ABSTRACT. James Dwight Dana (1813-1895) was one of the most prolific
and influential American geologists of the nineteenth century.
He also established patterns and set precedents that contributed
to the establishment of the American geological and scientific
communities and the possibility of pursuing geology as a career.
At the same time, Dana's career was unique in several ways.
The son of a New York merchant family, Dana struggled to prove
that science could be a career for a man required to earn his
own way in the world. In a time when federal funding for science
was both controversial and relatively rare, Dana obtained a paid
position with the United States South Pacific (Wilkes's) Exploring
Expedition. This provided him with income, unparalleled experience
literally around the globe, and, in the expedition reports, a
publisher for the works that would make him a scientist of international
Dana moved from working on the Expedition reports to a specially
created professorship at Yale, where he spent the rest of his
career. His position at Yale provided an income and a teaching
load light enough for him to carry on myriad other tasks. Among
these were the editorship of the American Journal of Science,
authorship of numerous professional papers and teaching texts,
and the maintenance of a large network of correspondence. These
activities ensured his continued influence and importance in the
American scientific community and allowed him to elucidate a uniquely
American geology and defend it as the proper model for
geologists around the world.
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