In April 1938, the Council of The Geological Society of America authorized me to undertake the preparation of a biography of the late R. A. F. Penrose, Jr. The actual work was to be done by Helen R. Fairbanks, for six years managing editor of the publications of the Society. It was in that capacity that she came across the notebooks and diaries of Dr. Penrose, which are the property of the Society, and became convinced that within their pages lay the nucleus for a story of his life. It was largely due to her conviction upon that point that I was persuaded to present the matter to the Council, where it was promptly approved and the work was begun.
Since that time, however, many unexpected things have happened, some of which have greatly impeded and delayed the consummation of this work. The chief of these has been the World War II which, with its after-service, has claimed an unforeseen amount of time. Miss Fairbanks spent five years as head of the Department of Journalism at Saint Mary's College at South Bend, one year as head of American Red Cross service for women of the Armed Forces in the Military District of Washington, three years of active service as a lieutenant- commander in the WAVES, and is now with the Navy Department in Washington as historian for the Bureau of Yards and Docks.
Most of the actual collecting of data, however, was done at once. In the summer of 1938, Miss Fairbanks and I went together to see Dr. Penrose's brother, Spencer Penrose, at Colorado Springs. We found him much interested in the project and he put at our disposal all the material--literally trunksful--left in his hands. Miss Fairbanks spent some time there, going over and sorting a vast amount of material pertaining to the family, including many of the letters in this volume. She also visited Cripple Creek and Denver, and interviewed men who had known Penrose in his active days. Subsequently the same steps were taken with his close friends and relatives in Philadelphia and particularly his cousin, Ellen Penrose of Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
Literally hundreds of letters were written to those whose relations with Penrose, as indicated by the correspondence available, might have something of value to contribute to the picture.
From Charles Schuchert, late professor of paleontology at Yale University, we received valuable information concerning Penrose's early study of the problem of endowment with a portion of the fortune he had created. From Daniel C. Jackling, the man who saw the possibilities in low-grade copper, came a fine tribute and valuable other aid as given in the chapter on Utah copper. Dr. Edwin G. Conklin, longtime Secretary and three times President of the American Philosophical Society, contributed the material on that organization. Former . . .