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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]


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

McGee 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 at the 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: pages 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]

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5 news items


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 20:15:29 -0800

În Statele Unite ale Americii, antropologul american William John McGee realiza în 1904 proiectul celei mai mari şi spectaculoase expoziţii de indigeni. Acesta dorea să proiecteze în St.Louis (Missouri) o grădină imensă în care să aducă cei mai înalţi ...
BBC Mundo
Wed, 18 Jul 2012 14:41:51 -0700

Para los experimentos, Sullivan trabajó con el director de Antropología de la Feria, William John McGee. "Lo que me resulta interesante es que aquellos dos hombres pensaran en las Jornadas Antropológicas con seriedad", dijo a la BBC la profesora de ...
BBC Brasil
Tue, 17 Jul 2012 04:12:38 -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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