The USGS in the Early 1900s - Reminiscences of D. Foster Hewett, Adolph Knoph, and Frank C. Calkins

By D. Foster Hewett, Adolph Knopf, and Frank C. Calkins

Open-File Report 97-267
Version 1.0

U.S. Department of the Interior
Bruce Babbitt, Secretary

U.S. Geological Survey
Gordon P. Eaton, Director

This report is preliminary and has not been reviewed for conformity with U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) editorial standards or with the North American Stratigraphic Code. Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.


In December, 1962, 81-year-old Donnel Foster Hewett hosted a dinner party for what was then the “younger crop”of U.S. Geological Survey geologists in Menlo Park, California. His aim was to give them the benefit of some collective wisdom about what life in the Survey was like in the “good old days,” with particular attention paid to the personalities of some of the men who had played prominent roles in the Survey's development. To this end he recruited two other Survey old-timers: Adolph Knopf (80), a Visiting Professor at nearby Stanford University, and Frank Calkins (84), a USGS Annuitant in the Menlo Park headquarters. Following a convivial dinner, these three distinguished gentlemen delivered their remarks to an appreciative and responsive audience. In an act of great foresight, someone, perhaps Hewett himself, had arranged to have the proceedings tape-recorded. Walden P. Pratt, of the USGS in Denver, Colo., obtained a copy of the tape and transcribed it.

Formal cepia-tone head-and-sholuders portrait in oval frame Formal cepia-tone head-and-sholuders portrait in oval frame Formal cepia-tone head-and-sholuders portrait in oval frame

D. Foster Hewett (1901), Adolph Knopf (1906), and Frank C. Calkins (1901) (click on photos for larger versions). Photographs from U.S. Geological Survey photograph library: Hewett, Portrait 3555; Knopf, Portrait 723; Calkins, Portrait 953


This online publication includes the content of all three of the previously published USGS Open-File Reports on these lectures: OF97-267-A (1997), OF97-267-B (1997), and OF97-267-C (1998) as well as an update to OF97-267-A. This Web site presents both the audio tracks as MP3s and the transcription as a PDF. Total running time for the three speeches is about an hour and 45 minutes. Appended to the speeches in the transcription are an introductory paragraph and brief biographical notes.

Listen to the Audio

These audio files were produced by digitizing the 7-inch open-reel tape that was recorded in 1962. An analog version of the recorded lectures was released on audio-cassette tape as USGS Open-File Report 97-267-B (1997). The digitized versions of the presentations were published as a set of two digital-audio compact discs (CDs) as USGS Open-File Report 97-267-C (1998). The audio files were later converted to four MP3 files, originally intended for Napster and now presented here. MP3 stands for "MPEG audio layer 3" which is a data-compression routine. MPEG is an acronym for Moving Pictures Experts Group.

To play the MP3 files, you will need either an MP3 plug-in in your browser such as QuickTime or Windows Media Player. You can also download the files to your hard disk and play them with these applications. You can also export them to a portable MP3 player.

Introduction by Walden P. Pratt (1_pratt.mp3; 0:17 - 40 KB)
D. Foster Hewett (2_hewett.mp3; 41:45 - 4.7 MB)
Adolph Knopf (3_knopf.mp3; 16:29 - 1.8 MB)
Frank C. Calkins (4_calkins.mp3; 47:11 - 5.3 MB)

Read the Transcript

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The transcript is a Portable Document Format (PDF) file for which you will need Adobe Reader or similar software to view. You can download a copy of the latest version at no cost by clicking the button above.

Transcript of the lectures: - This file consists of the text from USGS Open-File Report 97-267-A (1997) but in a modern page layout (of97-267a.pdf; 18 pages - 144 KB).

Version History

See the version history (version_history.txt) which gives dates and nature of the different releases and changes to this report.

Photograph of six geologists gathered in the desert
Foster Hewett and several others taken somewhere in the Mojave Desert in Dec. 1954, when he was 73. Background, L to R: George I. Smith, Donald R. Kupfer, and James F. McAllister. Foreground, L to R: Ward C. Smith and D. Foster Hewett. Photograph by Wally Pratt (click on photo for larger version).

ISBN for the audio-CD version of this report, USGS Open-File Report 97-267-C (1998):


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