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Burgess, George Kimball (04 January 1874–02 July 1932), physicist and director of the National Bureau of Standards, was born in Newton, Massachusetts, the son of Charles A. Burgess and Addie Louise Kimball. Burgess attended the public schools of Newton, graduating from Newton High School in 1892, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), graduating in 1896 with a B.S. degree in physics. He remained at MIT for two additional years as an assistant instructor in physics and won an MIT traveling fellowship to do graduate study abroad. He chose the Sorbonne, a choice that had two major consequences for him. First, as a student of physics there (1898–1900) he came to know such leading French scientists as Henri Le Chatelier, Gabriel Lippmann, and Henri Poincaré. During his two years in Paris, Burgess completed his course work, performed high-temperature measurements, and translated Le Chatelier’s book on temperature measurement into English. After spending the academic year 1900–1901 as an instructor in physics at the University of Michigan, Burgess returned to Paris to defend his doctoral thesis, a redetermination of the gravitational constant by means of a redesigned torsion balance. The second major consequence of his Paris sojourn was that he met Suzanne Babut, whom he married in 1901; they had no children....

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Hugh L. Dryden Courtesy of NASA (DRFC E-4248).

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Dryden, Hugh Latimer (02 July 1898–02 December 1965), physicist, was born in Pocomoke City, Maryland, the son of Samuel Isaac Dryden, a schoolteacher, and Zenovia Hill Culver. In 1907 the practicing Methodist family moved to Baltimore City, where Dryden’s father worked as a streetcar conductor for the rest of his life. In 1910 young Dryden saw an airplane for the first time, and, in his recollection, this prompted him to focus his life on aeronautics. He attended the Johns Hopkins University, receiving his B.A. with honors in 1916 and his M.A. in physics two years later....

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Ewbank, Thomas (11 March 1792–16 September 1870), commissioner of patents, inventor, and historian of technology, was born in Durham, England. Little is known of Ewbank’s parentage or early life. He was apprenticed to a “Tin and Coppersmith, Plumb and Shot Maker” for seven years, and in 1812 he made his way to London, where he joined several literary associations sympathetic to the English liberal reformers of the period. In 1819 Ewbank emigrated to the United States, and in 1826, his wife, Mary, and the first of their six children followed, joining him in New York. There he began his professional career as an inventor and manufacturer of tin and copper tubing, occupying the late ...

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Gabrielson, Ira Noel (27 September 1889–07 September 1977), wildlife biologist and first director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, was born in Sioux Rapids, Iowa, the son of Frank August Gabrielson, a partner in a hardware store and later a farmer, and Ida Jansen. During a boyhood spent hunting, fishing, and exploring the countryside, Gabrielson developed a love of nature, photographed and studied birds, and became particularly interested in waterfowl. He graduated from Morningside College, Sioux City, Iowa, with a B.A. in biology in 1912 and spent the next three years teaching high school biology in Marshalltown, Iowa. Just as he was about to enter the University of Iowa on a graduate fellowship, he was offered and accepted a position he had coveted with the Bureau of Biological Survey....

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Haworth, Leland John (11 July 1904–05 March 1979), physicist, administrator, and government official, was born in Flint, Michigan, the son of Paul Leland Haworth and Martha Ackerman. He grew up on a large fruit farm in West Newton, Indiana, near Indianapolis, where his father was a professor of history at both Indiana University and Butler University. In 1921 Haworth graduated from West Newton High School, where he played on the baseball team....

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Henry W. Henshaw Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-98679).

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Henshaw, Henry Wetherbee (03 March 1850–01 August 1930), ornithologist, ethnologist, and government official, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of William Henshaw and Sarah Holden Wetherbee. His interest in natural history was demonstrated from early childhood, and he began focusing has attention on birds. He completed his primary and secondary education in the local public schools, but poor health compelled him to defer plans to take the entrance examination at Harvard in 1869. While in high school, Henshaw met ...

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Jackson, Hartley Harrad Thompson (19 May 1881–20 September 1976), mammalogist and government official, was born in Milton, Wisconsin, the son of Harrad Jackson and Mary Thompson, English immigrants who settled in that state, and the only one of their eight children who was born in the United States. Educated in the local schools, he developed an interest in birds and later in mammals, the latter of which would become the focus of his lifelong research. He soon began a personal collection of study skins. At the age of fourteen he met Ludwig Kumlien, a prominent Wisconsin naturalist and Arctic explorer, who gave Jackson useful guidance in his natural history pursuits. His first article, on screech owls, was published in ...

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Clarence King. From U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1050. Courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey.

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King, Clarence Rivers (06 January 1842–24 December 1901), geologist and first director of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), geologist and first director of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), was born in Newport, Rhode Island, the son of James Rivers King, a China trader, and Caroline Florence Little. The King family enjoyed comfortable circumstances until the bankruptcy of King & Company in 1857, after which Mrs. King, her husband having died in Amoy, China, in 1848, solved her financial problem through marriage to George S. Howland, the owner of a white lead factory in Brooklyn, New York....

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Lewis, George William (10 March 1882–12 July 1948), aviation pioneer, was born in Ithaca, New York, the son of William Henry Lewis and Edith Sweetland, merchants. During his early childhood his family moved to Scranton, Pennsylvania, and there he received his elementary and high school education. In 1908 he married Myrtle Harvey; the couple had six children. Also in 1908 he graduated from the Sibley College of Engineering; he received the degree of M.E. from Cornell University in 1908 and the degree of Master Mechanical Engineer (M.M.E.) in 1910. He was a faculty member of the Department of Mathematics at Swarthmore College from 1910 until 1917 and then became engineer in charge at Clarke-Thompson Research, Philadelphia, where he remained until 1919....

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George Lewis. Courtesy of NASA (LISAR EL-1997-00143).

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MacDonald, Thomas Harris (23 July 1881–07 April 1957), highway engineer and public official, was born in Leadville, Colorado, the son of John MacDonald, a grain and lumber merchant, and Elizabeth Harris. The family soon moved to Montezuma, Iowa, where MacDonald attended public schools and the Iowa State Teachers College in 1899 before entering Iowa State College of Agricultural and Mechanic Arts, from which he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1904. MacDonald married Elizabeth Dunham of Ames, Iowa, in 1907, and the couple had two children before her death in 1935....

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Elwood Mead Seated second from right, 1924. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-110612).

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Mead, Elwood (16 January 1858–26 January 1936), U.S. Commissioner of Reclamation, was born near Patriot, Indiana, the son of David B. Mead, a farmer, and Lucinda Davis. Mead spent his early years studying in a one-room schoolhouse, doing chores on his father’s farm, and enjoying “long summer days playing in the groves of ash, oak, wild cherry, hickory, poplar, and walnut trees along the slopes of the Ohio River.” In this idyllic, mid-nineteenth-century setting he came to value the benefits of rural community life even as he broadened his horizons in his grandfather’s library, reputed to be the largest personal one in southern Indiana....

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Walter Curran Mendenhall. From U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1050. Courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey.

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Mendenhall, Walter Curran (20 February 1871–02 June 1957), geologist and federal administrator, was born in Marlboro, Stark County, Ohio, the son of William King Mendenhall, a farmer, and Emma Pierce Garrigues, a schoolteacher; both parents were Quakers. Mendenhall lived with his maternal uncle’s family while attending high school in Portland, Oregon. Returning to Ohio, Mendenhall taught at a local school and then entered Ohio Normal (now Ohio Northern) University in Ada. While an undergraduate, he spent his summer months as a teamster-laborer (1892) and a geologic assistant (1894) with a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) field party led by geologist Marius R. Campbell, a family friend and neighbor. After completing a B.Sc. degree in 1895, Mendenhall rejoined Campbell’s team to continue areal mapping and detailed studies of Appalachian coal fields. From 1895 to 1898 Mendenhall, promoted to assistant geologist in 1896, aided Campbell and his other geologists in mapping parts of Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia for the folio ...

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C. Hart Merriam Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-98680).

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Merriam, Clinton Hart (05 December 1855–19 March 1942), zoologist and government official, was born in New York City, the son of Clinton Levi Merriam, a businessman, banker, and two-term Republican U.S. congressman, and Caroline Hart. A younger sister, Florence ( Florence Augusta Merriam Bailey...