The 1879 act establishing the United States Geological Survey (USGS) declares "And all collections of rocks, minerals, soils, and fossils, and objects of natural history, archaeology, and ethnology, made by the Coast and Interior Survey, the Geological Survey, or by any other parties for the Government of the United States, when no longer needed for investigations in progress, shall be deposited in the National Museum." Many of the paleontologists affiliated with the USGS Paleontology and Stratigraphy Branch have been stationed at the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) to study and care for the national collections. This close working relationship between the USGS and the NMNH has resulted in the Smithsonian Archives acquiring records and special collections documenting paleontological work of the Survey and its scientists.
The papers of Timothy William Stanton document his professional career at the United States Geological Survey, and his research on Cretaceous invertebrate fossils. The collection is also documents Stanton's many field explorations conducted in the western and southwestern United States between 1893 and 1928. This work is primarily illustrated by copies of outgoing letters written by Stanton during each field season. Included are letters written to the Chief Geologist, USGS, which provide monthly summaries of field operations, and correspondence written by Stanton to professional colleagues describing the work. The collection also includes incoming and outgoing correspondence documenting an eight year period (1921-1928) of Stanton's career. The letters provide information on his USGS duties, including his service as Chairman of the Committee on Geologic Names; his work as Custodian of Mesozoic Invertebrates in the USNM; and his professional activities, including his work as President of Paleontological Society, 1921, and Vice-President of the Geological Society of America, also in 1921. Of special interest are letters documenting John B. Reeside's field work in the western United States during the 1920s. Finally, Stanton's outgoing correspondence from 1894 to 1916 is maintained in a series of letterpress volumes. The outgoing letters primarily illustrate his official USGS duties and contain many reports on fossils sent to Stanton for identification. The volumes also contain Charles Abiathar White's outgoing correspondence from 1885 to 1894.
Researchers should also consult SI Archives Accession 88-180, United States Geological Survey, Paleontology and Stratigraphy Branch, Branch Chief Records for additional Stanton correspondence.
Timothy William Stanton (1860-1953) was a paleontologist specializing in the study of Cretaceous invertebrates. He was educated at the University of Colorado (B.S., 1883; M.S., 1895) and Columbian (now George Washington) University (Ph.D., 1897). His 46-year career with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) began in 1889 when he was appointed Assistant Paleontologist to support Charles Abiathar White's work on Cretaceous invertebrates. In 1892, he replaced White as Geologist-in-Charge of the work. Stanton was promoted to Chief of the Section of Paleontology in 1900, and, in 1903, he was made Chief of the newly created Section of Paleontology and Stratigraphy. From 1930 to 1932, Stanton served as Acting Chief Geologist of the USGS. In 1932, he was promoted to Chief Geologist and he remained in the position until his retirement from the Survey in 1935. For many years, Stanton also acted as Chairman of the USGS Committee on Geologic Names. In addition to his USGS duties, Stanton served the United States National Museum (USNM) in an honorary capacity as Custodian of Mesozoic Invertebrates from 1894 to 1953. Stanton's career with the USGS was marked by extensive field research, especially in the western and southwestern United States. He has been described as an outstanding fossil collector. One biographer stated that during his early field work "... Stanton made collections of fossils that have not since been surpassed for quality and scope." Despite the press of USGS duties, Stanton managed to published several monographs and papers, mostly on the Cretaceous deposits of the western United States. He was active within the geological profession and served as President of the Paleontological Society in 1921 and Vice-President of the Geological Society of America in the same year.
For additional biographical information on Stanton see "Memorial to Timothy William Stanton (1860-1953)," by John B. Reeside, Jr. Proceedings Volume of the Geological Society of America Annual Report for 1954, pp. 137-142. 1955.
Smithsonian Institution Archives
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