Department of Geology records, 1920-1986

Emory University

Emory University Archives

Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

Atlanta, GA 30322



Permanent link: http://pid.emory.edu/ark:/25593/bmkcv

Collection Stored Off-Site

All or portions of this collection are housed off-site. Materials can still be requested but researchers should expect a delay of up to two business days for retrieval.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Emory University. Dept. of Geology.
Title: Department of Geology records, 1920-1986
Call Number:Series No. 152
Extent: 11.25 linear ft. (23 boxes) and 2 bound volumes (BV)
Abstract:The Department of Geology was officially established at Emory University in 1938, chaired by James George Lester. Lester helped established undergraduate and graduate programs in geology as well as a geology field camp for faculty and students in northern Georgia. The Department was closed in 1986 and was absorbed into the Department of Environmental Studies. The Department of Geology records include administrative materials, grant proposals, correspondence, teaching materials, and field books from the department's geology camp. The earliest materials, 1920-1938, are those of department founder James George Lester.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

Special restrictions apply: Selected materials are closed to research until 2033 in accordance with Emory University Archives access policy for Student Educational Records.

Researchers must contact MARBL in advance to access audiovisual materials in this collection.

Collection stored off-site. Researchers must contact MARBL in advance to access this collection.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.




[after identification of item(s)], Department of Geology records, Emory University Archives, Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.


Processed by Lisa Chinn, December 2010.

Collection Description

Administrative History

Instruction in geology was part of the Emory curriculum from the College's earliest days. Classes were originally conducted in the school's dormitories, as were its other classes, but were relocated to "Old Main" upon that building's completion in 1852. The school's 1839 catalog noted that study in the sciences included a course in geology, typically taken during a student's junior year; however by 1848 geology had shifted to a senior level course. Alexander Means, Emory College's fourth president, held the chair in the science and was the first instructor in the sciences, teaching classes in geology, as well as physiology, natural philosophy, and chemistry.

The course catalogs from the antebellum period suggest that geology and the other sciences were highly regarded at the College and engaged students in scientific demonstrations. At the same time, however, Means inflected his science courses commonly held mid-nineteenth century ideas about the relationship between science and religion as the 1853 course catalog description of geology instruction indicates, "These Lectures [on geology], aided by numerous Diagrams and experiments in Dynamics, are intended to illustrate the kindred origin and relationship of our planet with others of the solar train, and to establish the harmony of geological and astronomical disclosures with the Mosaic Cosmogony, and the announcements of Revelation."

Geology continued as an important part of the science curriculum at Emory College in the period after the Civil War, with laboratory work becoming an essential component of science courses during the Reconstruction era. Geology instruction continued at Emory when the University opened in 1915 and the mineral cabinet first used in teaching geology at Oxford was transferred to the Atlanta campus. Despite a long history of teaching geology at Emory, it was not until 1938 that geology became its own department. James G. Lester joined in Emory faculty in 1919, serving for years as a professor in the Department of Engineering, before founding and chairing the new Department of Geology. Serving at the helm of the Geology Department for over twenty five year, Lester oversaw the fundraising and construction of a new building for the department in 1949, the creation of a bachelor's and master's of science in geology, and the establishment of a geology field camp for faculty and students in the north Georgia mountains.

In 1986, Emory University closed the Department of Geology, which at the time had five tenure track positions, a graduate, and undergraduate program. Although it eliminated the geology department, Emory continued its 150 year tradition of instruction in geology by incorporating in geology into the geosciences program which along with the program in human and natural ecology formed the new Department of Environmental Studies. James G. Lester's contributions to the sciences at Emory endure as well and he is memorialized by the James G. Lester Scholarship in Environmental Studies.

Scope and Content Note

The Department of Geology records, 1920-1980 (10 linear feet), document the department's administrative functions and teaching activities and include materials related to departmental founder Professor James George Lester. The collection is organized into seven series: Administrative materials, Grant proposals, Correspondence, Teaching, Field guidebooks, College of Arts and Sciences materials, and Graduate School materials.

The first series, Administrative Materials, documents the day-to-day functions of the Department of Geology and includes meeting notes and minutes, committee reports, and financial records.

The Grant proposals series documents the department's efforts to cultivate funding for fellowships, professorships, and secondary school programs and includes National Science Foundation grant materials, primarily correspondence related to grants.

Materials in the Correspondence series relate primarily to professor and department chair James G. Lester. The series is divided into three subseries: institutional correspondence, which contains letters to and from geological societies; alphabetical correspondence, which includes letters written in Lester's capacity as departmental chair; and individual correspondence, which contains personal correspondence.

The Teaching series includes records documenting summer school and field camp activities, publications, thesis committees, and lecture materials.

The Field guidebooks series includes guidebooks from the 1960s used in the Department of Geology's field camp program.

Materials in the College of Arts and Sciences series include correspondence between the College and the Department, administrative policies, and student policies and procedures.

The Graduate School series includes correspondence between the dean of the Graduate School and the Department of Geology, student policies, faculty committee minutes and reports.

Arrangement Note

Organized into eight series: (1) Administrative material, (2) Grant proposals, (3) Correspondence, (4) Teaching, (5) Field guidebooks, (6) College of Arts and Sciences, (7) Graduate School, and (8) Printed material.

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