Albert Huntington Chester, 1843 - 1903

by Brian Stevenson
last updated December, 2017

Albert Chester was a professor of mineralogy and chemistry. As might be expected, all of his known microscope slides are of mineral specimens (Figure 1). He was a professor at Hamilton College, Clinton, New York (near Syracuse) from 1870 until 1891, and professor at Rutgers College, New Brunswick, New Jersey from 1891 until his death in 1903. He amassed a considerable collection of more than 4700 different minerals, which was donated to Rutgers upon his death (Figure 3).

As is the case with many American slide-makers, Chester’s mounts are not encountered very often. This is probably because so few Americans realize their value. Chester’s known slides are very well produced, with colorful ringing and overall artistic construction. His deep mounts, containing specimens of about 1mm in height, tend to be uncovered, which permits close examination with high-powered microscope lenses.

Figure 1. Microscope slides by A.H. Chester. All are of mineral specimens. The top two are deep mounts, without covers, permitting close microscopical examination of the ca. 1mm tall specimens. The lower slide is of small crystals, and is covered.


Figure 2. Albert H. Chester. Adapted from “The Mineral Collector”, 1903.


Albert Huntington Chester was born on November 22, 1843, in Saratoga Springs, New York. He was a son of Elizabeth Stanley Chester and the Reverend Albert Tracy Chester, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church.

He was a member of the second graduating class of the Columbia School of Mines, New York City, in 1868. In 1870, he took the position of Professor of Chemistry at Hamilton College, in Clinton, New York. Chester earned a Ph.D. from Columbia School of Mines in 1878.

Chester performed considerable field research, investigating mineral deposits throughout the US and Canada. Important publications included The Iron Region of Central New York, and The Iron Region of Northern Minnesota. It was said that, “the investment of millions of dollars has been determined by Professor Chester's reports, and in no instance have his conclusions been found inaccurate or misleading”.

In 1882, he was also appointed as Chemist to the New York State Board of Health, where he performed services such as purity analyses of foods.

Another major work, A Catalogue of Minerals, Alphabetically Arranged, with their Chemical Composition and Synonyms, was first published in 1886. Two revised editions were later published

Chester accepted the position of Professor of Chemistry and Mineralogy at Rutgers College in 1891. The following year, he was also appointed as the Curator of the Rutgers College Geology Museum.

In recognition of his contributions to science, Chester was elected as a Fellow of the New York Academy of Sciences in 1902.

Arthur Chester married twice, in 1869 to Alethea Sanford Rudd (1840-1891), and in 1898 to Georgiana Waldron Jenks (1856-1943). He and Alethea had one child, Albert Huntington Chester, Jr. (1870-1940).

Chester died on April 13, 1903, from complications of a longstanding heart condition.

Figure 3. A portion of the Chester Mineral Collection, Rutgers University. Adapted for nonprofit, educational purposes from



Allison, Charles E. (1889) A Historical Sketch of Hamilton College, Clinton, New York, Self-published, Yonkers

Chester, Albert H. (1881) The Iron Region of Central New York, E.H. Roberts & Co., Utica, N.Y.

Chester, Albert H. (1884) The iron region of northern Minnesota, Annual Report of the Minnesota Geological Survey, No. 11, 154-167

Chester, Albert H. (1886) A Catalogue of Minerals: Alphabetically Arranged, with Their Chemical Composition and Synonyms, J. Wiley & Sons, New York

Chester, Albert H. (1888) A mangano-magnesium magnetite, The Mineralogical Magazine and Journal of the Mineralogical Society, Volume 8, pages 125-126

Chester, Albert H. (1892) A Catalogue of Minerals: Alphabetically Arranged, with Their Chemical Composition and Synonyms, Second edition, J. Wiley & Sons, New York

Chester, Albert H. (1897) A Catalogue of Minerals: Alphabetically Arranged, with Their Chemical Composition and Synonyms, Third edition, J. Wiley & Sons, New York

The Chester Mineral Collection (accessed December, 2017)

Genealogical information accessed from

The Mineral Collector (1903) Death of Dr. A.H. Chester, Vol. 10, page 53

Valiant, W.S. (1903) Dr. Chester: his life and collection, The Mineral Collector, Vol. 10, pages 49-53

Wilson, Wendell E. (2017) Albert H. Chester, The Mineralogical Record,