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John C. Branner
Branner 3477946151 caa383b589 o.jpg
John C. Branner
Second President of Stanford University
In office
1913 – January 1, 1916
Preceded by David Starr Jordan
Succeeded by Ray Lyman Wilbur
Personal details
Born July 4, 1850
New Market, Tennessee
Died March 1, 1922(1922-03-01) (aged 71)
Alma mater Cornell University
Profession Geologist

John Casper Branner (July 4, 1850 – March 1, 1922)[1] was an American geologist and academic who discovered bauxite in Arkansas in 1887 as State Geologist for the Geological Survey of Arkansas. He was Chair of the Departments of Botany and Geology at Indiana University and later at Stanford University. He was a member of the founding faculty at Stanford and served as the university's second president. He served as President of the Geological Society of America in 1904. He was President of the Seismological Society of America in 1911. He was an expert in Brazilian geology, among many other things.


Branner Hall, a student residence on the Stanford University campus.

Branner was born in the town of New Market, Tennessee, where his father was a merchant. In 1852, the family went to live on a farm given his father by his grandfather a mile east of Dandridge on the French Broad River. He grew up there and on an adjacent property to which the family moved in 1859. During the Civil War he was very anxious to join the Confederate army, and on two occasions left school for the purpose of enlisting. His age, however, prevented his being accepted; he was only thirteen.

In 1865, he went to school for a year at New Market and in 1867, he spent a year at Maryville College. He left that institution in 1868, and in 1869, went to Ithaca, New York, to attend Cornell University. He spent a year attending Ithaca Academy and entered Cornell in 1870, in the so-called classical course.

In 1874, without having completed his university studies, he went by way of Europe to Brazil with Charles Fred Hartt, then professor of geology at Cornell. In 1875, he was made assistant on the geological survey of Brazil and remained on that work until the survey was abolished by the government and Professor Hartt died. In 1879, he accepted a position as assistant engineer and interpreter for the São Cyriaco Gold Mining Company of Boston, and spent a year near Serro, state of Minas Geraes, in the diamond regions of Brazil. In 1881, he returned to the United States, but was sent back to South America by Thomas Edison in search of a vegetable fiber for use in his then newly invented incandescent electric lamp.

In 1882, he returned to Cornell University, completed his studies and graduated. In 1883 to 1885, he was topographic geologist of the Geological Survey of Pennsylvania in the anthracite regions; in 1885, after receiving his Ph.D. from Indiana University, he was made professor of geology at Indiana University, a position he held until 1891, though he was absent on leave for several years. In 1887, he was appointed State Geologist of the Geological Survey of Arkansas. As State Geologist, he exposed gold-mining swindles then operating in Arkansas, for which the citizens of Bear City, Arkansas, burned him in effigy, and the stock promoters tried to have him fired.[2] In 1891, he was appointed Professor and Chair of the Department of Geology at the newly opened Stanford University, recruited by his colleague from Cornell and Indiana, Stanford President David Starr Jordan. When Jordan retired as president of Stanford in 1913, Branner was elected President of the university. He retired January 1, 1916, due to an age limit established by the university and was named President Emeritus.

While at Stanford he directed the Agassiz-Branner expedition to Brazil in 1899[3] and a second similar expedition in 1907-1908. He served on government commissions studying the Panama Canal and the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. He published a grammar of the Portuguese language, based on his work in Brazil, which went to multiple editions.[1]

In 1913, he greatly contributed to genealogical research of the Shenandoah Valley by privately publishing Casper Branner of Virginia and his Descendants,[4] a 453-page work documenting the genealogy of the Branner family and in particular the descendants of his great great grandparents, Casper Branner (1729–1792) and wife Catherine (1730–1800).


A dormitory building and the Branner Earth Sciences Library at Stanford are named after him. Two of his Stanford students, United States President Herbert Hoover and his wife Lou Henry Hoover, dedicated their English translation of the medieval mining classic De re metallica to Branner.


  1. ^ a b Memorial Resolution: John Casper Branner, 1850-1922, Stanford University Academic Council, April 7, 1922
  2. ^ Dan Plazak (2006) A Hole in the Ground with a Liar at the Top, Salt Lake: University of Utah Press, pp. 122–123.
  3. ^ "BRANNER, Prof. John Casper". Who's Who 59: 206–207. 1907. 
  4. ^ John Casper Branner (1913) Casper Branner of Virginia and His Descendants, Privately Printed, Stanford University.
  5. ^ "Author Query for 'Branner'". International Plant Names Index. 

Research resources[edit]

External links[edit]

Wikisource logo Works written by or about John Casper Branner at Wikisource

Academic offices
Preceded by
David Starr Jordan
President of Stanford University
1913 – 1915
Succeeded by
Ray Lyman Wilbur

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Casper_Branner — Please support Wikipedia.
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7 news items

Stanford Report

Stanford Report
Tue, 11 Aug 2015 10:20:26 -0700

The private library of Stanford's first geology professor, John Casper Branner, was the foundation on which the Branner Earth Sciences Library & Map Collections was built. Branner, Stanford's second president, kept his collection in the Geology Corner ...
San Jose Mercury News
Thu, 04 Feb 2016 11:43:45 -0800

1913-1915 John Casper Branner 1916-1943 Ray Lyman Wilbur* 1943-1948 Donald B. Tresidder** 1949-1968 J.E. Wallace Sterling*** 1968-1970 Kenneth S. Pitzer 1970-1980 Richard W. Lyman 1980-1992 Donald Kennedy 1992-2000 Gerhard Casper
San Jose Mercury News
Thu, 04 Feb 2016 11:41:15 -0800

STANFORD'S PRESIDENTS. 1891-1913 David Starr Jordan. 1913-1915 John Casper Branner. 1916-1943 Ray Lyman Wilbur*. 1943-1948 Donald B. Tresidder**. 1949-1968 J. E. Wallace Sterling***. 1968-1970 Kenneth S. Pitzer. 1970-1980 Richard W.

Stanford Report

Stanford Report
Wed, 11 Feb 2015 09:03:45 -0800

The Earth sciences have been a part of Stanford since the founding of the university in 1891, when geologist John Casper Branner was hired as Stanford's first professor. Three years later, the first doctorate awarded by Stanford was in the Department ...

Stanford University News

Stanford University News
Fri, 10 Feb 2012 05:29:42 -0800

Matson noted that Earth sciences have a long history at Stanford, beginning in 1891, the year the university opened and hired its first professor – a geologist named John Casper Branner. "One of the traditions of the school has been change," she said.
The Stanford Daily
Wed, 16 Nov 2011 02:42:44 -0800

In 1900, 19 Japanese students, with the support of then-president John Casper Branner, formed a Japanese student association. Yet these students' experiences at Stanford were not all positive. According to Pearson, up to World War II, Asian students ...

The Marker

The Marker
Thu, 10 Apr 2014 04:10:33 -0700

דרופבוקס, המפעילה את שירות אחסון הקבצים הפופולרי בענן, הודיעה אתמול על שורה של מינויים חדשים, בהם של שרת החוץ של ארה"ב לשעבר קונדוליסה רייס, אשר תתמנה לחברה בדירקטוריון החברה. רייס, שכיהנה כיועצת לביטחון לאומי בכהונתו הראשונה של ג'ורג' וו. בוש כנשיא ארה"ב ומונתה לשרת ...

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