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Gustavus Hinrichs Papers

Identifier: RG99.0039

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Scope and Contents

The Gustavus Detlef Hinrichs Papers at the University of Iowa Archives consist of his publications. In addition, his papers reside at the Illinois Historical Survey, University of Illinois Library, at Urbana. The first box includes articles by Hinrichs that were collected by James P. Wells.


  • Creation: 1864 - 1890


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Biographical / Historical

Gustavus Detlef Hinrichs was born in Lunden, on December 2, 1836. Lunden is now within Germany, but was part of Denmark in 1836, and he considered himself to be Danish. He attended the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1853, followed by the Polytechnic School in the same city. He earned the C.P. degree at the latter institution in 1860, and emigrated from Denmark to the United States during the summer of 1861, settling first in Davenport, Iowa, where he taught at a district school and later taugh at a high school. His first marriage, in 1860, was to Auguste C. F. Springer. With the death of his wife, he married Auguste's sister, Anna, in 1867. His children were Gustavus John, Anna, and Carl Gustave.

In addition to the C.P. degree earned in Denmark, Hinrichs took the A.M. degree at Griswold College in Poultney, Vermont, in 1870. In 1872 he took the M.D. at Missouri Medical College, and the LL.D. at Griswold College in 1884.

Hinrichs conducted research and published in many fields, including chemistry, physics, astronomy, meteorology, and geology. Among his many accomplishments while affiliated with the University of Iowa, Dr. Hinrichs was one of six researchers credited with the creation of the Periodic System of Elements during the 1860s. In the field of astronomy, Hinrichs wrote about the Amana Colonies meteorite shower, which fell on February 12, 1875 in Iowa County, Iowa.

Possessing a keen interest in meteorology, Dr. Hinrichs made early weather recordings, and in 1875 established the first state weather and crop service in the United States, named the Iowa Weather Service. Dr. Hinrichs was the director of the Iowa Weather Service from 1875 to 1889. He used his own personal funds to support the project, until state funding was finally available in 1878 for equipment only, with no funding provided for salaries. In this capacity during the 1880s, he termed the phrase derecho for straight-line winds.

Dr. Hinrichs was fluent in Danish, French, German, Italian, and English, and knew some Greek and Latin. He joined the faculty at the University of Iowa on August 13, 1863 as teacher of Modern Languages, which continued for one year. In June 1864, he was named professor and taught physical science in the Department of Chemistry and Natural Philosophy. He also became director of the laboratory. Hinrichs left the University of Iowa on March 2, 1886, following 22 years of service.

Dr. Hinrichs moved to St. Louis in 1889, and served as professor in the St. Louis University Chemistry Department, within the College of Pharmacy. In 1903, St. Louis University named him professor of chemistry within the Medical College. He served in both capacities until his retirement in 1907. Gustavus Hinrichs continued researching his many areas of interest until his death on February 14, 1923, at age 86.


1.00 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Professor of Chemistry at the University of Iowa, 1863-1886. Founder of the Iowa Weather Service, the first state weather and crop service in the United States.

Method of Acquisition

These materials were transferred to the University Archives prior to 1970.

Related Materials

Folder, "Hinrichs, Gustavus," Faculty and Staff Vertical Files collection (RG01.0015.003)

Papers of Charles H. Preston (RG02.0009.007) [Student notes of two courses taught by Professor Hinrichs.]

Papers of George W. Stewart (RG99.0141)

Papers of James P. Wells (RG99.0143)

Records of the Manuscript File Collection on Early University History (RG01.0001.001), boxes 21-22. [Correspondence regarding Hinrichs' dismissal.]

Hinrichs, Adelaide. "The Life of My Grandfather." Typescript, University High School, University of Iowa, n.d. 7 pp., in Historical Papers Collection (RG01.0001.003).

Hinrichs, Jeanne A. "Gustavus Detlef Hinrichs." Typescript, 1946. 35 pp. Archives, in Historical Papers Collection (RG01.01.03). Iben, Icko. Gustavus Detlef Hinrichs Collection, an Inventory. Urbana: University of Illinois Library, 1967

Keyes, Charles. "Contributions to Knowledge by Gustavus Detlef Hinrichs, M.D., LL.D." Iowa Academy of Science Proceedings 31 (1924): 79-94.

Keyes, Charles. "Gustavus Detlef Hinrichs." Iowa Academy of Science Proceedings 30 (1923): 28-31, illus. Nipher, Francis E. An Address to the Alumni of the State University of Iowa, on the Present Condition of the University. St. Louis: Nixon-Jones Print Co., 1886. 22 pp. [Regarding Hinrichs' dismissal.]

Nipher, Francis E. "Early Instruction in Physics in Iowa."Iowa Historical Record 11 (October 1895): 349-352. Hinrichs at UI, 1870-1872. Wylie, Charles Clayton. "Gustavus Detlef Hinrichs." Palimpsest 11 (May 1930): 193-201, illus.

Denise Anderson, September 2007
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Iowa Archives Repository

100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242