William F. Foshag Dressed in Field Clothes

ID: SIA2009-1508


Form/Genre: Photographic print

Date: c. 1943

Citation: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7281, Box 11, Folder: Parícutin Misc

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William F. Foshag, dressed in field clothes, is on an expedition to study the Parícutin volcano. Foshag first visited the Parícutin volcano in March 1943, about one month after the start of the eruption.


  • Foshag, William F
  • United States National Museum
  • National Museum of Natural History (U.S.)


Historic Images of the Smithsonian


  • Foshag was an assistant curator of the Department of Mineralogy. He was curator of the Division of Physical and Chemical Geology from 1929-1941 and from 1929-1948 he was a Curator in the Division of Mineralogy and Petrology. He became Head Curator of the Department of Geology and acting Curator of the Mineralogy and Petrology division from 1948-1956. His research was primarily focused on his studies of the mineralogy and geology of Mexico. He took part in many geological surveys, and documented the birth and life of the Parícutin volcano in Mexico, which was active between 1943 and 1952.
  • The Paricutin volcano erupted from 1943 to 1952 with several eruptive phases. In early 1943, residents near Paricutin, Mexico, about 200 miles west of Mexico City, experienced hundreds of earthquakes. On February 20, 1943, a large fissure opened in the cornfield of Dionisio and Paula Pulido, Tarascan Indians. A crater soon formed, and over the next ten years, hundreds of scientists from around the world witnessed the birth and growth of a volcano. Foshag, from the Smithsonian's Natural History Museum, and Dr. Jenaro Gonzalez Reyna from the Mexican government, spent several years at the site, observing and documenting it through field notebooks, photographs and films. This was the first time that volcanologists were able to fully document the entire life cycle of a volcano, and the numerous studies published increased understanding of volcanism in general and especially scoria cone formation.

Contained within

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7281, Box 11, Folder: Parícutin Misc

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024-2520, SIHistory@si.edu


c. 1943

Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions


  • Scientific expeditions
  • Geology
  • Physical geology
  • Mineralogy
  • Employees
  • Museums
  • Parícutin Volcano
  • Petrology
  • Geologists
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • Personnel management
  • Explorations and Expeditions
  • Volcanoes
  • Scientists
  • Mineralogists
  • Museum curators
  • Smithsonian Institution--Employees
  • Volcanoes--Mexico




  • Photographic print
  • Person, candid

ID Number


Physical description

Number of Images: 1; Color: Black and white; Size: 2.5w x 3.5h; Type of Image: Person, candid; Medium: Photographic print

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