Geological Society of America Election of 1921: A Reprise

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  • Article concerns the politics involved in the 1921 election of Yale University's Charles Schuchert as president of the Geological Society of America. A campaign to prevent his election was mounted in Washington, principally by society members from the U. S. Geological Survey, and was led by E. O. Ulrich, a USGS paleontologist. Ulrich and Schuchert had been boyhood friends; Schuchert had helped Ulrich get his USGS position, overcoming Smithsonian Secretary Charles D. Walcott's opposition to Ulrich's hiring because of a quarrelsome reputation and general disagreement with other paleontologists. Ulrich spear headed the anti-Schuchert effort, which included other paleontologists who worked in the U. S. National Museum, where the USGS also had offices.
  • Schuchert reasoned that the opposition to his candidacy stemmed from professional jealousy, as he had disputed some scientific conclusions of the opposition regarding the Mesozoic-Cenozoic boundary by classifying the Lance and Fort Union Formations into the Mesozoic Era. The authors agree and believe that Ulrich turned against Schuchert because he refused to adopt Ulrich's new Paleozoic Systems, and they view the politics of the 1921 GSA presidential election as an unfortunate blot on the society's history caused by petty jealousy and personal spite.


  • Walcott, Charles D (Charles Doolittle) 1850-1927
  • Ulrich, Edward Oscar
  • Schuchert, Charles 1858-1942
  • Geological Society of America
  • United States National Museum
  • United States Geological Survey (USGS)


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography


"Notes" at the conclusion of the article includes unpublished items from the Charles Schuchert Papers in Yale University's Manuscripts and Archives.

Contained within

Earth Sciences History Vol. 17, No. 1 (Journal)

Contact information

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




  • Professional associations
  • Politics and culture
  • Geology
  • Secretaries
  • History, organization, etc
  • Societies
  • Societies--History, organization, etc

Physical description

pgs. 27-31

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