Charles D. Walcott Collection,
1851-1940 and undated
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
Record Unit 7004
Creators:
Walcott, Charles D, (Charles Doolittle), 1850-1927
Dates:
1851-1940 and undated
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
11.7 linear meters and oversize.
Repository:
Smithsonian Institution Archives

Introduction
Introduction
The Charles D. Walcott Collection Papers (Record Unit 7004) were given to the Smithsonian by his wife, Mary Vaux Walcott, with certain more recent additions.
The Archives would like to thank Dr. Ellis L. Yochelson, United States Geological Survey, and Frederick J. Collier, Department of Paleobiology, National Museum of Natural History, for their assistance in transferring items from the Walcott family and the Department for inclusion in this collection.

Descriptive Entry
Descriptive Entry
The Charles D. Walcott Collection documents his personal, professional, and official life as well as activities of his family. Included are papers from his scientific and educational activities at the local and national levels, his career as a paleontologist, his administrative career with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and to a lesser extent with the Smithsonian, and material on one of his sons' participation in World War I. Some of the collection postdates Walcott's life, including condolences to his family, an unpublished biography, correspondence between the biographer and Mrs. Walcott, and paleontological field notes by some of his colleagues.
For records relating to Walcott's family there are diaries; photographs; and correspondence with his children, his last two wives, and other family members. There is a considerable amount of material consisting of correspondence, photographs, memorabilia, publications, and official documents from the French and German governments concerning Benjamin Stuart Walcott's involvement with the Lafayette Flying Corps in France during World War I and efforts to establish a memorial in France for the Corps. Other personal records include legal documents; personal financial records; and family correspondence concerning financial investments in power companies, the prolonged illness and death of his son Charles, the death of his wife, Helena, and his daughter's travels through Europe.
Walcott's professional life is divided between his service with the USGS and the Smithsonian. Documenting his USGS years are photographs; speeches; scrapbooks; reports and correspondence from his work on forest reserves, the investigation of scientific work conducted by the federal government, and land reclamation; and annual reports. Walcott's Smithsonian career is documented primarily by correspondence written while serving as honorary curator of paleontology and Acting Assistant Secretary in charge of the United States National Museum. One scrapbook includes extensive correspondence from scientists, government officials, and friends upon the occasion of Walcott's appointment as Secretary of the Smithsonian. For a more complete record of Walcott's association with the Smithsonian, the records of the Office of the Secretary (Record Units 45 and 46), records of the Assistant Secretary, Acting (Record Unit 56), and two special series relating to the budget (Record Unit 49) and to the Research Corporation (Record Unit 51) should be consulted.
For Walcott's career as a paleontologist, there is documentation in his field notes; publications of his as well as those of others in related areas; manuscripts; diaries; and photographs, including panoramic views of the Rockies in Alberta, British Columbia, and Montana. In addition, there are paleontological field notes by Ray T. Bassler, Charles Elmer Resser, and Edward Oscar Ulrich.
Walcott's role in promoting and developing national science policy is partially covered in the records relating to his involvement in the National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council, Washington Academy of Sciences, and the Carnegie Institution of Washington. Included are legal documents, correspondence, committee minutes, reports, proceedings, financial statements, membership lists, and related materials. Additional material on the Washington Academy of Sciences can be found in Record Unit 7099. Records documenting Walcott's involvement in the administration and development of the other organizations exist at those institutions. His affiliation with the George Washington Memorial Association is documented with correspondence, trustees' minutes, histories of the Association, and drawings and plans for a building. For other national developments there is correspondence covering Walcott's participation on the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics.
Other types of materials in this collection include certificates, diplomas, awards, and occasionally correspondence concerning his election to honorary and professional societies and the receipt of honorary degrees, and scrapbooks and diaries which touch on events throughout his life.
See also the online exhibition "Beauty in Service to Science: The Panoramas of Charles D. Walcott."

Historical Note
Historical Note
Charles D. Walcott (1850-1927) was born in New York Mills, New York, and attended the Utica public schools and Utica Academy, but never graduated. He demonstrated an early interest in natural history by collecting birds' eggs and minerals; and, while employed as a farm hand, he began collecting trilobites. These he later sold to Louis Agassiz at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology. Walcott began his professional scientific career in November 1876 when he was appointed as an assistant to James Hall, New York's state geologist. On July 21, 1879, Walcott joined the United States Geological Survey (USGS) as an assistant geologist. Shortly after arriving in Washington, D. C., he was sent to southwestern Utah to make stratigraphic sections. His later field work with the Survey included expeditions to the Appalachians, New England, New York, eastern Canada, and several Middle Atlantic states, as well as other parts of southwestern and western United States. From 1882 to 1893 he worked with the Survey's invertebrate Paleozoic paleontological collections, and in 1893 he was appointed Geologist in charge of Geology and Paleontology. He also served as an honorary curator of invertebrate Paleozoic fossils at the United States National Museum (USNM) from 1892 to 1907, and as Acting Assistant Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in charge of the USNM from 1897 to 1898. His fieldwork from this period resulted in several major publications, including
The Paleontology of the Eureka District
(1884), a study of fossils in Nevada;
The Fauna of the Olenellus Zone
(1888) concerning early North American Cambrian fossils;
Correlation Papers on the Cambrian
(1890); and
Fossil Medusae
(1898). In 1894 Walcott was appointed Director of the USGS. Serving until 1907, he greatly expanded the functions of the agency and was successful in increasing federal appropriations. In 1891 Congress had given the President the authority to establish public forests, but it was not until 1897 that the administration of the forest reserves was placed under the USGS. Walcott was instrumental in having legislation passed to enforce the preservation of forest reserves and to add additional land to the reserve program. His predecessor at the USGS initiated an arid land reclamation program in 1888 which Walcott continued as part of his forest reserve program. In 1902 he established the Hydrographic Branch to administer the program; but four years later the Branch, since renamed the Reclamation Service, became a separate federal agency. He also created the Division of Mineral Resources to experiment with coal combustion. In 1907 it was renamed the Bureau of Mines. At the request of President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903, Walcott served as chairman of a committee to study the scientific work being conducted by the federal government.
Walcott was appointed Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution on January 31, 1907, and resigned from the USGS in April 1907. His administration at the Smithsonian was marked by numerous accomplishments, including the completion of the National Museum Building (now the National Museum of Natural History) in 1911. He was also successful in convincing Detroit industrialist Charles Lang Freer to donate his extensive Oriental art collection and money for a building during his lifetime rather than after Freer's death, as was originally intended. Walcott also set up the National Gallery of Art (predecessor to the National Museum of American Art) as a separate administrative entity in 1920. To administer Frederick G. Cottrell's gift of patent rights to his electrical precipitator, the Research Corporation was formed in 1912, with revenue from this patent, as well as future ones, to be used to advance scientific research at the Smithsonian and other educational institutions. Walcott served on the Corporation's Board of Directors for several years. To further increase the Smithsonian's endowment, Walcott was planning a major fundraising effort; but this was not pursued following his death an February 9, 1927. In 1922, he and his wife established a fund in their names at the Smithsonian to support paleontological research.
Despite his many administrative responsibilities as Secretary, Walcott was able to find time to continue his research and collecting of fossils from the Cambrian and Ordovician periods, with primary focus on the Canadian Rockies. In 1909 he located Cambrian fossils near Burgess Pass above Field, British Columbia. The following season he discovered the Burgess shale fauna, which proved to be his greatest paleontological discovery. Most of this research was published in various volumes of the
Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections
from 1908-1931. His one major publication during this period was
Cambrian Brachiopoda
, published in 1912. Walcott continued to return to the Canadian Rockies for most seasons through 1925, when he made his last field expedition. As one of the foremost scientific figures in Washington, Walcott helped to establish several organizations with international renown and restructure existing national organizations. In 1902, Walcott, along with several other prominent individuals, met with Andrew Carnegie to establish the Carnegie Institution of Washington as a center for advanced research and training in the sciences. Walcott served the Institution in several administrative capacities. He was also instrumental in convincing Carnegie that the Institution should have laboratories built for scientists rather than use his gift solely for research grants.
Elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1896, Walcott played a role in having the Academy become more actively involved in national science policy by serving in many official capacities. In addition to serving on innumerable committees, he held the offices of treasurer, vice president, president, and council member. He was also appointed to two presidential committees--Timber Utilization and Outdoor Recreation--in 1924 and was reappointed to both in 1926. He was the Academy's first recipient of the Mary Clark Thompson Medal. Following his death, his wife established the Charles Doolittle Walcott Fund for achievements in Cambrian research.
In 1916 the Academy, at the request of President Woodrow Wilson, created the National Research Council within the Academy to assist the federal government in the interest of national preparedness. Walcott, as one who met with Wilson, became actively involved in the organization of the Council by sitting on many of its committees, including one which planned for the present headquarters of the Council and the Academy. Walcott contributed significantly to the development of American aviation. He pressed for the establishment of the National Advisory Committee for Aviation, which was a predecessor of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. He was instrumental in establishing air mail service, organizing the Committee on Aerial Photographic Surveying and Mapping, and writing the Air Commerce Act of 1926. Besides his scientific activities, Walcott lent his influence to other groups, such as the George Washington Memorial Association. That group attempted to create a memorial to Washington by forming an institution to promote science, literature, and the arts, just as Washington had proposed should be done.
Walcott was married three times - to Lura Ann Rust (d. 1876), to Helena Breese Stevens (d. 1911), and to Mary Morris Vaux (d. 1940). By his second wife he had four children: Charles Doolittle, Sidney Stevens, Helen Breese, and Benjamin Stuart. Charles died while a student at Yale, and Benjamin was killed in action in France while flying for the Lafayette Flying Corps. In 1914 Walcott married Mary Morris Vaux, who, while accompanying him on his field trips, studied and painted North American wildflowers. Her work was published in five volumes by the Smithsonian in 1925.
Although Walcott never received an academic degree, he was the recipient of numerous honorary degrees from colleges and universities in the United States and Europe. His colleagues recognized his contribution to paleontology by awarding him the Bigsby and Wollaston Medals from the Geological Society of London; the Gaudry Medal of the Geological Society of France; and the Hayden Medal from the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. He also served as a founder and president, 1899-1910, of the Washington Academy of Sciences; president of the Cosmos Club, 1898; president, 1915-1917, of the Washington Branch of the Archeological Institute of America; and president, 1925-1927, of the American Philosophical Society.

Chronology
Chronology
March 31, 1850
Born in New York Mills, New York
1858-1868
Attended public schools in Utica, New York, and Utica Academy
1863
Began collecting natural history specimens
1871
Moved to Trenton Falls, New York, to work on William P. Rust's farm and began collecting trilobites
January 9, 1872
Married Lura Am Rust
1873
Sold collection of fossils to Louis Agassiz at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology
January 23,1876
Lura Ann Walcott died
November 1876
Appointed assistant to Janes Hall, state geologist of New York
1876
Joined American Association for the Advancement of Science
July 21, 1879
Appointed Assistant Geologist, United States Geological Survey (USGS)
1879
Assisted Clarence Edward Dutton in Grand Canyon region in south-central Utah and the Eureka district in Nevada
July 1, 1882
Placed in charge of Division of Invertebrate Paleozoic Paleontology at USGS
1882
Elected Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science
Field work in Nevada and Grand Canyon
1883
Promoted to Paleontologist, USGS
Field work in Grand Canyon and Cambrian studies in Adirondacks and northwestern Vermont
1884
Field work in Cambrian fossils in western Vermont; coal deposits in central Arizona; and Lower Paleozoic of Texas' central mineral region; Published first major paper
The Paleontology of the Eureka District
(USGS Monograph 8)
1885
Field work on Cambrians in Highland Range of central Nevada; Permian fossils of southwestern Utah; and Cambrian fossils in Wasatch Mountains near Salt Lake City
1886
Published "Classification of the Cambrian System in North America"
Cambrian field work in northern New York and western Vermont
1887
Cambrian field work in New York, western Massachusetts, and southwestern Vermont
1888
Married Helena Breese Stevens; Attended International Geological Congress in London; Placed in charge of all invertebrate paleontology at USGS; Published
The Fauna of the Olenellus Zone
which discusses Cambrian fossils in North America; Field work in Wales and on Canadian-Vermont border
May 17, 1889
Son Charles Doolittle born
1889
Cambrian field work in North Carolina, Tennessee, Mohawk Valley of New York, Vermont, and Quebec
1890
Published
Correlation Papers on the Cambrian
; Cambrian strata field work in New York and Vermont and Ordovician strata field work in Colorado Springs, Colorado
1891
Field work in New York, Colorado, and Appalachians from Virginia to Alabama
October 2, 1892
Son Sidney Stevens born
1892
Placed in charge of all paleontological work at USGS; Field work in southern Pennsylvania and western Maryland
1892-1907
Honorary curator of invertebrate Paleozoic fossils at United States National Museum (USNM)
January 1, 1893
Appointed Geologist in charge of Geology and Paleontology, USGS
1893
Vice President, Section E (Geology and Geography), American Association for the Advancement of Science; Examined Lower Paleozoic rocks in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee; Prepared paleontological exhibition for Chicago's Columbian Exposition
August 20, 1894
Daughter Helen Breese born
1894
Placed in charge of all paleontological collections at USNM; Appointed Director, USGS; Field work in central Colorado and White Mountain Range in California and Nevada
1895
Cambrian field work in Montana, Idaho, and Massachusetts
July 8, 1896
Son Benjamin Stuart born
1896
Joined National Academy of Sciences (NAS); Field work in eastern California and western Nevada and Franklin Mountains near El Paso, Texas
January 27, 1897
Appointed Acting Secretary in Charge of the USNM
1897
Conducted examination of forest reserves and national parks in Black Hills, Big Horn Mountains, and Inyo Mountains
June 30, 1898
Resigned as Acting Assistant Secretary in Charge of the USNM
1898
Field work in Lexington, Virginia; Teton Forest Reserve, Wyoming; Belt Mountains near Helena, Montana; and Idaho; President of the Cosmos Club, Washington, D.C.; Published
Fossil Medusae
(USGS Monograph 30)
1899
Field work in Newfoundland, New Brunswick, and Quebec; One of the founders of the Washington Academy of Sciences
1899-1911
President of the Washington Academy of Sciences
1900
Field work in Montana and Rhode Island
1901
Field work in Pennsylvania
January 4, 1902
One of the founders of the Carnegie Institution of Washington (CIW) and Secretary of the Board of Incorporators
1902
Member of the Advisory Committee on Geology and Advisory Committee on Geophysics of CIW
1902-1905
Secretary of Board of Trustees and of Executive Committee of CIW
1902-1922
Member, Executive Committee of Board of Trustees of CTW
1902-1923
Member of Council of NAS
1902-1927
Member, Board of Trustees, CIW
1903
Head of Board of Scientific Surveys, CIW; Field work in Uinta Mountains, Utah; House Range of western Utah; Snake River Range of eastern Nevada; Chairman of committee to study scientific work conducted by federal government
1904-1913
Honorary Curator, Department of Mineral Technology, USNM
1905
Field work in Montana's Rocky Mountains and Cambrian fossils of Utah's House Range
January 31, 1907
Appointed Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution
April 1907
Resigned as Director of the USGS
1907
Field work at Mount Stephen, Castle Mountains, Lake Louise, and Mount Bosworth in British Columbia
1907-1917
Vice President of NAS
1908
Field work in Montana, British Columbia, and Alberta
1909
Found Cambrian fossils near Burgess Pass above Field, British Columbia
1910
Found Burgess shale fauna
June 20, 1911
National Museum Building (now the National Museum of Natural History) completed
July 11, 1911
Wife Helena died in train accident in Bridgeport, Connecticut
1911
Field work in British Columbia
1912
Field work in Alberta and British Columbia; Published
Cambrian Brachiopoda
(USGS Monograph 51)
April 7, 1913
Son Charles Doolittle died
1913
Burgess shale work in Robson Park district, British Columbia, and in Jasper Park, Alberta
June 30, 1914
Married Mary Morris Vaux
1914
Field work in Glacier, British Columbia, and White Sulphur Springs and Deep Creek Canyon, Montana
1914-1927
Vice Chairman, Board of Trustees, CIW
1915
Living algae field work in Yellowstone National Park and West Gallatin River; fossil field work in Arizona 1915-1917; President, Washington Branch of the Archeological Institute of America
1915-1919
Chairman, Executive Committee of National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics
June 30, 1916
Elected member of National Research Council (NRC)
October 1916
Freer Gallery of Art building construction begun
1916
Field work in British Columbia and Alberta
1916-1923
First Vice Chairman, NRC
December 12, 1917
Son Benjamin Stuart died in military action in France
1917
Appointed member of NRC's Executive Committee, Aeronautics Committee, and Geology and Paleontology Committee; Chairman, NRC's Military Committee; Burgess shale field work around Lake MacArthur and in Vermilion River Valley
1917-1922
Chairman, Executive Committee, CIW
1917-1923
President, NAS
June 1918
Helped organize National Parks Educational Committee (became National Parks Association in 1919)
1918
Field work in Alberta; Member, NRC's Interim Committee; Chairman, NRC's Military Division and Section on Aeronautics
1918-1919
Chairman, National Parks Educational Committee
1919
Field work in Alberta; Chairman, NRC's Committee on Scientific Men as Reserve officers in Reorganized Army; Chairman, NRC's Committee on Removal of Offices of National Research Council; Chairman, NRC's Committee on Representation of United States at International Meetings to be held at Brussels
1919-1920
Member, NRC's Committee on General Policy and Solicitation of Funds; Chairman, NRC's Government Division
1919-1922
Member, NRC's Committee on Federal Grants for Research; Chairman, NRC's Committee on Publication of "The Inquiry" Results
1919-1924
Member, NRC's Research Information Service
1919-1925
Member, NRC's Executive Board
1919-1926
Member, National Parks Association's Executive Committee
1919-1927
Chairman, National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics
Chairman, NRC's Division of Federal Relations; Member, NRC's Executive Committee of Division of Federal Relations
1920
Field work in Alberta
1920-1921
Member, NAS's Federal Relations Committee
1920-1922
Chairman, Committee on Budget (jointly with NAS and NRC); Member, NRC's Committee on Building Stone and Committee on Building Plans
1921
Field work in Alberta
1921
Freer Gallery of Art building completed; Received first Mary Clark Thompson Medal from NAS
1921-1924
President, National Parks Association
1921-1927
Chairman, NRC's Executive Committee of Division of Federal Regulations
1922
Field work in Alberta and British Columbia; Established Charles D. and Mary Vaux Walcott Fund at Smithsonian
1922-1923
Member, NRC's Committee on Stabilization of Permanent Foundations; Chairman, Committee on Finance (jointly with NAS and NRC)
1922-1925
Member, NRC's Committee on Building; Member, NRC's Committee on Policies
1923
Field work in Alberta and British Columbia; President, American Association for the Advancement of Science; Freer Gallery of Art opened
1923-1924
Chairman, Committee on Dedication of the New Building (jointly with NAS and NRC)
1923-1925
Member, NRC's Interim Committee; Member, Executive Committee, Committee on Exhibits in the New Building (jointly with NAS and NRC)
1923-1927
Second Vice Chairman, NRC
1924
Field work in Alberta and British Columbia
1924-1925
Member, Committee on Exhibits (jointly with NAS and NRC)
1925
Field work in Alberta; Life Member, American Association for the Advancement of Science
1925-1927
President, American Philosophical Society
1926
Helped draft Air Commerce Act of 1926
1926-1927
Board of Trustees, National Parks Association
February 9, 1927
Died in Washington, D.C.

Notes
Personal Papers

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7004, Walcott, Charles D, (Charles Doolittle), 1850-1927, Charles D. Walcott Collection

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Walcott, B. Stuart. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Jenny, Adele Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ulrich, Edward Oscar, 1857-1944. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Bassler, Ray S. (Ray Smith), b. 1878. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Resser, Charles Elmer, 1889-1943 Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Carnegie Institution of Washington. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
George Washington Memorial Association Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
National Academy of Sciences. Daniel Giraud Elliot Fund Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
National Research Council. Institute for Research in Tropical America Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Committee on Organization of Government Scientific Work. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
United States National Museum. Division of Stratigraphic Paleontology Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
United States National Museum. Division of Correspondence and Documents. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Washington Academy of Sciences Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Washington Memorial Association, George. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Elliot Fund, Daniel Giraud. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Daniel Giraud Elliot Fund. Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Smithsonian Institution Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Geological Survey (U.S.) Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Geology. Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Aeronautics Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Paleontology Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Scientific illustrations Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Portraits Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

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Smithsonian Institution Archives
Washington, D.C.
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