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Tuesday, 29 June 2004

Too Many Fathers Spoil A Corpus
CREDIT: © U.S. Geological Survey/USGS Museum Property
WHERE: New Harmony, Indiana, USA. WHAT: first geological map of America.
Thumbnail click pops-up source web page.

William Maclure © USGSWilliam Maclure (1763-1840), sometimes called the 'Father of American Geology', is overshadowed by William [1][2] Smith (1769-1839), sometimes called the 'Father of British Geology'. Maclure published his geological map of America in 1809, yet Smith's 1815 geological map of Britain receives more acclaim.

We will examine this superficially unfair circumstance tomorrow, but meanwhile we accord Maclure the same representation we gave Smith, a link to a 1920s portrait by Abner Lowe, from the U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey web site.

Lowe painted retrospective portraits of eight other famous geologists: [1] Grove Carl Gilbert (1843-1918); [2] Abraham Gottob Werner (1750-1817); [3] J. Louis Agassiz (1807-1873); [4] James Hall (1811-1898); [5] James Hutton (1726-1797); [6] Amos Eaton (1776-1842); [7] Leopold von Buch (1774-1853); and [8] James Dwight Dana (1813-1895). Among these Hutton and Werner are sometimes referred to as 'Founder of Geology', and Eaton as another 'Father of American Geology' candidate.

It seems to us that these epithetical accolades are somewhat overworked, because understanding the development of a body of knowledge is more important to serious study than the star status of individual contributors.

  
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Jules Laforgue (1860-1887)
"Ah! que la vie est quotidienne."
Oh, what a day-to-day business life is.
'Complainte sur certains ennuis' (1885)