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William C. Bowie Scrapbooks

Identifier: SC MS 0364

Scope and Contents

Containing 4 scrapbooks, this collection is an assortment of correspondence, newspaper articles, formal invitations and a few black and white photographs documenting highlights of the professional activities of William C. Bowie, American Geodetic Engineer, Chief of U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey. Highlighted items of particular interest are letters of Lehigh University personalities: Henry S. Drinker, Eric Doolittle, Frank DuFour, Mansfield Merriman, Benjamin L. Miller, Charles R. Richards, C. C. Williams, as well as others such as Robert Bartlett and Frithof Nansen, arctic explorers, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, U.S. President and Ulysses S. Grant III, grandson of President U.S. Grant.


  • Creation: 1889-1929


Access Restrictions

Access Restrictions: Collection housed remotely. Users need to contact 24 hours in advance.

Use Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Copyright Notice

Please inquire about copyright information.

Biographical / Historical

William Bowie (1872-1940), American geodetic engineer, born in Maryland to Thomas John and Susanna Anderson Bowie whose ancestor was James Bowie, hero of the Battle of the Alamo. He attended St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD, got a BS in 1893 from Trinity College, Hartford, CT and a MA in 1907 and ScD 1919, attended Lehigh and earned a MS in civil engineering in 1895 and the ScD in 1922 also was an occasional lecturer on Geodesy Isostasy from 1923-1937 at Lehigh. He received an honorary LL.D in 1936 from University of Edinburgh, Scotland, a ScD in 1937 from George Washington University. In 1895 entered the U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey eventually became its chief. During World War I served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with the rank of Major. Subsequently he represented the United States at various international geodetic conferences and congresses, did scientific research in the theory of isostasy and its application to dynamic and structural geology. He was the first president of the American Geophysical Union from 1920-22 and the second time served as president 1929-1932, International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics 1933-1936. He received the Prix Charles Lagrange in 1932 from the Academie Royale des Sciences, des Lettres et des Beaux-Arts de Belgique and the Elliott Cresson Medal in 1937 from the Franklin Institute. In 1899 he married Elizabeth Taylor Wattles and they had two sons. Two undersea features are named for him: the Bowie Seamount and Bowie Canyon; the William Bowie Medal, the highest honor of the American Geophysical Union, is named for him and the survey ship USC & GS Bowie (CSS27) in commission from 1946-1967. He retired from government service in 1936 and died in Washington, D.C. in 1940. He is best known for promoting the mapping of the United States, its territories, improvement of cartographic methods and techniques, progress of physical sciences.


2.5 Linear Feet (1 record box, 1 flat box) : 4 scrapbooks and 1 manuscript

Language of Materials



Four scrapbooks containing miscellaneous newspaper clippings, correspondence. Each volume individually indexed. The materials in the scrapbooks are not arranged chronologically throughout: Vol. 1 1891-1937; Vol 2 1919-1937; Vol. 3 1916-1937, Vol. 4 1889-1939. William C. Bowie's career in scientific research in the theory of isostasy and its application to dynamics and structural geology is reflected in these scrapbooks.


The materials are arranged somehow chronological but mostly randomly within each scrapbook.

Acquisition Information

Unknown. Library accession stamp: August 30, 1971.

Related Materials and Associated Titles

1895. Bowie, William. The Turbine as a water meter. MS thesis. B786t

1911. Bowie, William. Geodesy: Primary base lines at Stanton, Texas and Deming, New Mexico. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office U58g

1912. Bowie, William. Geodesy: The Texas-California arc of primary triangulation. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office L786g

1912-1937. Bowie, William. Publications (15 items) L B786pu

1914-1935. Bowie, William. Pamphlets and bibliography (47 items) L B786

1917. Bowie, William. Investigations of gravity and isostasy. Washington, D.C. U.S. Government Printing Office L B786inv

1927. Bowie, William. Isostasy. NY: P.P. Dutton & Company. L B786i

1939. Bowie, William. The Layman with the Geologist Washington, D.C. 1939, manuscript.

William C. Bowie Scrapbooks
Eleanor Nothelfer.
Description rules
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Lehigh University Library and Technology Services.

Repository Details

Part of the Lehigh University Special Collections Repository

Lehigh University
Linderman Library
30 Library Drive
Bethlehem PA 18045 USA
610-758-6091 (Fax)