Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 26.djvu/130

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120
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

SKETCH OF PROFESSOR JAMES HALL.

THE name of Professor James Hall is inseparably associated with the growth of American geology, the classification of the palæozoic strata of the continent, and the systematization of their paleontology. Connected with the New York State Geological Survey since 1837, he has been for about forty years, as chief of the paleontological department, engaged in the study of fossil remains. His words are now referred to in illustration of, and his name is cited as authority on, questions connected with the older geological formations of the continent, by the geologists of the world more frequently than those, probably, of any other American in the same field.

James Hall was born, of English parents, in Hingham, Massachusetts, on the 12th of September, 1811. He studied natural history, under the direction of Amos Eaton, at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, where he afterward became Professor of Geology. Professor Eaton had already, by his lectures before the members of the State Legislature and other audiences, and by his instrumentality in the organization of the Troy Lyceum of Natural History and in the formation of its geological collection, contributed to awaken an interest in the study of the natural history and geology of the State. He had superintended an agricultural and geological survey of Rensselaer and Albany Counties, and had made a survey of the district adjoining the Erie Canal, and published a report upon it. The subject of instituting a complete geological survey of the State was presented before the Legislature in 1834, and the act making provision for the work was passed in 1836. In the organization of the survey the State was divided into four districts, of which Mr, Hall was appointed assistant in the second district, under Professor Ebenezer Emmons, of Williams College. The district included the counties of Warren, Essex, Clinton, Franklin, Hamilton, and St. Lawrence, and afterward Jefferson. At the end of the year, on the appointment of Mr. Conrad, of the third district, to the department of paleontology, and the transfer of Mr. Vanuxen, of the fourth district, to the position he vacated, Mr. Hall was made geologist of the third district, including the counties of Montgomery, Herkimer, Oneida, Lewis, Oswego, Madison, Onondaga, Cayuga, Wayne, Ontario, Monroe, Orleans, and Livingston. He published annual reports of his work regularly from 1838 to 1841, and concluded the series with a final report in 1843, which forms one of the series of works on the natural history of the State published by the Legislature. In this volume he gave a full description of the order and succession of the strata, their mineralogical and lithological characters, and the organic remains contained in them. Concerning the form in which the volumes of the reports are published, Professor Hall has related an incident that affords a curious