Geology and Mineralogy

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  • The work is comprised of a breakdown of the Department of Geology, auspiciously scripted to insure that the contributions of that department did not go unrecognized. The chapter is divided into four sections, with a detailed explanation of each. The first, publications, is subdivided to mention the most important holdings of the department. Each of these subdivisions (miscellaneous papers, papers related to the USNM collections and SI-related expostions, reports of the particular branches of science) is explained in detail, including brief abstracts of several papers. The scholars mentioned here include G.P. Merrill, Edward Hitchcock, Col. Charles Whittlesey, James Smithson and Charles D. Walcott. The second section, explorations, is comprised of a list of some SI- related explorations, as well as some historical background of the study of geology in the U.S.
  • There is special mention of the Colorado River Exploration (J.W. Powell, 1869-72), although other trips are also given note, including the Pacific Railroad Surveys and the Mexican Boundary Survey. The third section, on the National Museum, is devoted to praise of the Museum's exhibit and research collection of geological specimens and literature. Particular emphasis is placed on the collection of dyanical geology. It also congratulates the USNM for distributing minerals and rocks and other specimens to smaller museums and area schools. The last section, lectures, recounts over a dozen scholarly lectures given at the SI from 1849 until the fire of 1865 destroyed the lecture room. This list includes presentations by scholars such as Louis Agassiz and Joseph LeConte.


  • Agassiz, Louis 1807-1873
  • Powell, John Wesley 1834-1902
  • Walcott, Charles D (Charles Doolittle) 1850-1927
  • LeConte, Joseph
  • Merrill, George P (George Perkins) 1854-1929
  • Hitchcock, Edward
  • Whittlesey, Charles
  • Smithson, James 1765-1829
  • Smithsonian Institution Building (Washington, D.C.)
  • United States and Mexican Boundary Survey
  • Colorado River Survey
  • Pacific Railroad Surveys


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography


Rice was professor of Geology at Wesleyan University at the time of the article.

Contained within

The Smithsonian Institution, 1846-1896, The History of its First Half Century (Book)

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,




  • Scientific expeditions
  • Lectures and lecturing
  • Mineralogy
  • SI, Early History
  • United States National Museum

Physical description

pp. 631-646

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