Joseph Nicollet (Explorer) – Bio, Birthday, Family, Age & Born
Joseph Nicollet

Joseph Nicolas Nicollet, also known as Jean-Nicolas Nicollet, was a French geographer, astronomer, and mathematician known for mapping the Upper Mississippi River basin during the 1830s. Nicollet led three expeditions in the region between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, primarily in Minnesota, South Dakota, and North Dakota. Before emigrating to the United States, Nicollet was a professor of mathematics at Collège Louis-le-Grand, and a professor and astronomer at the Paris Observatory with Pierre-Simon Laplace. Political and academic changes in France led Nicollet to travel to the United States to do work that would bolster his reputation among academics in Europe. Nicollet’s maps were among the most accurate of the time, correcting errors made by Zebulon Pike, and they provided the basis for all subsequent maps of the American interior. They were also among the first to depict elevation by hachuring and the only maps to use regional Native American placenames.

Born: July 24, 1786, Cluses, Savoy, France
Died: September 11, 1843, Washington D.C, United States
Nationality: French
Occupation: Explorer, mathematician
Known for: Cartography of the Mississippi River

About Joseph Nicollet

French explorer of the upper Mississippi who recorded its landscape and native cultures.

Before Fame

Showing an early aptitude for mathematics, he began teaching at age 19.


His collection of maps from his three expeditions used native names for regions and landmarks.

Family Life

He grew up around Cluses in Savoy, France.


He was guided by Zebulon Pike ‘s maps in his explorations while making many corrections to them.

Information related to Joseph Nicollet

  • French explorers of North America
  • Pre-statehood history of Minnesota
  • French geographers
  • Explorers of the United States
  • Burials at the Congressional Cemetery
  • History of United States expansionism
  • French explorers
  • American explorers
  • French emigrants to the United States

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