William Jacob Holland
William Jacob Holland was the eighth Chancellor
Chancellor (education)
A chancellor or vice-chancellor is the chief executive of a university. Other titles are sometimes used, such as president or rector....

 of the University of Pittsburgh
University of Pittsburgh
The University of Pittsburgh, commonly referred to as Pitt, is a state-related research university located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. Founded as Pittsburgh Academy in 1787 on what was then the American frontier, Pitt is one of the oldest continuously chartered institutions of...

 (1891–1901) and Director of the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh
Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh
Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh are four museums that are operated by the Carnegie Institute headquartered in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania...

. He was an accomplished zoologist and paleontologist, as well as an ordained Presbyterian minister.


Holland was born August 16, 1848 in Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

, West Indies, the son of a minister. He attended Moravian College
Moravian College
Moravian College a private liberal arts college, and the associated Moravian Theological Seminary are located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, United States, in the Lehigh Valley region.-History:...

 and Theological Seminary; Amherst College
Amherst College
Amherst College is a private liberal arts college located in Amherst, Massachusetts, United States. Amherst is an exclusively undergraduate four-year institution and enrolled 1,744 students in the fall of 2009...

, (A.B., 1869), and Princeton Theological Seminary
Princeton Theological Seminary
Princeton Theological Seminary is a theological seminary of the Presbyterian Church located in the Borough of Princeton, New Jersey in the United States...


In 1874 he moved to Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh is the second-largest city in the US Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the county seat of Allegheny County. Regionally, it anchors the largest urban area of Appalachia and the Ohio River Valley, and nationally, it is the 22nd-largest urban area in the United States...

, Pennsylvania to become pastor of the Bellefield Presbyterian Church in the city's Oakland
Oakland (Pittsburgh)
Oakland is the academic, cultural, and healthcare center of Pittsburgh and is Pennsylvania's third largest "Downtown". Only Center City Philadelphia and Downtown Pittsburgh can claim more economic and social activity than Oakland...

 neighborhood. At this time Holland was also a trustee of the Pennsylvania College for Women (now Chatham College
Chatham College
Chatham University is an American university with a women's undergraduate college and coeducational graduate programs through the doctoral level, located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's Shadyside neighborhood. The campus population of approximately 2,300 includes undergraduate women and graduate...

), where he taught ancient languages. He also was active in the sciences, serving as naturalist for the United States Eclipse Expedition, which in 1887, at the bequest of the National Academy of Sciences
United States National Academy of Sciences
The National Academy of Sciences is a corporation in the United States whose members serve pro bono as "advisers to the nation on science, engineering, and medicine." As a national academy, new members of the organization are elected annually by current members, based on their distinguished and...

 and the U.S. Navy, explored Japan. In 1879 Holland married Carrie T. Moorhead. They had two children.

In 1891 he became chancellor of Pitt, where he taught anatomy
Anatomy is a branch of biology and medicine that is the consideration of the structure of living things. It is a general term that includes human anatomy, animal anatomy , and plant anatomy...

 and zoology. His 1890s administration is best known for dramatically growing the university (then called the Western University of Pennsylvania). In 1901 his friend Andrew Carnegie
Andrew Carnegie
Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish-American industrialist, businessman, and entrepreneur who led the enormous expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th century...

 hired him as director of the Carnegie Museum, where he remained until retirement in 1922. He died on December 13, 1932.


Holland appears to have been a difficult man to work with. Given to tantrums, he was somewhat of a sycophant towards his betters (including Carnegie), and seemingly condescending when dealing with employees. However, in this he didn't really differ from his colleagues in Chicago or New York (such as H.F. Osborn
Henry Fairfield Osborn
Henry Fairfield Osborn, Sr. ForMemRS was an American geologist, paleontologist, and eugenicist.-Early life and career:...

). Despite maintaining a prime interest in lepidoptery, he did manage to train himself as a competent paleontologist when the directorship of the Carnegie Museum was thrust upon him.

As director of the Carnegie Museums, Holland achieved international renown for supervising the mounting of several casts of the sauropod dinosaur Diplodocus
Diplodocus , or )is a genus of diplodocid sauropod dinosaur whose fossils were first discovered in 1877 by S. W. Williston. The generic name, coined by Othniel Charles Marsh in 1878, is a Neo-Latin term derived from Greek "double" and "beam", in reference to its double-beamed chevron bones...

, a donation by Carnegie to natural history museums throughout Europe. His trip to Argentina in 1912 to install a replica of a Diplodocus, at the behest of Carnegie, is told by Holland in his 1913 travel book To the River Plate and Back. The Diplodocus campaign earned him his share of international recognition as well, in the form of a French legion d'honneur
Légion d'honneur
The Legion of Honour, or in full the National Order of the Legion of Honour is a French order established by Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul of the Consulat which succeeded to the First Republic, on 19 May 1802...

 and a German knight's cross, among others.

Holland was America's great popularizer of butterflies and moths in the first half of the twentieth century. Holland's The Butterfly Book (1898) and The Moth Book (1903) are both still widely used. Holland donated his private collection exceeding 250,000 specimens to the Carnegie Museum . He supported active collectors worldwide, obtaining major collections from previously uncollected regions between 1890 and 1930 through the efforts of William Doherty
William Doherty
William Doherty was an American entomologist who specialised in Lepidoptera and later also collected birds for the Natural History Museum at Tring ....

, Herbert Huntingdon Smith
Herbert Huntingdon Smith
Herbert Huntingdon Smith was an American naturalist who worked on the flora and fauna of Brazil. He wrote Brazil, the Amazons and the coast and Do Rio de Janeiro a Cuyabá: Notas de um naturalista .He first went to Brazil in 1870 on the Morgan expedition led by Charles Frederick Hartt...

, H.L. Weber, J. Steinbach, S.M. Klages and many others.


The University of Pittsburgh's Holland Hall at 3990 Fifth Avenue is named in his honor. It is a student residence for 600 upperclass and first-year women students and is part of the Schenley Quadrangle complex. The University Book Center is on the ground floor of Holland Hall.


  • Holland, W. J. (1898). The butterfly book; a popular guide to a knowledge of the butterflies of North America . New York: Doubleday & McClure. (Reprinted by Dover.)
  • Holland, W. J. (1913). To the River Plate and Back. The narrative of a scientific mission to South America, with observations on things seen and suggested . New York & London: G. P. Putnam's Sons. (on-line)
  • "William Jacob Holland" in American National Biography. New York: Oxford University Press
    Oxford University Press
    Oxford University Press is the largest university press in the world. It is a department of the University of Oxford and is governed by a group of 15 academics appointed by the Vice-Chancellor known as the Delegates of the Press. They are headed by the Secretary to the Delegates, who serves as...

    , 2004.
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