James Hall, 1811–98, American geologist and paleontologist, b. Hingham, Mass., grad. Rensselaer School (later Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), 1832. An authority on stratigraphy and invertebrate paleontology, he joined the New York state geological survey in 1836 and in 1839 became state geologist for New York. He wrote Paleontology of New York (8 vol. in 13, 1847–94), a monumental report on the paleontology of the state; his work formed the basis for the later geological histories of North America. He also served briefly as state geologist for Iowa and Wisconsin and was director (1866–94) of the New York State Museum at Albany.
See studies by R. C. Randall (1964) and J. M. Clarke (1921, repr. 1973).