Andrew Carnegie and Charles Doolittle Walcott: The Origin and Early Years of the Carnegie Institution of Washington

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  • In this article concerning events leading to the 1902 founding and early history of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, the author utilizes extensive exchanges of correspondence among a number of the principals involved to document Charles Doolittle Walcott, fourth Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution from 1907 until 1927, as a central force in the CIW's establishment and its early years. In 1901, Andrew Carnegie retired from the steel industry and became a full-time philanthropist. Some close to Carnegie wanted to see him fund a university, but he chose to donate $10 million towards a scientific research institution instead.
  • Carnegie needed someone to act as Secretary of his Institution and guide it through its first years; Walcott had established a reputation for uncommon energy and organizational ability as Director of the U. S. Geological Survey while simultaneously serving other scientific organizations in various capacities. Carnegie met with Walcott in December 1901 and asked Walcott to also take on an active role in his new Institution. Walcott agreed to this additional responsibility, and began a relationship with Carnegie which saw him play a central role in the Carnegie Institution that lasted for many years, as Walcott served on the Institution's Executive Committee until 1922.


  • Carnegie, Andrew 1835-1919
  • Walcott, Charles D (Charles Doolittle) 1850-1927
  • Carnegie Institution of Washington


Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography


Note date error in left column, midway down Page 18: December 1902 date of the Walcott-Carnegie meeting should be December 1901.

Contained within

History of Geophysics Vol. 5 (Journal)

Contact information

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




  • Secretaries
  • Learned institutions and societies
  • Carnegie family

Physical description

pgs. 1-19

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