Powell, John Wesley, 1834-1902

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1834-03-24
Death 1902-09-23
Americans
English

Biographical notes:

Wallace Earle Stegner is an author.

From the guide to the Papers, 1868-1879, relating to John Wesley Powell and the Colorado River, 1868-1879, (American Philosophical Society)

John Wesley Powell was a geologist, ethnologist, and director of the United States Geological Survey; he was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 1889.

From the guide to the John Wesley Powell correspondence, 1869-1879, of the Powell Survey, 1869-1879, (American Philosophical Society)

Union Army major; explorer of the Grand Canyon; director of the U.D. Department of Ethnology and the U.S. Geological Survey; author of several books including "Exploration of the Colorado River."

From the description of John Wesley Powell letters, 1890, 1894. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 70918666

John Wesley Powell was a geologist, ethnologist, and director of the United States Geological Survey. He was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 1889.

From the description of Correspondence, 1869-1879, of the Powell Survey. (American Philosophical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 122440435

From the description of Correspondence and diary, 1871-1907. (American Philosophical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 122624397

From the guide to the John Wesley Powell correspondence and diary, 1871-1907, 1871-1907, (American Philosophical Society)

John Wesley Powell, the first director of the Smithsonian Institution's Bureau of Ethnology (1879-1902), was professor of natural sciences at Illinois Wesleyan University from approximately 1865-1868. He was also appointed curator of the Illinois Natural History Society Museum, housed at Illinois State Normal University, where he became professor of geology in 1867. He remained in this latter capacity until 1872 when he departed the Illinois region to concentrate his efforts on further explorations of the West.

From the description of John Wesley Powell Collection. (Illinois Wesleyan University). WorldCat record id: 489265327

Powell, John Wesley (1834-1902), American ethnologist, geologist, explorer, and government administrator, known for his work as the first major classifier of Native American languages, as well as for his pioneering work as a geographical and geological surveyor of the Rocky Mountains.

From the description of John Wesley Powell Memorial Monument collection, 1911-1914. (Nogales-Santa Cruz County Public Library). WorldCat record id: 56020964

Powell was a surveyor and geologist.

From the description of Powell, John Wesley, 1834-1902 (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration). naId: 10582566

John Wesley Powell (1834-1902) was a civil war veteran, botanist, geologist, and sociologist. He was born in Mount Morris, New York. He attended Wheaton and Oberlin College, though did not earn a degree from either. Powell joined the Union Army in 1861, and would eventually lose his right arm at the elbow at the Battle of Shiloh. Despite the injury, he continued to serve, and was promoted to major. In 1867, he led a small team of mountain men down the Colorado River and through the Grand Canyon for the first time in history. In 1870, Congress officially established a Geographical and Geological Survey of the Rocky Mountains region with Powell in charge. This momentous event was just the beginning of Powell’s life as a surveyor. He became the second Director of the U.S. Geological Survey in 1881, and he continued leading surveys until 1894. In addition, Powell helped establish the National Geographic Society and the Geological Society of America, and served as president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Smithsonian Institution Archives Field Book Project: Person : Description : rid_751_pid_EACP748

John Wesley Powell was born in New York in 1834. He studied natural history at Oberlin and Wheaton colleges. He lost his right arm at the Battle of Shiloh in 1862 during the American Civil War. After the war he was a professor in Illinois. In 1867 he explored the Grand Canyon and Colorado River Basin. Powell was appointed Director of the Bureau of American Ethnology in 1879 and the U.S. Geological Survey in 1880. Powell published articles and reports on geography, geology, irrigation, ethnology, and his various surveys of the American West. He died in 1902.

From the description of Correspondence of John Wesley Powell, 1876-1902. (Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens). WorldCat record id: 79457987

Powell, John Wesley (1834-1902), American ethnologist, geologist, explorer, and government administrator, known for his work as the first major classifier of Native American languages, as well as for his pioneering work as a geographical and geological surveyor of the Rocky Mountains.

Powell was born on March 24, 1834, at Mount Morris, New York. When his family moved to Illinois, he made long solo voyages on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and became intensely interested in nature. After study at Oberlin and Wheaton colleges and service in the Union army during the American Civil War, he became a geology professor at Illinois Wesleyan College in 1865, and later he lectured at Illinois Normal University. In 1867 and 1868 he led geological expeditions into Colorado and Utah. The next year, with government backing, he explored and made a geological survey of the Green and Colorado river canyons. Between 1870 and 1879 he continued his survey of the Rocky Mountain region.

During Powell's travels he studied the Native Americans he encountered, and in 1879 he was appointed the first director of the U.S. Bureau of Ethnology. He also served (1881-92) as head of the U.S. Geological Survey, which under his direction became a highly effective organization. In 1891 he published the first complete classification and distribution map of the 58 language stocks of the Native Americans of the United States and Canada. He died in Haven, Maine, September 23, 1902.

Many monuments have been erected to Powell, but the most well known and documented in this collection is on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon . On a promontory 5000 feet above the waters of the Colorado River stands a monument of native undressed rock. On it is a bronze tablet dedicated May 20, 1918, which bears a portrait of Powell and is inscribed with the names of his exploring party. The tablet reads: "Erected by the Congress of the United States to -Maj. John Wesley Powell, first explorer of the Colorado River, who descended the river with his partly in row boats, traversing the gorge beneath this point, August 17, 1869, and again September 1, 1872."

From the guide to the John W. Powell Memorial Monument Collection, 1911-1914, (Cline Library. Special Collections and Archives Department.)

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Occupations:

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Places:

  • Colorado River (Colo.-Mexico) (as recorded)
  • West (U.S.) (as recorded)
  • West (U.S.) (as recorded)
  • Utah (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Colorado River (Colo.-Mexico) (as recorded)
  • Colorado River (Colo.-Mexico) (as recorded)
  • Green River (Wyo.-Utah) (as recorded)
  • West (U.S.) (as recorded)
  • Grand Canyon (Ariz.) (as recorded)
  • Grand Canyon (Ariz.) (as recorded)
  • West (U.S.) (as recorded)
  • Arizona--Grand Canyon (as recorded)
  • Illinois (as recorded)