November 29, 2011 - Denver Public Library, 5:30 PM, Gates Room, Fifth Floor –
Open to The Public
John Lindemann: “William Maclure’s 1809 Geologic Map of the United States: The First Geologic Map…Or Not?”
In 1809 a technical paper and map were published in the Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, bearing the title "Observations on the Geology of the United States, explanatory of a Geologic Map." The author of this paper and the included map was William Maclure. To geologists working within the science today, this "geologic map" is largely unrecognized. Furthermore, William Maclure, who for a time bore the rather grandiose title "Father of American Geology," is likewise largely unrecognized. With a publication date of 1809, Maclure’s "Geologic Map" takes precedence over the 1811 Cuvier/Brongniart geologic map of the Paris Basin and William "Strata" Smith’s 1815 geologic map of the UK, both of which can legitimately claim to be the first published geologic map.
Is this relegation of Maclure’s map to obscurity a quirk of intellectual fate or merely collective, historical amnesia? Is Maclure’s place in history to be as a philanthropist and utopian dreamer inextricably linked to David Owen and New Harmony, Indiana? Can Maclure the geologist be disentangled from the 19th century Enlightenment persona to stand as "The Father of American Geology"?
The RMMS website has a new look – Please check it out! http://www.RMMaps.org