Edward Oscar Ulrich (1857-1944) was an invertebrate paleontologist specializing in the study of Paleozoic fauna and formations. He developed an interest in fossils as a youth, collecting in the rich formations around his home in Covington, Kentucky. Ulrich attended German Wallace and Baldwin College at Berea, Ohio and the Ohio Medical College at Cincinnati, but did not receive a degree from either. In 1877, he was appointed Curator of the Cincinnati Society of Natural History. He resigned the position in 1880 to become superintendent of the Little Caribou silver mines near Boulder, Colorado. Ulrich returned to Cincinnati in 1883 and for the next fourteen years worked as a free lance geologist and paleontologist, as well as an illustrator of geological monographs. During this period he was employed on the state geological surveys of Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio, and Kentucky. In 1897, Ulrich was appointed Geologist with the United States Geological Survey (USGS). He remained with the USGS until his retirement in 1932. He continued his paleontological studies as a Research Associate at the United States National Museum until his death.
Ulrich has been called "... the greatest descriptive paleontologist that America has ever produced." He was an authority on Paleozoic invertebrates, particularly the Bryozoa, Ostracoda, and conodonts. His bibliography included over 120 titles, with "Revision of the Paleozoic System," (1911) generally considered his classic work. In this work, Ulrich introduced radical changes in the classification of early Paleozoic formations and proposed two new systems -- the Ozarkian and Canadian. Ulrich did extensive field work in most of the Paleozoic formations east of the Rocky Mountains. He also conducted six field investigations in Europe between 1922 and 1931.
Ulrich was active within the scientific community, and served several organizations in elected or appointed capacities. He was an original Fellow of the Geological Society of America, President of the Paleontological Society, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He was the recipient of the Mary Clark Thompson medal of the National Academy of Sciences in 1930, and the Penrose medal of the Geological Society of America in 1932. Ulrich was awarded an honorary M.A. (1886) and D.Sc. (1892) from German Wallace and Baldwin College.
For additional biographical information on Ulrich see "Memorial to Edward Oscar Ulrich," by Ray S. Bassler. Proceedings Volume of the Geological Society of America Annual Report for 1944, pp. 331-352, May 1945, and, "Biographical Memoir of Edward Oscar Ulrich, 1857-1944," by Rudolf Ruedemann. National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoirs, volume XXIV, 1947.