January 15, 1867-January 7, 1934

Courtesy, NAS Archives


The National Academy of Sciences memorializes its members in a series of Biographical Memoirs written by colleagues from their personal knowledge of and esteem for dear departed friends. Strangely, no Academy memorial exists in commemoration of Henry Stephens Washington, one of its most eminent members, whose name and work to this day—full fifty-five years since his death—are known and honored by geologists throughout the world. Aware of this, Dr. Elizabeth J. Sherman, editor of the Biographical Memoir series, searched for an author to write an appropriate memoir, realizing that it might be difficult, if not impossible, to find anyone now living who, besides having a vivid memory of seeing and hearing the great man, had also devoted many long hours to arduous study of his works. Yet I am one such—perhaps the only one who still remains—and so accepted the task despite the special difficulties posed by there being none whose memories I could share.

At first I did not know that so many had hastened to record, in words of moving eloquence, their admiration and even awe of a most extraordinary man. It then became clear to me that any conventional memoir of Washington belatedly written today would be untimely and incongruous. Better instead a summary, assembled from the many scattered sources, giving the known facts of his life. These I have duly listed and annotated, along with references to his many publications; the extensive citations from contemporary memorials and

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement