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William John McGee
WilliamJohnMcGee 1900 Smithsonian02861200.jpg
Washington, D.C. (1900)
Born (1853-04-17)April 17, 1853
Farley, Dubuque, Iowa, United States
Died September 4, 1912(1912-09-04) (aged 59)
Nationality American
Fields Geology, anthropology, and ethnology
Spouse Anita Newcomb McGee

William John McGee, LL.D. (April 17, 1853 – September 4, 1912) was an American inventor, geologist, anthropologist, and ethnologist, born in Farley, Iowa.[1]


McGee was self-educated, devoting his early years to reading law and to surveying.[2] He invented and patented several improvements on agricultural implements.[2]

He subsequently turned his attention to geology.[2] In 1877–1881, he executed a topographic and geological survey of 17,000 square miles (44,030 km²) in northeastern Iowa.[3][4][5] He then undertook an examination of the loess of the Mississippi Valley, researched the great quaternary lakes of Nevada and California and studied a recent fault movement in the middle Atlantic slope.[2]

He was appointed geologist for the United States Geological Survey (USGS) in 1881. In 1884 McGee authored the article Map of the United States exhibiting the present status of knowledge relating to the areal distribution of geologic groups for the USGS Journal.[6] While with the USGS, McGee travelled to Charleston, South Carolina, in 1886 for the purpose of studying the earthquake disturbances in its vicinity.

McGee was ethnologist in charge of the Bureau of American Ethnology from 1893 to 1903. In 1895, he explored the Isla del Tiburón, Gulf of California, home of the Seri Indians.[7] In 1904 he was chief of the department of anthropology that organized the "Anthropology Days" at the 1904 Summer Olympics / Louisiana Purchase Exposition, the 1904 World's Fair,[8] and in 1907 he was appointed a member of the Inland Waterways Commission by President Roosevelt.[9] His other prominent positions were: acting president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1897–1898); president of the American Anthropological Association (1902–1912); and president of the National Geographic Society (1904–1905).


His publications include:

  • The Pleistocene History of Northeastern Iowa (1889)
  • The Geology of Chesapeake Bay (1888)
  • The Siouan Indians (1895)
  • Primitive Trephining (1897)
  • The Seri Indians (1899)
  • Primitive Numbers (1901)
  • Soil Erosion (1911)
  • Wells and Subsoil Water (1913)


  1. ^ "BIOGRAPHIES OF GEOLOGISTS" (PDF). Ohio State University Libraries. Retrieved 2011-06-25. 
  2. ^ a b c d Wikisource-logo.svg Wilson, James Grant; Fiske, John, eds. (1900). "McGee, W J". Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton. 
  3. ^ McGee, W.J. and Call, R.E. 1882. “On the löss and associated deposits of Des Moines, Iowa.” The American Journal of Science, 3rd Series, Whole no. 124, 24(141):202-223.
  4. ^ McGee, W.J. 1884. “The drainage system and the distribution of loess of Eastern Iowa.” Bulletin of the Philosophical Society of Washington 6:93-97.
  5. ^ McGee, W.J. 1891. “The Pleistocene history of northeastern Iowa.” In: Powell, J.W. (ed), Eleventh Annual Report of the Director of the United States Geological Survey, Part 1: 1889-1890, pp. 199-577.
  6. ^ "Map of the United States exhibiting the present status of knowledge relating to the areal distribution of geologic groups". U.S. Geological Survey Annual report 5: 34–41. 1884. 
  7. ^ McGee, W.J. and Johnson, W.D. 1896. Seriland. The National Geographic Magazine 7(4):125-133.
  8. ^ Nate DiMeo, Olympic-Sized Racism, Slate.com
  9. ^ Donald J. Pisani, Water Planning in the Progressive Era: The Inland Waterways Commission Reconsidered, Journal of Policy History 18.4 (2006) pp.389-418

External links[edit]

Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
Alexander Graham Bell
President of the National Geographic Society
Succeeded by

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

The Guardian

The Guardian
Tue, 02 Jun 2015 21:59:27 -0700

William John McGee – the president of the newly formed American Anthropological Association, who had been hired to head the fair's ethnology department – issued a call for African “pygmies”, who were believed to represent the lowest rung on the ...
Mon, 18 Jan 2016 05:18:45 -0800

1906年9月10日,星期一早晨,一群黑人牧师被紧急召集到哈林区的橄榄山浸礼会,召开一场临时会议,会上群情激奋。一天前,《纽约时报》报道了一位被称为“小矮人”的年轻非洲男子,被关在纽约城最大动物园的猴子笼中供游人参 ...
Tue, 11 Mar 2014 01:17:32 -0700

Under the instruction of William John McGee, Werner was obliged to take six Pygmy people back to America with him to show at the St Louis World Fair, 1904. A crude shopping list had been written for Werner; “1 Chief, 1 adult woman (preferably the chief ...


Sun, 19 Jan 2014 20:11:00 -0800

Samuel Philips Verner, exploratorul trimis de William John McGee în Africa, povesteşte în cadrul unui documentar că antropologul american i-a dat o listă clară cu tipurile de indigeni pe care îi doreşte: „un şef al pigmeilor, o femeie adultă, de ...

Último Segundo - iG

Último Segundo - iG
Tue, 17 Jul 2012 07:30:36 -0700

Para os experimentos, Sullivan trabalhou em parceria com o diretor de Antropologia da Feira, William John McGee. "O que para mim é interessante é que aqueles dois homens pensaram as Jornadas Antropológicas com seriedade", disse à BBC Brasil a ...

Thể thao văn hóa

Thể thao văn hóa
Mon, 08 Apr 2013 19:49:07 -0700

nhà truyền giáo Samuel Phillips Verner tưng bừng báo tin trong thư viết ngày 30/3/1904 gửi cho William John McGee. Là một nhà khoa học, McGee vui mừng đón nhận “hiện vật“ quan trọng nhất cho phòng trưng bày kết quả nghiên cứu nhân chủng học tại ...

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