History of Geology on the International Scene

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The International Committee on the History of Geology (INHIGEO), a Commission of the International Unions of Geological Sciences and of the History and Philosophy of Science, (I) at the constituent assembly at Yerevan, Armenia in 1967, and (II) at its next meeting at the 24th International Geological Congress, Montreal, Canada in 1972.

INHIGEO was inaugurated at a constituent assembly held in 1967 at Yerevan, Armenia (then in the USSR). It was formally proposed by I.I. Gorski at the 22nd International Geological Congress at New Delhi in 1964. Gorski headed the USSR National Committee of Geologists effectively governing all relationships of Soviet geologists with the rest of the world. He proposed forming a committee on the history of geology on the initiative of V.V. Tikhomirov, Convener and first President of INHIGEO. After the proposal was accepted by the nascent International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS), the Russians invited the world’s national committees on geology to send delegates to Yerevan. Gorski, who was also on the Bureau of the IUGS as Vice-President for Eastern Europe, represented official Soviet geology at Yerevan. Willem van Leckwijck of Belgium the Secretary-General of the IUGS, came to Yerevan to represent the parent organization.

Two of the three Americans at the meeting had University of New Hampshire connections. George W. White (2nd row, 2nd from the right), was elected Vice-President for the Americas. White founded the Geology Department at the University of New Hampshire but left in 1945 for the University of Illinois. Cecil J. Schneer who came to the UNH Department of Geology (now Earth Sciences) in 1950, was elected Corresponding Member, later succeeding White as United States member and Vice-President for America. Schneer was at Yerevan to formalize arrangements for the New Hampshire Interdisciplinary Conference on the History of Geology to be held that September at UNH. After returning to the United States, White was appointed to head USHIGEO (the US National Committee on the History of Geology) - a sub-committee of our National Committee - with responsibility for representing American historians of geology in international affairs. Schneer was appointed Secretary. White and Schneer then prepared the formal request from USHIGEO to the Geological Society of America that resulted in the inauguration of its History of Geology Division. As one outcome, specialized sessions on the History of Geology, that were a routine feature of International Congresses after 1968, have been a part of the programs of the annual meetings of the GSA for the last three decades.

The Officers, Members and Corresponding Members that were selected from the geologist-historians assembled at Yerevan, sent photographs to V.V. Tikhomirov the President elected at the meeting. One added note;- on the eve of the first day of the meeting, the Six Day War erupted. By then the Arab states were clients of the Soviet Union and Israel of the West.. The Turkish border was clearly in view of the delegates. Beyond it, as we all knew, American missiles with nuclear warheads were poised .

The next formal meeting of INHIGEO was scheduled for the 23rd International Geological Congress at Prague in 1968 but could not take place because of the Soviet invasion. This occurred on the eve of the first day of the Technical Sessions. Therefore, a second meeting was not held until the 24th Congress at Montreal in 1972. The second photographic assemblage was prepared again by President Tikhomirov. After he left the Presidency of the International Committee there were no further group assemblages of photographs. CJS 6/1/00

Willem Van Leckwijck (1902-1975, bottom row, 1st on left)
Vladimir V. Tikhomirov (1915-199?, 2nd row center)