1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Dana, James Dwight

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9815771911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 7 — Dana, James Dwight

DANA, JAMES DWIGHT (1813–1895), American geologist, mineralogist and zoologist, was born in Utica, New York, on the 12th of February 1813. He early displayed a taste for science, which had been fostered by Fay Edgerton, a teacher in the Utica high school, and in 1830 he entered Yale College, in order to study under Benjamin Silliman the elder. Graduating in 1833, for the next two years he was teacher of mathematics to midshipmen in the navy, and sailed to the Mediterranean while engaged in his duties. In 1836–1837 he was assistant to Professor Silliman in the chemical laboratory at Yale, and then, for four years, acted as mineralogist and geologist of a United States exploring expedition, commanded by Captain Charles Wilkes, in the Pacific ocean (see Wilkes, Charles). His labours in preparing the reports of his explorations occupied parts of thirteen years after his return to America in 1842. In 1844 he again became a resident of New Haven, married the daughter of Professor Silliman, and in 1850, on the resignation of the latter, was appointed Silliman Professor of Natural History and Geology in Yale College, a position which he held till 1892. In 1846 he became joint editor and during the later years of his life he was chief editor of the American Journal of Science and Arts (founded in 1818 by Benjamin Silliman), to which he was a constant contributor, principally of articles on geology and mineralogy. A bibliographical list of his writings shows 214 titles of books and papers, beginning in 1835 with a paper on the conditions of Vesuvius in 1834, and ending with the fourth revised edition (finished in February 1895) of his Manual of Geology. His reports on Zoophytes, on the Geology of the Pacific Area, and on Crustacea, summarizing his work on the Wilkes expedition, appeared in 1846, 1849 and 1852–1854, in quarto volumes, with copiously illustrated atlases; but as these were issued in small numbers, his reputation more largely rests upon his System of Mineralogy (1837 and many later editions in 1892); Manual of Geology (1862; ed. 4, 1895); Manual of Mineralogy (1848), afterwards entitled Manual of Mineralogy and Lithology (ed. 4, 1887); and Corals and Coral Islands (1872; ed. 2, 1890). In 1887 Dana revisited the Hawaiian Islands, and the results of his further investigations were published in a quarto volume in 1890, entitled Characteristics of Volcanoes. By the Royal Society of London he was awarded the Copley medal in 1877; and by the Geological Society the Wollaston medal in 1874. His powers of work were extraordinary, and in his 82nd year he was occupied in preparing a new edition of his Manual of Geology, the 4th edition being issued in 1895. He died on the 14th of April 1895.

His son Edward Salisbury Dana, born at New Haven on the 16th of November 1849, is author of A Textbook of Mineralogy (1877; new ed. 1898) and a Text Book of Elementary Mechanics (1881). In 1879–80 he was professor of natural philosophy and then became professor of physics at Yale.

See Life of J. D. Dana, by Daniel C. Gilman (1899).