On Her Own Terms: Annie Montague Alexander and the Rise of Science in the American West

By Barbara R. Stein | Go to book overview

3
A Passion for Paleontology

Before the trip through northern California, Alexander had never verbalized an academic interest in natural science; her curriculum at Lasell was lacking in this arena. But her thrill at learning the names of the plants and animals that summer, and her obvious pleasure in being outdoors, may have prompted the choice. Study of earth's origins and the history of its flora and fauna was a logical prerequisite to full understanding of its more recent forms.

The course that Alexander chose to audit in the fall of 1900 was given by John C. Merriam, a faculty member in the Department of Geology who had acquired a reputation as an inspiring and captivating lecturer. Merriam had arrived in Berkeley in 1894 after completing his doctorate in paleontology at the University of Munich and by 1900 had added several advanced courses in paleontology to the department's curriculum, including Vertebrate Paleontology, the History of Vertebrate Life in North America, and the Geological History of Man. Merriam's presence in the geology department focused welcome attention on the discipline of vertebrate paleontology at Cal and he single-handedly sparked the development of its fossil collections. 1

Merriam's lectures fascinated Alexander and she began to develop a passion for paleontology. At the end of the fall semester, Martha left for the East, and less than two months later Annie wrote to her delightedly, “What a fever the study of old earth that you thought should be a part of my education has set up in me! I am really alarmed. If it were a general interest in geology there might be something quite wholesome in it but it seems to centralize on fossils, fossils! And I am beleagu[er]ed. ” 2

Armed with her “new and valued companions—the pick and collecting sack”—Alexander began to explore the geology and topography of the Bay

-22-

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On Her Own Terms: Annie Montague Alexander and the Rise of Science in the American West
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Illustrations vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Introduction xiii
  • On Her Own Terms *
  • 1 - Samuel Alexander and Henry Baldwin 3
  • 2 - Life in Oakland 13
  • 3 - A Passion for Paleontology 22
  • 4 - Africa, 1904 35
  • 5 - Meeting C. Hart Merriam 48
  • 6 - Alaska, 1906 58
  • 7 - Meeting Joseph Grinnell 63
  • 8 - Founding a Museum of Vertebrate Zoology 76
  • 9 - An Unusual Collaboration 88
  • 10 - Louise and Prince William Sound 97
  • 11 - Support for Paleontology 107
  • 12 - Hearst, Sather, Flood 114
  • 13 - Innisfail Ranch 120
  • 14 - Vancouver Island and the Trinity Alps 138
  • 15 - The Team of Alexander and Kellogg 148
  • 16 - From “a Friend of the University” 155
  • 17 - Founding a Museum of Paleontology 165
  • 18 - A Restless Decade 181
  • 19 - Europe, 1923 190
  • 20 - The Temple Tour 203
  • 21 - The “amoeba Treatment” 214
  • 22 - Fieldwork–the Later Years 224
  • 23 - Saline Valley 244
  • 24 - The End of an Era 253
  • 25 - Hawaii–“my Only Real Home” 261
  • 26 - The Switch to Botany 274
  • 27 - Baja California–tres Mujeres Sin Miedo 290
  • 28 - Investing in the Future 299
  • 29 - An Enduring Legacy 308
  • Epilogue 315
  • Appendix 317
  • Notes 321
  • Index 359
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