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Dictionary of US History
|African-Americans||Artists||Explorers of the US||Inventors||US Presidents|
|Cabeza de Vaca, Alvar Nunez
Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca [Cabeza de Vaca means "head of a cow"] (1490?-1557?) was a Spanish explorer who sailed to North America from Spain, leaving in 1527. He traveled from Florida to Texas on a raft, then walked from Texas to Mexico City. He also explored the Paraguay River in South America. De Vaca and his fellow travelers were the first Europeans to see the bison, or American buffalo.
John Cabot (1450-1499) was an Italian-born English explorer and navigator. In Italy, he is known as Giovanni Caboto (which is his original name).
See John Cabot (above).
|Cabrillo, Juan Rodriguez
Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo (? -1543) was a Spanish or Portuguese explorer (his nationality is uncertain). Cabrillo was the first European explorer of the Californian coast. In 1542, he sailed from Acapulco to southern California, claiming California for King Charles I of Spain. Cabrillo named San Diego Bay and Santa Barbara. He died on San Miguel Island (in the Santa Barbara Channel) after a fight with Indians, from complications resulting from a broken leg.
|Cadillac, Antoine de
Antonie Laumet de La Mothe de Cadillac ( March 5, 1658 - Oct. 15, 1730) was a French explorer, soldier, and leader. Cadillac founded the city of Detroit in 1701 and was the governor of the Louisiana Territory from 1710 to 1716 or 1717.
|Cannon, Annie J.
Annie Jump Cannon (1863-1941) was an American astronomer who cataloged 225,300 stars in the HD (Henry Draper) catalog; every star is classified by its stellar spectra. Cannon and Edward C. Pickering (director of the Harvard Observatory) published the original HD catalog (9 volumes) from 1918 to 1924. The catalog was later expanded by Cannon and Margaret W. Mayall in 1949.
|Carlson, Chester F.
Chester Floyd Carlson (1906-1968) invented xerography (which means "dry writing" in Greek) in 1938. Xerography makes paper copies without using ink (hence its name). In this process, static electricity charges a lighted plate; a plastic powder (called toner) is applied to the areas of the page to remain white.
Chester F. Carlson was born in Seattle, Washington, USA. As a teenager, Carlson supported his invalid parents by publishing a chemical journal. After attending Cal Tech in physics, Carlson worked at an electronics firm. Carlson later experimented at home to find an efficient way of copying pages. He succeeded in 1938, and marketed his revolutionary device to about 20 companies before he could interest any. The Haloid Company (later called the Xerox Corporation) marketed it, and photocopying eventually became common and inexpensive.
Kenneth Carpenter (1949 - ) is a paleontologist who is director of the Prehistoric Museum in Price, Utah, USA. (Carpenter previously worked at the Denver Museum of Natural History in Denver, Colorado, USA.) Carpenter, Bryan Small, and Tim Seeber found the most complete Stegosaurus yet found on 1992 near Canon City, Colorado, USA. Carpenter named the dinosaurs Animantarx (Carpenter, Kirkland, Burge, and Bird, 1999), Cedarosaurus (Tidwell, Carpenter and Brooks, 1999), Gargoyleosaurus (Carpenter, Miles, and Cloward, 1998), Gojirasaurus (Carpenter, 1997), Maleevosaurus (Carpenter, 1992), Mymoorapelta (Kirkland and Carpenter, 1994), Niobrarasaurus (Carpenter, Dilkes, and Weishampel, 1995), Pectinodon (Carpenter, 1982). Carpenter has written many books on dinosaurs, including "Dinosaur Systematics," "Dinosaur Eggs and Babies," "The Dinosaurs of Marsh and Cope," and "The Morrison Formation - an Interdisciplinary Study."
Christopher Houston "Kit" Carson (Dec. 24, 1809 - May 23, 1868) was an American explorer, guide, fur trapper, Indian agent, rancher, and soldier, who traveled through the southwestern and western USA.
For more information on Kit Carson, click here.
Jacques Cartier (1491-1557) was a French explorer who led three expeditions to Canada, in 1534, 1535, and 1541. He was looking for a route to the Pacific through North America (a Northwest Passage) but did not find one. Cartier paved the way for French exploration of North America.
Cartier sailed inland, going 1,000 miles up the St. Lawrence River. He also tried to start a settlement in Quebec (in 1541), but it was abandoned after a terribly cold winter. Cartier named Canada; "Kanata" means village or settlement in the Huron-Iroquois language. Cartier was given directions by Huron-Iroquois Indians for the route to "kanata," a village near what is now Quebec, but Cartier later named the entire region Canada.
|Carver, George Washington
George Washington Carver (1865?-1943) was an American scientist, educator, humanitarian, and former slave. Carver developed hundreds of products from peanuts, sweet potatoes, pecans, and soybeans; his discoveries greatly improved the agricultural output and the health of Southern farmers. Before this, the only main crop in the South was cotton. The products that Carver invented included a rubber substitute, adhesives, foodstuffs, dyes, pigments, and many other products.
Sebastian Meléndez Rodríguez Cermenho (also written Cermenon) was a Spanish navigator and explorer (Cermenho was Portuguese by birth). Cermenho was directed by Cortés to explore the California coastline in 1595. With a crew of 70 men on the Manila (Philippines) Galleon San Agustin in the service of Spain, Cermenho sailed from the Philippines to California. After running aground near Point Reyes (north of San Francisco), Cermenon named the nearby bay San Francisco (it is now called Drakes Bay). They built a smaller boat from the wreckage and sailed to Acapulco, Mexico, charting the coastline all the while.
|Chamberlain, Thomas C.
Thomas Chrowder Chamberlain (Sept. 25, 1843 - Nov. 15, 1928) was an American geologist and teacher who proposed the planetesimal hypothesis of the formation of the Solar System. In this theory, a star is supposed to have passed near the Sun, pulling matter away from the Sun. Later, this matter is to have condensed into larger masses, forming the planets.
|Champlain, Samuel de
Samuel de Champlain (1567?-1635) was a French explorer and navigator who mapped much of northeastern North America and started a settlement in Quebec. Champlain also discovered the lake later named for him (1609) and was important in establishing and administering the French colonies in the New World.
Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (Born Lahore, India on Oct. 19, 1910 -Died Chicago, USA in 1995) was an Indian-American astrophysicist who studied stellar physics, evolution, and black holes. He realized that the fate of dying stars depended upon their mass, and above a certain point (1.4 times the mass of the Sun, now known as the "Chandrasekhar limit"), a star will undergo extreme collapse and not simply becomes a white dwarf. He won the Nobel prize in physics in 1983. The orbiting X-ray Observatory Chandra was named to honor S. Chandrasekhar.
|Charlevoix, Pierre François-Xavierde
Pierre François-Xavier de Charlevoix (Oct. 29, 1682 - Feb. 1, 1761) was a French Jesuit priest, explorer, and writer. His writings are some of the earliest written accounts of North America.
For more information on Charlevoix, click here.
Cesar Estrada Chavez (March 31, 1927 - April 23, 1993) was a Mexican-American labor leader who fought for the rights of migrant farm workers in the southwestern USA. Chavez founded the United Farm Workers and significantly improved the working conditions and wages of Mexican-American migrant farm workers.
Karen Chin is a paleontologist and ichnologist (studying trace fossils - coprolites in particular). In 1998, Dr. Chin studied the first fossilized T. rex dung (coprolites) that contained bits of Triceratops frill. She has also found traces of dung beetle tunnels in another dinosaur coprolite. Chin received her Masters Degree from Montana State University (working with Jack Horner), and her Ph.D. from University of California, Santa Barbara (in 1996).
Shirley Chisholm (Nov. 30, 1924 - Jan. 1, 2005) was the first African-American woman who served in the US Congress. Shirley Anita St. Hill was born in Brooklyn, New York. After being a teacher and serving as a New York state assemblywoman, Chisolm was elected as a Democrat to the House of Representatives. She served in Congress for seven terms, serving from January 3, 1969 until January 3, 1983. Chisholm tried to become the Democratic presidential nomination in 1972. During her long political career, she fought for the rights of women and minorities.
Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809) and William Clark (1770-1838) set out in May 1804 to explore and map the American West. President Thomas Jefferson commissioned the expedition to explore the newly-bought Louisiana Territory. Lewis and Clark were accompanied by a crew of men, and later, the Shoshone Indian guide and interpreter Sacagawea and her infant son. Lewis and Clark travelled by river and by land from St. Louis, Missouri, to the Oregon coast (Fort Clatsop), and back again. Their journey took 2 years, 4 months, and 10 days; they covered over 8,000 miles.
Activities: Print out this map, then draw Lewis and Clark's route and label the states they passed through.
The first dishwasher was patented in 1850 by Joel Houghton; his machine was a hand-turned wheel that splashed water on dishes - unfortunately, it wasn't very effective at washing dishes. The first working automatic dishwasher was invented by Mrs. Josephine Garis (W. A.) Cochran, of Shelbyville, Illinois, in 1889. Her dishwasher was a wooden tub with a wire basket in it - the dishes went in the basket, and rollers rotated the dishes. As a handle on the tub was turned, hot, soapy water was sprayed into the tub, cleaning the dishes. Cochran's machine was first shown at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, Illinois. At first, her machine was only bought by some restaurants and hotels. Cochran's small company was eventually associated with the KitchenAid company. The dishwasher didn't become widespread as a labor-saving machine until the 1960s.
Michael Collins (1930- ) is an American astronaut and US Air Force pilot. Collins piloted NASA's 3-day Gemini 10 Mission, which was launched on July 18, 1966; this mission successfully rendezvoused and docked with a separate Agena target vehicle, and Collins walked in space twice during this mission. Collins piloted the Command Module pilot of Apollo 11 (the mission that landed Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin Jr. on the moon, it flew from July 16-24, 1969); Collins circled the moon while Armstrong and Aldrin landed on the moon, and later rendezvoused with them.
Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) was an Italian explorer who sailed across the Atlantic Ocean in 1492, hoping to find a route to India (in order to trade for spices). He made a total of four trips to the Caribbean and South America during the years 1492-1504, sailing for King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella of Spain. On his first trip, Columbus led an expedition with three ships, the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria.
James Cook (October 27, 1728- February 14, 1779) was a British explorer and astronomer who went on many expeditions to the Pacific Ocean, Antarctic, Arctic, and around the world.
Cook's first journey was from 1768 to 1771, when he sailed to Tahiti in order to observe Venus as it passed between the Earth and the Sun (in order to try to determine the distance between the Earth and the Sun). During this expedition, he also mapped New Zealand and eastern Australia.
Cook's second expedition (1772-1775) took him to Antarctica and to Easter Island.
Cook's last expedition (1776-1779) was a search for a Northwest Passage across North America to Asia. Cook was killed by a mob on Feb. 14, 1779, on the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii). At the time, he was trying to take the local chief hostage to get the natives to return a sailboat they had stolen.
Cook was the first ship's captain to stop the disease scurvy (now known to be caused by a lack of vitamin C) among sailors by providing them with fresh fruits. Before this, scurvy had killed or incapacitated many sailors on long trips.
|Cope, Edward Drinker
Edward Drinker Cope (1840-1897) was a US paleontologist who named over one thousand species of fossil animals (some of these were duplicates), including Dimetrodon. He named the following dinosaurs: Agathaumas (1872), Amphicoelias (1877), Camarasaurus (1877), Coelophysis (1889), Cionodon (1874), Diclonius (1876), Dysganus (1876), Dystrophaeus (1877), Hypsibema (1869), Monoclonius (1876), Paronychodon (1876), Pteropelyx (1889), Tichosteus (1877), and others. He also named the dinosaur families: Camarasauridae (1877), Compsognathidae (1875), Hadrosauridae (1869), Iguanodontidae (1869), and Scelidosauridae (1869). The dinosaur Drinker was named by R. Bakker, P. Galton, Siegwarth & Filla in 1990 as a tribute to Cope.
|Coronado, Francisco Vasquez de
Francisco Vásquez de Coronado (1510-1554) was a Spanish ruler, explorer and conquistador. He was the first European to explore North America's Southwest.
David (Davy) Crockett (August 17, 1786 - March 6, 1836) was an American frontiersman, bear hunter, soldier, legislator, and folk hero. Crockett was born near Limestone, Tennessee and had little formal schooling. He joined the US army in 1813 and he served under Andrew Jackson, fighting the Creek Indians in the southeastern US. Colonel Crockett went on to serve in the Tennessee legislature from 1821-1822 and from in 1823-1824, and represented Tennessee in the U.S. Congress from 1827-1831 and from1833-1835. In 1834, Crockett wrote his autobiography, "A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett, of the State of Tennessee." After his political career ended in 1836, Crockett went to Texas, which had recently declared its inpendence from Mexico. Crockett and 139 others died on March 6, 1836, after defending the Alamo for 10 days against an army of Mexican soldiers.
The potato chip was invented in 1853 by George Crum. Crum was a Native American/African American chef at the Moon Lake Lodge resort in Saratoga Springs, New York, USA. French fries were popular at the restaurant and one day a diner complained that the fries were too thick. Although Crum made a thinner batch, the customer was still unsatisfied. Crum finally made fries that were too thin to eat with a fork, hoping to annoy the extremely fussy customer. The customer, surprisingly enough, was happy - and potato chips were invented!
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