citizen of Spain in 1505. His father, Nastagio Vespucci, and mother, Lisabetta Mani, were friends of the powerful Medici family who governed much of Italy. Vespucci’s reason for renown is that he was the first to recognize South America was a continent separate from Asia, and one of the first to sail from Europe to West Africa then directly to South America, before returning to Europe. He completed the triangular transatlantic trade, without transporting enslaved Africans across the Atlantic. In 1502, while sailing with the Portuguese, Vespucci navigated from Portugal to West Africa and then directly to South America. Four years before Vespucci sailed from Portugal, another Italian, Christopher Columbus had sailed from the Portuguese Cape Verde Islands to South America, also without enslaved Africans. Two decades later in 1518 the Spanish king authorized merchants to ...

Article

Jason Philip Miller

astronaut and scientist, was born Stephanie Diana Wilson in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of Eugene Wilson, an electrical engineer, and Barbara Wilson, who worked in aerospace. The family relocated to the small town of Pittsfield, in western Massachusetts, when Stephanie was a child, and it was there that she was raised and attended local schools. She was a good student, with interests in music, sports, and science. When she was thirteen, she interviewed an astronomy professor as part of a “career awareness” class and project. She was inspired and later would recount that moment as the one that helped to plot her future course.

Wilson graduated from Taconic High School in 1984 and matriculated late that year at Harvard College, from which she earned a bachelor's in engineering science four years later. She went on to the University of Texas and received a master's in aerospace engineering in 1992 ...