Biography and History

Established in 1904 as the Department of Geology, the Department of Geological and Geophysical Sciences (now known as the Department of Geosciences) has grown to become the center for the study of Earth, atmospheric, oceanographic, and environmental sciences at Princeton. Geoscientific studies at Princeton University date from 1854, when Arnold Guyot was appointed Professor of Geography and Physical Geology. Guyot was the sole instructor in geological sciences for 19 years and he was primarily responsible for the creation of the Geological Museum (located first in Nassau Hall and later in Guyot Hall), which grew from the fossils and geological specimens he collected for instructional purposes. Even in its early years, the department was a leader in geological and paleontological fieldwork. In 1877, three of Guyot's students - William Berryman Scott, Henry F. Osborn and Francis Speer - participated in Princeton's first field expedition to Colorado and Wyoming in order to collect vertebrate fossils. It was the first in a series of expeditions to the American west made by Princeton students and faculty, eight of which Scott himself led between 1882-1893. Scott was awarded the Blair Professorship of Geology and Paleontology in 1884 and was the department chair from 1904-1930.

Five years aftern its founding, the Department of Geology moved into its home in Guyot Hall in 1909, a facility that also housed the department's growing Geological (or Natural History) Museum. Guyot Hall was designed by members of the department and funded by the mother of Cleveland H. Dodge (1879) who was a University trustee. In 1926, Richard M. Field initiated Princeton's Summer School of Geology and Natural Resources, a still-extant annual field course designed to teach students in techniques of geological and geophysical research. Under the tenure of chairman Harry H. Hess (1950-1966) the Department of Geology expanded its course offerings to touch on many subjects under the umbrella of geological science and acquired its present form. In 1968 the name was changed to the Department of Geological and Geophysical Sciences to reflect the new curriculum, a name that was later condensed in 1996 resulting in the current name of the Department of Geosciences.

The American Institute of Geonomy and Natural Resources, Inc. was established in 1952 by Richard M. Field, Arthur Murphy, Fanny Field and others to gather and disseminate scientific information and to conduct research "in respect of the art of living," as stated their By-Laws. The organization was led by two Princeton faculty members, Richard Field, and W. Taylor Thom, Jr. before it was disbanded in 1969. Documentation in the files indicates that the Department was designated as the repository for the records.

Source: From the finding aid for AC139

  • Department of Geological and Geophysical Sciences Records. 1880-1994 (inclusive).

    Call Number: AC139

    Established in 1904 as the Department of Geology, the Department of Geological and Geophysical Sciences (now known as the Department of Geosciences) has grown become the center for the study of Earth, atmospheric, oceanographic, and environmental sciences at Princeton. The records document the department from its 19th century origins to the recent past with departmental files, faculty files, faculty meeting minutes and visual materials.

  • Department of Geological and Geophysical Sciences Records. 1880-1994 (inclusive).

    Call Number: AC139

    Established in 1904 as the Department of Geology, the Department of Geological and Geophysical Sciences (now known as the Department of Geosciences) has grown become the center for the study of Earth, atmospheric, oceanographic, and environmental sciences at Princeton. The records document the department from its 19th century origins to the recent past with departmental files, faculty files, faculty meeting minutes and visual materials.

  • Arnold Guyot Collection. 1829-1928 (inclusive).

    Call Number: C1095

    Consists of selected correspondence, documents, and related material by and about Arnold Guyot, the Swiss-born American geologist, geographer, and educator whose extensive meteorological observations led to the founding of the U.S. Weather Bureau.