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Catalog Data

Author:
Smith, George Otis 1871-1944  Search this
Subject:
Walcott, Charles D (Charles Doolittle) 1850-1927  Search this
Walcott, Mary Vaux 1860-1940  Search this
Walcott, Helena Breese Stevens  Search this
Roosevelt, Theodore 1858-1919  Search this
Agassiz, Louis 1807-1873  Search this
Walcott, B. Stuart  Search this
Walcott, Sidney Stevens  Search this
United States Geological Survey (USGS)  Search this
United States National Museum  Search this
National Academy of Sciences (U.S.)  Search this
American Association for the Advancement of Science  Search this
American Philosophical Society  Search this
United States National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics  Search this
United States Bureau of Mines  Search this
Geological Society of America  Search this
Washington Academy of Sciences  Search this
National Collection of Fine Arts  Search this
National Gallery of Art of the Smithsonian  Search this
United States Dept. of Agriculture Forest Service  Search this
National Research Council  Search this
Carnegie Institution of Washington  Search this
Smithsonian American Art Museum  Search this
Geological Society of London  Search this
Geological Society of Washington  Search this
Smithsonian African Expedition (1909-1910)  Search this
International Geological Congress  Search this
Physical description:
pp. 555-561
Place:
British Columbia
Date:
1928
Category:
Smithsonian Institution History Bibliography
Notes:
Footnote on Page 555 states: "Reprinted by permission, with different illustrations and some additions, from the American Journal of Science, fifth series, Vol. XIV, No. 79, July 1927." Two photographs are included.
"Burgess Shale (B.C.)" is included on the Subject list even though it is not specifically cited by the author.
Summary:
This eulogy of Charles D. Walcott, fourth Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, praises Walcott as a leader in American science. He is described as a self-determined individual with an engaging personality, and as a talented scientist who directed his exceptional business acumen toward the public good.
The author notes Walcott's birth in Oneida County, New York, on March 31, 1850, and comments on his attraction to science and fossil collecting at an early age. Although family circumstances did not allow him to pursue a college degree after high school, Walcott enhanced his formal education with additional self-directed study and reading. In 1873, he planned to study at Harvard under Louis Agassiz, but that intention ended with the death of Agassiz later that year. However, Walcott persevered and in 1876 secured his first professional appointment, as an assistant to the state geologist of New York.
Walcott began work at the United States Geological Survey in 1879, conducting studies on fossil identification in the American West and Appalachian areas, from Alabama to Eastern Canada. He traveled to Wales in 1888 to study the Cambrian system, and presented his research before the International Geological Congress in London.
Walcott's talents for handling research and administrative duties simultaneously were demonstrated during his service as director of the United States Geological Survey from 1894 through 1907. His work and leadership there led to the establishment of the Forest Service and the Bureau of Mines.
In 1907, Walcott was selected as Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. He had served earlier as Acting Assistant Secretary in charge of the National Museum, developing its paleontology collections and devising new methods of mounting specimens. Walcott's wide-ranging abilities were fully utilized during his 20-year tenure as Secretary. He inaugurated the National Gallery of Art [now the Smithsonian American Art Museum] as a separate branch of the Smithsonian Institution in 1920, and directed research investigations in various parts of the world, including the African expedition of Theodore Roosevelt in 1909-1910.
Walcott's research in Cambrian geology and paleontology continued throughout his lifetime, but was largely concentrated in British Columbia after he became secretary. He was awarded five medals for his research over the years, including the Wollaston medal from the Geological Society of London; he was also the recipient of many academic honors.
Walcott held offices in a number of professional associations and societies during various periods of time. He was president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, first president of the Geological Society of Washington, president of the Geological Society of America, the Washington Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the National Academy of Sciences. Walcott was also secretary and administrative officer of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, served as vice chairman of the National Research Council, chairman of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, and chairman of the Military Committee.
The author lauds Walcott as "not only a scientist among scientists, but as a man among men." Few mentions are made of Walcott's private life, but the author notes the losses of a son in action in World War I, his wife, Helena Stevens Walcott, and a second son. However, he also remarks on the pleasure and fulfillment both Walcott and wife Mary Vaux Walcott experienced during their stays in the mountains of British Columbia and Alberta.
Contained within:
Smithsonian Institution Annual Report for 1927 (Book)
Contact information:
Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520, SIHistory@si.edu
Topic:
Biography  Search this
Secretaries  Search this
Geology  Search this
Awards  Search this
Invertebrates, Fossil  Search this
Professional associations  Search this
Burgess Shale (B.C.)  Search this
Awards and Honors  Search this
Geologists  Search this
Societies  Search this
Learned institutions and societies  Search this
Paleontology  Search this
Medals  Search this
Publisher:
Washington, D.C. Government Printing Office
Data Source:
Smithsonian Archives - History Div
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sic_3520