1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Whitney, Josiah Dwight

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

WHITNEY, JOSIAH DWIGHT (1819-1896), American geologist, was born at Northampton, Massachusetts, on the 23rd of November 1819. He graduated at Yale in 1839, and after two years' work as assistant in the geological survey of New Hampshire, spent some time in Europe in the study of chemistry, mineralogy and geology. Returning to the United States in 1847, he laboured successfully for a time in the copper and iron lands of the Lake Superior region; in 1855 he became State chemist and professor in the Iowa University and took part in the geological survey of the state; he subsequently worked in the lead region of the upper Missouri river, in Wisconsin, and in Illinois, publishing many reports, singly or in collaboration with others. From 1860 to 1874 he was state geologist of California, and issued a comprehensive series of reports on its topography, geology and botany. In 1869, with William H. Brewer, he determined the heights of the principal Rocky Mountain summits; and in recognition of his labours Mount Whitney (14,502, in Inyo county, California, the highest peak in the United States) received its name from him. From 1865 until his death he was professor of geology and director of the school of mining and practical geology at Harvard University, residing in Cambridge save when absent on expeditions of research. The records of his investigations are somewhat dispersed; the most homogeneous of his writings are The Metallic Wealth of the United States, described and compared with that of other Countries (1854), a work of importance at the time of its issue, and Contributions to American Geology (vol. i. only, 1880). He died at Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire, on the 18th of August 1896.