The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.
The Department of Geology from 1906 to 1940

During the second semester of 1905-6 Professor Russell died, and in the late summer William Herbert Hobbs (Worcester Polytechnic Institute '83, D.Eng. ibid. '29, Ph.D. Johns Hopkins '88, LL.D. Michigan '39) was appointed Professor of Geology and Director of the Geological Laboratory in the University. With his appointment there began a very notable expansion of the work in geology. When he entered upon his office the department occupied two rooms in the attic of the old Museum Building (now the Romance Language Building) with an exhibition room and a share, with other Page  587departments, in the lecture room on the first floor of the building. During the year Irving Day Scott (A.B. Oberlin '00, Pd.B. Albany State Normal '01, Ph.D. Michigan '12), who was then pursuing his work in the department and was afterward advanced through the several grades to become Professor of Physiographical Geology in 1930, was appointed as an assistant. At the Regents' meeting of September, 1907, Ermine Cowles Case (Kansas '93, Ph.D. Chicago '96) was appointed Assistant Professor of Historical Geology and Paleontology, and in succeeding years instructors were added to the department to teach other branches of the science.

In the year 1905-6, 131 students had been enrolled in the department. When Professor Hobbs retired, in 1933-34, there were ten members of the instructional staff, including two professors, three associate professors, four assistant professors, and one instructor, with a number of assistants, and the enrollment of students in the department was 1,035, of which number seventeen were in the Graduate School. The department had taken over ample quarters for its work in 1915 in the new Natural Science Building.

In 1907 Irving D. Scott was appointed Instructor in Geology. He developed courses in physiography, including Meteorology. He also conducted large freshman classes in introductory geology and in 1935 took charge of the work in physical geology.

Rolland Craten Allen (Wisconsin '05, A.M. ibid. '08) was appointed Instructor in Geology to develop the work in economic geology in 1908, and this work he carried on for a year and then became state geologist of Michigan, but he continued to give lectures on certain special phases of economic geology until 1913.

To find room for the expanding department within the antiquated Museum Building the geological collections upon the first floor were crowded closer together, and a part of the space was converted into a laboratory for the students. Small offices were also found for some of the staff in this room.

In 1908 Frank Leverett (Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts '85, Sc.D. hon. Michigan '30), distinguished glacial geologist and long a member of the United States Geological Survey, was appointed to the staff as Lecturer in Glacial Geology, and in that capacity he conducted lectures and took charge of excursions until 1928, when he retired from the department.

Up to the year 1906, or during the first sixty-seven years of the history of the Department of Geology at the University, the instruction in geology was carried on either entirely by one professor, other departments sometimes utilizing a part of his time, or, for brief intervals (1871-73 and 1879-91), by two men of whom one gave full time to it and the other only part time. During Professor Russell's incumbency, which terminated with his death in 1906, he labored without assistance.

In the study of geology at the University of Michigan there is imposed a certain heavy handicap in the fact that all save the latest of geological formations are buried deep under glacial deposits. The rocks of the earth constitute a large part of the equipment of any geological laboratory, and to find them exposed one must go far from the University. Even some of the simplest of geological processes are illustrated in the vicinity only by abnormal examples. This handicap has been met in part for the elementary courses by extended excursions and by newly devised laboratory apparatus. For the advanced students the handicap is particularly serious, for they must undertake their individual Page  588studies of geological problems by time-consuming and extended journeys to somewhat remote areas.

The instructional work within the growing department was organized upon a plan to meet the needs of different classes of students. There were, first, general introductory courses which constituted a part of the liberal education, for the freshmen and for upperclassmen, the latter course conducted by the head of the department and required for certain groups of engineering students and for all forestry students. There were courses for teachers of earth science in secondary schools. To meet the needs of students who were planning to take up economic geology, an intensive undergraduate course was provided with curriculums arranged at some sacrifice of cultural courses, but with concentration on special lines of economic geology, particularly oil geology and geology of the metals and nonmetals. Graduates in these curriculums were given a special certificate in geology and have been very successful in obtaining positions, particularly in the large field of oil geology. Built upon the introductory courses of the department were the advanced courses for the training of professional geologists in the several fields of structural, dynamical, glacial, and economic geology and paleontology.

After the resignation of R. C. Allen in 1909, Charles Wilford Cook ('04, Ph.D. '13), who had been acting as an assistant in the Department of Mineralogy, was appointed to carry on the work in economic geology. He advanced to the rank of professor in 1925 and was especially successful in training men within his field, as clearly shown by the positions they have occupied. His lamented death occurred in 1933.

In 1919 George Marion Ehlers ('13, Ph.D. '30) joined the staff as Instructor and gave especial aid in the assembling and care of the geological collections, as well as in developing courses of instruction in invertebrate paleontology. His advancement to his present rank, the associate professorship, came in 1934.

Up to the year 1912 the subject of geography had not been taught in the University. However, as the need for such work became increasingly apparent, Carl Ortwin Sauer (Central Wesleyan '08, Ph.D. Chicago '15) was appointed to the staff of the Department of Geology in 1916. The name of the department was at the same time changed to the Department of Geology and Geography. Having been promoted in 1918 and again in 1920, Sauer was appointed to a full professorship of geography in 1922. Kenneth Charles McMurry (Wisconsin '15, Ph.D. Chicago '21) was added to the staff as Instructor in Geography in 1920 and was made Assistant Professor in 1921. In 1923 Preston Everett James (Harvard '20, Ph.D. Clark '23) was added to the staff as Instructor in Geography, and in the same year, when Professor Sauer resigned, Dr. McMurry became acting head of the newly organized Department of Geography, made up of all the geography work previously under the joint Department of Geology and Geography (see Part III: Department of Geography).

To secure for all students of the Department of Geology and Geography that important field training which is a first essential, a Summer Field Course in camp was established in 1920 at Mill Springs, Kentucky, with Case in charge of the courses in geology and Sauer in charge of those in geography. Sauer was in 1920 appointed director of the camp. In the next year George M. Ehlers took charge of the courses in geology, and in 1924 he became director of the camp in place of Professor Sauer. In 1924 Irving D. Scott took charge of the courses in physical geology at the camp and for Page  589many years thereafter conducted the work. The Summer Field Course was continued in connection with the Department of Geography at the Mill Springs station in Kentucky until the summer of 1936, when the camp was divided. At this time the Geology Field Course was established at State Bridge, Colorado, with Ehlers as director and with Belknap and Eardley added to the staff of instruction.

Russell Claudius Hussey ('11, Ph.D. '25), Associate Professor of Geology since 1931, became a member of the instructional staff of the department in 1921 to teach general and historical geology. After 1929 he carried the courses in historical geology independently and developed an introductory course in paleontology. From 1931 to 1936 Hussey served as Assistant to the Dean of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, in an advisory capacity to students, though continuing a part of his work in the Department of Geology. He also developed strong courses in the extension work of the University.

It was in 1921 that Laurence McKinley Gould ('21, Sc.D. '25) was appointed Instructor in General Geology, and he was an associate professor at the time of his resignation in 1932; his last four years were spent on leave in connection with exploring expeditions, the latest that of the first Byrd antarctic expedition. In 1932 he became Professor of Geology and Geography at Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota.

Miss Ellen Burden Stevenson ('20, M.S. '30), later Mrs. George M. Stanley, entered the department in 1923 as Instructor in Geology, was raised to an assistant professorship in 1931, and resigned to take up other work in the University in 1933. For a considerable time preceding this retirement from the department she had given but half time to her geological work.

In 1924 Walter A. Ver Wiebe (Cornell '13, Ph.D. ibid. '18) was made Instructor in General Geology, and retained this position until 1927, when he resigned to become Professor of Geology in the Municipal University at Wichita, Kansas. Ralph Leroy Belknap ('23e, Sc.D. '29), who joined the department in 1923 as Instructor and has been Associate Professor since 1939, has devoted his time to general geology, and especially to geological field surveying. Lewis Burnett Kellum (Johns Hopkins '19, Ph.D. ibid. '24) was in 1928 appointed Instructor in Paleontology and Petroleum Geology. His work in Mexico previous to his appointment had directed his attention to the structural problems there, and he returned during the summers for successive years, either alone or with colleagues and assistants from this or other universities. He attained his present rank of associate professor in 1937.

In 1928 the University Museums Building was completed, and the collections of fossils were moved to that building. Those members of the staff directly connected with paleontology were given quarters in the new building, which left much-needed space in the Natural Science Building. With this additional space and with new facilities it became possible to provide long-needed instruction in paleobotany, and Chester Arthur Arnold (Cornell '24, Ph.D. ibid. '29) took charge of this work, dividing his time between the Museum of Paleontology and the Department of Botany.

In the planning of the Natural Science Building, provision had been made for instruction in soil geology, and in 1927 Maurice William Senstius (M.S. '19, Sc.D. '28) took charge of that work and was later advanced to Assistant Professor. In 1930 Armand John Eardley (Utah '27, Ph.D. Princeton '30) was appointed Instructor to teach some of the courses in general and economic geology Page  590during Gould's absence in the antarctic. Upon the latter's resignation in 1932 Eardley became a permanent member of the staff, with his work largely in the field of structural geology. He has held an associate professorship since 1939. It was in 1930 also that George Mahon Stanley ('28e, Ph.D. '32) was appointed Instructor in General Geology, to continue certain courses in glacial geology formerly taught by Leverett.

In 1934, when he reached the compulsory retirement age of seventy years, Hobbs was made Professor Emeritus of Geology and was succeeded by Case as head of the department. The same year Thomas Seward Lovering (E.M. Minnesota '22, Ph.D. ibid. '24) was appointed to take charge of economic geology, work in which had been carried by other members of the staff since the death of Cook in 1933.

Extensive graduate work within the department has been carried on only within the last thirty years. Up to 1906, when the period opened, but two master's degrees and two of the doctorate of philosophy had been conferred — one of the latter on Mary E. Holmes in 1887 and the other on W. H. Sherzer in 1901. Even after the expansion had begun, it was of necessity a considerable number of years before the degrees could be conferred upon those who had been working in the department. Within this period and for some years thereafter, or until the department included a fair number of mature scholars, students were quite generally advised to continue beyond the master's degree at the better-equipped universities elsewhere. From the beginning, however, the degree of master of science or master of arts within the department was given only after a considerable amount of graduate work and upon completion of a thesis approved by the department. These theses in many cases have been of such value as to warrant their publication as definite contributions to the science.