Agency history, 1897-1963

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  • Bassler, Ray S (Ray Smith) 1878-1961
  • Cooper, G. Arthur (Gustav Arthur) 1902-2000
  • Foshag, William F (William Frederick) 1894-1956
  • Merrill, George P (George Perkins) 1854-1929
  • Museum of Natural History (U.S.) Department of Mineral Sciences
  • Museum of Natural History (U.S.) Department of Paleobiology


Agency History


  • This is an agency history. It does not describe actual records. The Smithsonian Institution Archives uses these histories as brief accounts of the origin, development, and functions of an office or administrative unit to set that unit in its historical context. To find information on record holdings, please double-click the highlighted field "Creator/Author", which will open on a brief view of relevant records.
  • Guide to the Smithsonian Archives
  • Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution
  • The Department of Geology was formed during the reorganization of the United States National Museum (USNM) in 1897. At that time, the various departments in the geological and paleontological sciences became divisions and the Departmentof Geology was set up as the organizational unit controlling those divisions. The Department remained an administrative entity of the USNM until 1963 when it divided into the Departments of Mineral Sciences and Paleobiology.
  • Head Curators of the Department of Geology included George P. Merrill, 1897-1929; Ray S. Bassler, 1929-1948; William F. Foshag, 1948-1956; and G. Arthur Cooper, 1956-1963.
  • For a history of the larger creating unit, refer to "Forms part of" above.

Repository Loc.

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


  • 1897
  • 1897-1963


  • Geology
  • Paleontology


Mixed archival materials

Local number

SIA AH00045

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