|| HISTORY AND
PHILOSOPHY OF GEOLOGY
Gerald M. and Susan T. Friedman
DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD to
Clifford M. Nelson
History and Philosophy of Geology Division, Geol. Soc. of America
Citation by Ken Aalto:
Today we honor Clifford M. Nelson, geologist and historian at the U. S.
Geological Survey, for the extraordinary service that he has committed to over
the decades in behalf of the history of geology in general, and of the GSA
History and Philosophy of Geology Division in particular. He earlier served our
division as secretary-treasurer, newsletter editor, vice-chairman, and chairman;
he chaired the U. S. Committee for History of Geology (National Research
Council) from 1985-90; he is a fellow of GSA and the Linnean Society of London,
and a member of the History of Earth Sciences Society, the International
Commission on the History of Geological Sciences (INHIGEO) and the History of
Science Society. Dr. Nelson received his doctorate at Berkeley in 1974. He has
published over fifty articles in refereed books and journals, principally on the
history of ideas and institutions in the earth sciences, especially U. S.
Geological Survey and its predecessor agencies. He has recently cowritten
Minerals, Lands, and Geology for the Common Defence and General Welfare,
Volume 4, 1939-1961, and will continue with volume 5 (1961-1982) of this series,
started by Mary Rabbitt. Aside from history of science he has research interests
in the evolution and distribution of Cenozoic northern marine mollusks,
especially Neptunidae. In the spirit of the Gerald M. and Sue T.
Friedman Distinguished Service Award, we have chosen Cliff
Nelson as an excellent exemplar of service to the community of historians of
Response by Clifford M. Nelson:
Thank you, Ken, for your kind words. But this award really should go to the U.S.
Geological Survey, the agency that has enabled me during the past 35 years to
practice and serve, mostly under the aegis of other duties as assigned, the
history of the earth sciences.
This year also marks the more important anniversary of the History and
Philosophy Division’s founding in 1976. The Division’s establishment followed by
more than a decade the creation of the International Commission on the History
of Geological Sciences (INHIGEO) under the umbrella of the International Union
of Geological Sciences. Gordon Craig and Endre Dudich recalled in Episodes
in 1988 that INHIGEO was conceived at New Delhi in 1964 and born three years
later during a symposium at Yerevan.
George White and other U.S. historians of geology returned from Yerevan and
subsequent INHIGEO symposiums hoping that the Geological Society of America
might also wish to actively promote the history of the earth sciences. White led
the long effort to establish a new History of Geology Division and the GSA’s
Council approved it as a formal unit on November 7, 1976. Claude Albritton,
Gordon Winder, and Bob Dott served as the Division’s original Management Board;
they, Cecil Schneer, and their successors took me along for what proved to be an
eight-year ride as Secretary-Treasurer and Newsletter Editor and then
three more years of service elsewhere on the Management Board. The
Newsletter began with Volume 1, Number 1, in February 1977, but the issues
currently reproduced on the Division’s web site do not predate 2001.
Thanks to the Friedmans for establishing the Distinguished Service Award in 2005
and to the Division’s present Awards Committee and Management Board for enabling
me to join Bob Ginsburg and the other awardees in receiving this honor. Thanks,
as well, to George White for beginning during 1958-60 my interest in the history
of geology; to Jim Fisher, for insisting in 1961 that his graduate students join
the GSA; to Joe Gregory, for encouraging me to turn my term paper into my
initial history article in 1968; and to Jim Balsley, for providing in 1976 the
opportunity for me to practice in the history of the earth sciences without the
benefit of a formal license in history.
So kindly join me in a toast to the continued health and productivity of the
History and Philosophy of Geology Division. I regret only that I cannot do so in
one my favorite beverages. To the Division, then, esto perpetua!
|| HISTORY AND
PHILOSOPHY OF GEOLOGY