Josiah Whitney

Josiah Whitney

Josiah Whitney

Birth : (1819-11-23)November 23, 1819 Northampton, Massachusetts

Death : August 18, 1896(1896-08-19)(aged 76) Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire

Personal Information

Name Josiah Whitney
Birth (1819-11-23)November 23, 1819 Northampton, Massachusetts
Birth Place Northampton, Massachusetts
Death (1896-08-19)(aged 76) Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire
Died At Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire
Nationality United States
Alma Mater Yale University
Famous Research Mount Whitney

Word Cloud

Events Occured in Scienctist Life


Early years Whitney was born November 23, 1819 in Northampton, Massachusetts, the oldest of 12 children.


In 1836, he entered Yale University where he studied chemistry, mineralogy and astronomy.


After graduation in 1839, he continued to study chemistry in Philadelphia, and in 1840 he joined a geologic survey of New Hampshire as an unpaid assistant to Charles T. Jackson.


In 1841, he was preparing to enter Harvard Law School, when he happened to hear a lecture on geology by Charles Lyell.


He decided to change career plans and sailed to Europe in 1842 to continue his studies in science.


When Whitney returned home in 1847, he and John Wells Foster were hired to assist Charles T. Jackson in making a federal survey, of the Lake Superior land district of northern Michigan, which was about to become a major copper and iron mining region.


When Jackson was dismissed from the survey, Foster and Whitney completed it in 1850 and the final report was published under their names.


Building on this experience, Whitney became a mining consultant, and eventually wrote the book, Metallic Wealth of the United States (1854).


During the 1850s, Whitney participated in geological surveys of Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin.


He was appointed state chemist and professor in the Iowa State University in 1855, and together with James Hall, he issued reports on Iowa's geological survey (1858-1859).


In 1858-1860, he took part in the survey of the lead region of the Upper Missouri River, publishing, again with Hall, a report in 1862.


In 1860, he was appointed the state geologist for California and was instructed by the legislature to undertake a comprehensive geologic survey of the state.


In 1867, the survey was eliminated from the budget, and work was suspended in 1868.


Although the California Geological Survey ceased work when funds were eliminated, Whitney managed to retain the title of state geologist until 1874.


In fact, California was left without a geological agency until 1880, when the legislature created the State Mining Bureau, which was empowered—after the legislators' experience with Whitney—only to address mining issues, and set up with a board of trustees to keep the new agency focused on that narrow purpose.


One or two bureau chiefs tried to broaden the scope to include geology, but the bureau was not allowed to hire a geologist until 1928, six decades after the old survey's demise.


Whitney also wrote The Yosemite Book (1869), which was essentially a travel guide to Yosemite Valley and the surrounding area.


However, others assert that the skull is much younger, as little as 1000 years.


But Silliman was ultimately vindicated - first in 1874 when the first major California oil strike occurred, and then in subsequent decades when California went on to produce 80 million barrels per year by 1910 - 40% of total U.S. domestic oil production.


In 1865, Whitney was appointed to the Harvard faculty in order to found a school of mines.


When the survey work was definitively ended in 1874, Whitney returned to Harvard and opened the school of mines, which was quickly merged a year later into the Lawrence Scientific School.


Whitney married Louisa Goddard (born in Manchester, England, December 17, 1819; died in Cambridge, Massachusetts, May 13, 1882) on July 5, 1854.


She wrote The Burning of the Convent: a Narrative of the Destruction of the Ursuline School on Mount Benedict, Charlestown, by One of the Pupils (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1877), and Peasy's Childhood: an Autobiography (1878).


Their daughter Eleanor Goddard Whitney was born on November 29, 1856.


He named Lake Eleanor in Yosemite National Park for his daughter, who died in 1882.


Josiah Whitney died at Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire, on August 18, 1896.


Later reprinted without photographs as The Yosemite Guide-Book Whitney, Josiah D. (1878).