SIA RU105101, Cushman, Joseph A (Joseph Augustine) 1881-1949, Joseph A. Cushman Papers, circa 1862-1977 and undated

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  • These papers provide comprehensive documentation of Cushman's scientific career from around 1910 to 1949, with some records continued by his assistant, Ruth Todd, following his death. Included is correspondence with American and foreign scientists and students concerning the identification and exchange of specimens; use of the Cushman Laboratory for Research; his studies of European museum foraminiferal collections; his consulting work with the Marland Oil Company; his participation in professional societies, state geological surveys, international geological congresses, and geological expeditions; and the publishing of scientific journals. Also included are photographs of the Laboratory and prominent paleontologists; notebooks; scrapbooks of clippings, plates, notes, and tracings from published sources; and family correspondence, genealogies, reminiscences, paintings and sketches, photographs, and memorabilia.
  • There is no apparent logical arrangement to the papers, but there are several alphabetic correspondence series with similar subject matter and dates. It is unknown whether this is the order maintained by Cushman or whether the present order was established when the collection arrived at the United States National Museum. In some cases, folders are not identified so folder headings were added and enclosed in brackets. NOTE: These papers are located in the National Museum of Natural History, Division of Invertebrate Paleontology.


  • Cushman, Joseph A (Joseph Augustine) 1881-1949
  • Todd, Ruth 1913-
  • Cushman Laboratory for Foraminiferal Research
  • Marland Oil Company


  • Joseph A. Cushman (1881-1949) received his undergraduate education from Bridgewater (Mass.) Normal School, 1897-1901, and Harvard's Lawrence Scientific School, 1901-1903. He also received his Ph.D. degree, 1909, and an honorary Doctor of Science degree, 1937, from Harvard.
  • From 1903 to 1923 Cushman was employed at the Boston Society of Natural History where he studied recent foraminifera collected by the United States Fish Commission Steamer Albatross. In 1912, he joined the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to study the coastal plain foraminifera with T. Wayland Vaughan of the USGS. In 1921, on leave from the USGS, Cushman was appointed consulting geologist for the Marland Oil Company, for which he spent several months in Mexico in field work. When he returned to his home in Sharon, Massachusetts, he built a laboratory which he called the Cushman Laboratory for Foraminiferal Research to continue his study of economic micropaleontology for Marland. In 1925 he severed his relationship with Marland and rejoined the USGS. In the meantime, his laboratory was opened to Boston area college students and to United States and foreign scientists for research on his foraminiferal collection. In 1926 a quarterly publication, Contributions from the Cushman Laboratory for Foraminiferal Research was begun, and in 1928 he began publishing Special Publications of the Cushman Laboratory for Foraminiferal Research. In 1927 and 1932, Cushman traveled to Europe as a representative of the Smithsonian Institution to study foraminifera in European museums. His close association with the Smithsonian and the USGS resulted in the bequest of his specimens, card catalog and library, and slide catalog to the United States National Museum.
  • Description in control file.


(1) Private letter files, 1893, 1904-1977; (2) early files, 1875, 1889, 1904-1950; (3) correspondence file, A-Z, 1887, 1904-1950 and undated; (4) Marland Oil Company, 1921-1926 and undated; (5) photographs, notebooks, and memorabilia, circa 1862-1977 and undated

Repository Loc.

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Capital Gallery, Suite 3000, MRC 507; 600 Maryland Avenue, SW; Washington, DC 20024-2520


  • 1862
  • 1862-1977
  • circa 1862-1977 and undated

Restrictions & Rights

Use of this record unit requires prior arrangement with the Archives staff


  • Geology
  • Portraits
  • Paleontology


  • Scientific illustrations
  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks
  • Art objects

Local number

SIA RU105101

Physical description

8 linear meters

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