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Department ofVertebrate Zoology

Division of Fishes

Spencer F. Baird
Spencer F. Baird circa 1875
© Smithsonian Institution

George Suckley (1830-1869)

George Suckley
George Suckley
Courtesy of Smithsonian Institution Archives

George Suckley, physician and naturalist, was born in New York City, and studied medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons (now a part of Columbia University). After graduating M.D. in 1851, he served as resident surgeon in the New York Hospital.

In 1853, he was appointed assistant surgeon and naturalist to the Pacific Railroad Survey of the 47th and 49th parallels between St. Paul, Minnesota, and the Puget Sound. He accompanied General Isaac I. Stevens to the west coast, and later explored the Washington and Oregon territories. He resigned from the United States Army in 1856 to pursue his interests in natural history. Suckley's reports on the mammals, water birds, and fishes collected during the Pacific Railroad Surveys appeared in the official publication issued by Isaac I. Stevens (Supplementary Report of Explorations for a Route for a Pacific Railroad (1859), volume 12 of Pacific Railroad Surveys.) In addition, he wrote on the new species of Salmonidae collected by C.B.R. Kennerly during the Northwest Boundary Survey (1857). His monograph on Natural History of Washington Territory (1859), co-authored by James G. Cooper, was based on their survey of the northern Pacific Railroad route. George Suckley rejoined the Army at the outbreak of the Civil War and served as brigade surgeon in 1861, and staff surgeon to United States Volunteers from 1862 to 1865. He died in New York in July 1869.

The shark Squalus suckleyi (Girard, 1855) and the sucker Catostomus sucklii Girard, 1856 are named after George Suckley.

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