Charles Doolittle Walcott, Paleontologist

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Kent State University Press, 1998 - Biography & Autobiography - 510 pages

Charles Doolittle Walcott (1850-1927) is one of the most important and highly respected figures in the history of geology. This in-depth biography documents his career and life from birth to retirement from the U.S. Geological Survey in 1907, when he became Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.

With very little formal education (he did not complete high school), Walcott became special assistant to James Hall, State Paleontologist of New York, and made a fundamental contribution to the study of trilobites by describing their limbs. He joined the new U.S. Geological Survey in 1879 and rose through the ranks to become its director in 1894, a position he held for 13 years. Walcott is known best for having documented in detail the "Cambrian," the oldest richly fossiliferous rocks in the world. His primary efforts for the U.S. Geological Survey were in keying fossils to the sequence of rocks, and he brought new precision to the biostratigraphy of the older rocks of North America.

A talented and productive scientist, he also applied his talents to administration and made the USGS the most successful scientific organization in the world. At one time he was Director of the USGS, Chief of the Reclamation Service (effectively in charge of national forests), Secretary of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, and chairman of two committees appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt. The publication of his biography will serve to illuminate the life of an important but little-known American scientist.

 

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The story of CD Walcott is inspiring and offers insight into a changing United States, its lands and government, and the birth of modern geology.

Contents

I
xvii
II
16
III
48
IV
85
VI
118
VII
157
VIII
194
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229
XII
304
XIV
344
XVI
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XVII
427
XIX
467
XX
479
XXI
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Copyright

XI
270

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Page 486 - Report upon the Condition and Progress of the US National Museum during the year ending June 30, 1896.
Page 49 - On this estate Hall had built a red brick retreat in which he assembled all the personnel and paraphernalia of his work. It was a spreading one story structure with one large room and galleries for his collections assembled in some thousands of drawers, with a study framed in books. Not long after, he removed his family to a dwelling on the place and some twenty-five years later built another more elaborate house nearer to his brick " office," but during many years this red office was his real home.

About the author (1998)

Ellis Yochelson is past-president of the Paleontological Society and cofounder and past-president of the History of Earth Sciences Society. He is the author of The National Museum of Natural History: Seventy-Five Years in the Natural History Building and editor of the two-volume Proceedings of the North American Paleontological Convention.

"Ellis Yochelson leads us to a new, much deeper understanding of Charles D. Walcott and the institutions with which he was associated. He captures an era of geology that is gone, and in so doing may help educate modern readers about the goals and rigors of geoscience in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries."--Kennard Bork, past editor of History of Earth Science

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