The Florence Bascom papers house the personal papers of Florence Bascom, renowned geologist and former Bryn Mawr professor. The collection, which dates from 1862-1938, offers evidence of Bascom's career as a regarded geologist and petrographer, particularly her tenure with the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The papers allude to many of Bascom's geological interests and projects, but do not seem to offer comprehensive documentation of any.
The collection is divided into five series: "Correspondence, 1897-1937," "Research, 1892-1930" "Travel journal, 1883-1885," "United States Geological Survey, 1898-1938" and "Dorothy Wyckhoff papers, 1934-1936." Researchers should be aware that there is much overlap between the series.
The "Correspondence, 1897-1937" series houses incoming and outgoing letters, dating from 1897 to 1937. Almost if not all of the letters pertain to Bascom's professional activities, particularly her work for the United States Geological Survey, and more generally her work as a petrographer. There are two groups of correspondence presented here. The first set is a small sample of files arranged alphabetically by a geological subject. The second set of correspondence is considerably less orderly. Files of general correspondence, with occasional reference made to a particular person or subject, are arranged chronologically by the earliest date represented in each file. Please note that files overlap significantly in terms of date and subject matter, and interested researchers should peruse the entire set. In the second series, "Research, 1892-1930," researchers will find small and random samples of records evidencing Bascom's personal research, as well as her contributions to other larger projects. For example, researchers will find a notebook entitled "South Mountain, Blue Ridge Summit," which was the subject of Bascom's dissertation at Johns Hopkins University. There are files containing field notes and analysis of collected geological samples, as well as files pertaining to Bascom's work for the Delaware Bridge Commission in 1921 and Ward's Natural Science Establishment circa 1895. The series is broken down into four subseries: "General work files," "Notebooks," "Manuscripts and other notes," and "Specimen Analysis." Researchers are advised to review the folder titles for further information. The third series, "Travel journal, 1883-1885," houses one journal maintained by Bascom during her journey from Madison, Wisconsin to the Dakota Territory around 1883-1885. The journal contains a bibliography; her impressions and experiences with the Native Americans; and general observation and commentary. No mention is made of geological formations. The most robust part of the collection comprises the fourth series, "United States Geological Survey, 1898-1938." A majority of the papers found here pertain specifically to Bascom's field work conducted under the auspices of the USGS. There are field notebooks, which record measurements and general observations made during her various expeditions; petrographic data; photographs of sites visited; and topographical maps - all of which pertain to more-or-less the same geographic regions. A number of the files containing pertrographic data and photographs allude to their inclusion in some unidentified publication. The last series, "Dorothy Wyckoff papers, 1934-1936" dates from 1934 to 1936 is predominantly laboratory analytical notes regarding the USGS survey of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Correspondence is between Wyckoff and Howard Meyerhoff.
Florence Bascom was a pioneer for women in the geological field, as the second American woman to earn her PhD in geology and the first hired by the United States Geological Survey. As a professor at Bryn Mawr College, she was responsible for developing the geology major. This collection would be of use to any researcher interested in Bascom’s career as a geologist, particularly in her years working for the USGS.