Geology then and now

Today I came across some photocopies of letters home from a Bryn Mawr sophomore geology major in 1918. ┬áIn it, the student thanks her mother for sending her homemade ambrosia candy and talks about a geology field trip she just got home from. If you’ve been reading my blog you should know by know that I love geology field trips, so of course I got excited when I saw it.

Here’s an excerpt I found especially interesting/funny–the student is talking about her professor who led the trip:

“…managed beautifully. It can’t be easy for the young man (he’s only about thirty-five) to engineer sixteen girls through all sorts of changes of trains, etc. And he never lost his composure for a second. Everything went just according to schedule. That was the case with the Valley Forge trip too. I say if you want anything done, get a MAN to do it. I like Dr. Wright very much. No one could be more polite and obliging to everyone than he is. He knows a lot too.”

Given the history of the geology department, I found this excerpt funny— “if you want anything done, get a man to do it”!

Ironically, our department was founded by Florence Bascom…here she is with her Brunton compass, dressed ready for the field.

Florence Bascom, in addition to being a cool lady, was a pioneer for women scientists. She was the first woman to be granted a phD from Johns Hopkins University, and, at the time, the only woman in the US to hold a doctorate in geology. In 1895 she founded BMC’s geology department.

Here’s a silkscreen a Bryn Mawr alum made commemorating our awesome history. The print was made during a printmaking class she took during her senior year. The alum is currently working for the New Jersey Geological Society–I was lucky enough to hear her speak about her current research a few semesters ago when she presented at Bryn Mawr.

When Florene Bascom started the department, she was certain that students received training not only in classrooms, but also in the field. The Valley Forge trip the student refers to still happens today–every student who takes geo 101 goes there to study in the field. Here’s a clipping from our student newspaper that my friend Kersti who works in special collections sent me. The article is from 1958.

The Marine Geology class I am in had a field trip this weekend. We went to Island Beach State Park in New Jersey. It was a fun trip, and hopefully these photos will prove that geology students today certainly don’t need a man to do something right!


Mary digging at trench at the beach.

Don and Anna taking a core.

So whether it’s in 1985, 1918, 1958, or last weekend, field trips have always been a cornerstone of our department from its beginning.

And, I’m pretty sure some of the other major departments might get a little jealous sometimes.

Here’s one more of my favorite clippings–it’s not from the College newspaper and I’m not sure of the date, but it’s still pretty cool. It says, “Are these Bryn Mawr students America’s brainiest girls?” And there’s a photo of a Mawrtyr in a paleontology lab.