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Martin Rickenbacher:

Ferdinand Rudolf Hassler and the survey of Switzerland 1791–1803

Cartographica Helvetica 36 (2007) 11–25


Ferdinand Rudolf Hassler (1770–1843) from Aarau was an outstanding scientist of international standing. This report focuses on his contribution to the survey in Switzerland before his emigration in 1805. Based on the education and experience he gained from his private tutor, Professor Johann Georg Tralles (1763–1822) in Bern, Hassler undertook numerous surveys beginning in 1791 and recorded the observations in his two field books.

He was engaged and influential in several domains during the founding of the Helvetic Republic. As a politically aware surveyor, it was clear to him that national surveying as well as the standardization of weights and measures were part of the central tasks of a modern state. After the collapse of the "one and indivisible Helvetic Republic", he sought a new challenge in the United States of America where he successfully applied the knowledge he had acquired in Switzerland to build up the coast survey and the bureau of weights and measures.

Bibliographic note

  • Based on a paper read at the 22nd International Conference on the History of Cartography, Bern, 8th to 13th July 2007

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