George Perkins Merrill

George Perkins Merrill (May 31, 1854 in Auburn, Maine – August 15, 1929 in Auburn, Maine)[1] was an American geologist, notable as the head curator from 1917 to 1929 of the Department of Geology, United States National Museum (now the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution).[2]

He was educated at the University of Maine (B.S., 1879; Ph.D., 1889), took a post-graduate courses of study and was assistant in chemistry at Wesleyan University, Connecticut (1879–1880), and subsequently studied at Johns Hopkins (1886–1887).

In 1881 he became assistant curator at the National Museum, Washington, D.C..[3] He also served as professor of geology and mineralogy at the Corcoran Scientific School of Columbian University (now George Washington University) from 1893 to 1916, and was appointed head curator of the department of geology at the National Museum in 1897. In 1922 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. He wrote many periodical contributions, especially on meteorites.

In 1897 Merrill proposed the term Regolith for the loose outer layer of Earth, the Moon, Mars, etc. covering solid rock.

Merrill was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery, Auburn, Maine. The grave marker is engraved:[1]

Search for truth is the noblest occupation of man its publication a duty

George Perkins Merrill
Born May 31, 1854
Auburn, Maine
Died August 15, 1929 (aged 75)
Auburn, Maine
Alma mater University of Maine
Scientific career
Institutions Columbian University, National Museum of Natural History


His chief publications are:

  • Stones for Building and Decoration (1891; third edition, 1903[4])
  • A Treatise on Rocks, Rock-Weathering, and Soils (1897; second edition, 1906)[5]
  • The Non-Metallic Minerals (1904; second edition, 1910)[6]
  • The Fossil Forests of Arizona] (1911); 23 pages including illustrations[7]
  • The First Hundred Years of American Geology (1924)[8]


  1. ^ a b "George Perkins Merrill". Find A Grave. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
  2. ^ "George P. Merrill". Smithsonian Institution Archives. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  3. ^ Merrill Gates (1906). "Men of mark in America; ideals of American life told in biographies of eminent living Americans (Volume 2)". p. 16.
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  8. ^ James F. Kemp (April 1925). "Review: The First Hundred Years of American Geology by George P. Merrill". The American Historical Review. 30 (3): 616–619. JSTOR 1835613.

Further reading

External links

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