skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

William Dwight Whitney


American Sanskrit scholar, linguistic scientist, and lexicographer. Pursued botany and ornithology as a young man; presented a collection of stuffed birds (including the last wild turkey) to the Peabody Museum, Yale. Worked in his father’s bank, 1846–9. Accompanied his brother Josiah Whitney on a geological survey of the Lake Superior region in 1849 and contributed a chapter on botany to the survey report. Studied Sanskrit in Germany with Franz Bopp and others, 1850–3. Professor of Sanskrit at Yale, 1854, adding comparative philology in 1869. President, American Oriental Society, 1884–90; co-founder and first president, American Philological Association, 1869–70. Published extensively on grammar and oriental languages.