Skip Links

USGS - science for a changing world

Special Book

Minerals, Lands, and Geology for the Common Defence and General Welfare—Volume 4, 1939–1961

By Mary C. Rabbitt and Clifford M. Nelson

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (126 MB)Introduction

The fourth volume of the comprehensive history of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is titled “Minerals, Lands, and Geology for the Common Defence and General Welfare—Volume 4, 1939‒1961.” The title is based on a passage in the preamble of the U.S. Constitution.

The late Mary C. Rabbitt (1915‒2002), a geophysicist who served with the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey (1948‒1949) and the USGS (1949‒1978), wrote the first three volumes in this series of USGS Special Books. “Volume 1, Before 1879” (1979), “Volume 2, 1879‒1904” (1980), and “Volume 3, 1904‒1939” (1986), although long out of print and out of stock, are now available online; see links at right.

The 704-page Volume 4, supplemented by more than 200 illustrations, was begun by Rabbitt and completed by coauthor Clifford M. Nelson, a geologist with the USGS since 1976. The book is described as “A History of Geology in Relation to the Development of Public-Land, Federal Science, and Mapping Policies and the Development of Mineral Resources in the United States From the 60th to the 82d Year of the U.S. Geological Survey.” Volume 4 focuses on the United States and the USGS in war and peace from the beginning of World War II in Europe to the end of the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Like the earlier books in the series, Volume 4 places the nature and significance of USGS operations in mapping and the earth sciences in the wider contexts of national and international history. The new volume, like its three predecessors, is intended for general readers and historians alike, so it follows a chronological rather than a thematic pattern, although themes are traced throughout the book.

After preparing Volumes 1–3, Rabbitt wrote a brief report summarizing the agency's history in its first century, “The United States Geological Survey: 1879‒1989,” which was originally issued as USGS Circular 1050 in 1989. It was reissued in 2000 as part of USGS Circular 1179, which also contains Renée M. Jaussaud’s inventory of documents accessioned through 1997 into Record Group 57 (USGS) at the National Archives and Records Administration’s Archives II facility (NARA II) in College Park, Maryland.

First posted April 16, 2015

For additional information, contact:
U.S. Geological Survey
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive
Reston, VA 20192
1–888–ASK–USGS (1–888–275–8747)

Part or all of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). For best results viewing and printing PDF documents, it is recommended that you download the documents to your computer and open them with Adobe Reader. PDF documents opened from your browser may not display or print as intended. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge. More information about viewing, downloading, and printing report files can be found here.

Suggested citation:

Rabbitt, M.C., and Nelson, C.M., 2015, Minerals, lands, and geology for the common defence and general welfare—Volume 4, 1939–1961: Reston, Va., U.S. Geological Survey, 704 p.,


Front and Back Covers
(PDF, 462 KB)

Front Matter - Frontispiece, Title Page, Foreword, Preface, and Contents
(PDF, 2.21 MB)

Foreword, by Mark D. Myers, Director, USGS, 2006–2009
(PDF, 79.9 KB)

(PDF, 104 KB)

Chapter  1. Prologue: U.S. Geological Survey Mandates, 1879–1939   
(PDF, 128 MB)

Chapter  2. Pursuing Simultaneous Courses, 1939–1941
(PDF, 7.47 MB)

Chapter  3. Washington Madhouse, 1941–1943
(PDF, 15.7 MB)

Chapter  4. A Double Task, 1943–1945
(PDF, 9.46 MB)

Chapter  5. Pioneering a New Course, 1945–1947
(PDF, 12.2 MB)

Chapter  6. Replenishing the Research Capital, 1947–1950
(PDF, 17 MB)

Chapter  7. Natural Resources and National Security, 1950–1953
(PDF, 12.7 MB)

Chapter  8. Partnership in the Natural-Resources Program, 1953–1955
(PDF, 11.8 MB)

Chapter  9. The Need for More Research, 1955–1958
(PDF, 11.8MB)

Chapter 10. A New Cycle, 1958–1961
(PDF, 25.9 MB)

Chapter 11. Epilogue: The U.S. Geological Survey, 1939–1961
(PDF, 98.8 KB)

(PDF, 412 KB)

References Cited
(PDF, 295 KB)

Abbreviations and Acronyms
(PDF, 110 KB)

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information: GS Pubs Web Contact
Page Last Modified: Wednesday, 23-Nov-2016 10:40:49 EST