The Cyclopædia of American Biography/Ogilvie, Ida Helen

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The Cyclopædia of American Biography  (1918) 
James E. Homans, editor
Ogilvie, Ida Helen

OGILVIE, Ida Helen, educator and scientist, b. New York City, 12 Feb., 1874, daughter of Clinton and Helen (Slade) Ogilvie. Miss Ogilvie's father was the celebrated landscape painter; her mother, also a painter, who has received considerable recognition, was a daughter of Jarvis Slade (q.v.). William Ogilvie, who came from Scotland to New York in 1745, was the first American ancestor on her father's side. Another ancestor was Judge Peter Ogilvie, a general in the War of 1812. Through her mother. Miss Ogilvie is of Mayflower descent through Richard Warren. Other notable ancestors are William Thomas, one of the founders of the Plymouth colony; Samuel Pratt, a relative of the first president of Yale; Judge Joseph Otis; Nathaniel Tilden; Capt. Nathaniel Thomas; William Hatch; and James Torrey; all notable in New England Colonial history. She was educated at the Brearley School and Bryn Mawr College, where she was graduated A.B. in 1900. While at Bryn Mawr she showed a marked aptitude for scientific research in geology and zoology. She prosecuted her research studies in zoology for two summers at the Marine Laboratory, Woods Holl, Mass. Her interest in geology was greater, and she eventually became a geologist of note. She explored the Adirondacks, publishing her observations in a paper under the title of “The Glaciation of the Adirondacks.” Later she studied at Columbia, where she was awarded the degree of Ph.D. in 1903. Her most notable investigations were along the line of past glaciation of the continent and of volcanic activities. She became a daring and intrepid explorer breaking the trail in the Canadian Rockies, north of the line of the railway. Miss Ogilvie has added to her distinctions that of mountain climber, but always as a scientific investigator, trying to solve the age-old riddles of the universe. Even Popocatapetl, one of the highest volcanoes in Mexico, held no terror for her, since she stood on the very rim of the crater, and looked down into its sulphurous depths. She carried her investigations to the Ortiz Mountains of New Mexico, which belong to the laccolith type of extinct volcano. These explorations enabled her to announce to the scientific world many new facts in regard to the chemical relationship of lavas. She also published important contributions to the subject of the effect of aridity on erosion. She was one of the first investigators to establish the axiom that aridity has a notable effect upon the conflagration of the surface of the earth, and upon the composition of the sands and soil. She also studied the work of intermittent streams, and gave the name “conoplain” to the form of surface produced by the action of such streams. Her accounts of these venturesome and satisfying excursions attracted immediate attention. Dr. Ogilvie lectured on geology in the Misses Rayson's School in New York in 1902-03. Her methods of presenting geology to the girls made it most interesting and easy of comprehension. In 1903, after receiving her Ph.D. degree, she was appointed lecturer in geology in Barnard College. Here her success was even more pronounced, and she has been steadily promoted, being since 1911 in full charge of her department, under the title of assistant professor. She also lectures to classes in Columbia University. The department of geology in Barnard originated with Miss Ogilvie's appointment. It now ranks equal with any university in the country for its thoroughness, for the work accomplished, and for the enthusiastic interest displayed by the students. Dr. Ogilvie's methods are all her own, and on account of her engaging individuality she defies the imitator. She is a fellow of the Geological Society of America, one of the two women to attain this high distinction; fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; fellow of the New York Academy of Science and of the Seismological Society of America. She stands in the vanguard of progressive women, and is, therefore, greatly interested in woman suffrage. It has been said of Miss Ogilvie that she owes her success to her determination and devotion to her profession, being willing, if necessary, to give twenty-four hours a day to her work. Perhaps her greatest contribution has been in blazing the way for other women, and in winning recognition in the scientific world.


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