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James Geikie
The Man and The Geologist by Marion I Newbiggin and J S Flett (1917)

Prof. James Geikie, LL.D., D.C.L., F.R.S.


This biography of Prof. James Geikie is based upon his own letters, papers, and diaries, and upon information supplied by many of those who were closely associated with him, both during his earlier days on the Geological Survey and the later in Edinburgh. Much of the material was sorted and arranged by Mrs Geikie before it was placed in my hands, and to her I am indebted for many notes, memoranda, and verbal statements which supplemented the documents supplied. Mrs Geikie had herself composed, for the use of the family, a brief account of her husband's early days, and on this manuscript the first chapter is largely based; without its aid the composition of that chapter would have been very difficult.

For later years I am under great obligations to Prof. Geikie's many friends and correspondents, at home and abroad. Correspondents across the seas, especially, deserve warm thanks for their willingness to trust valuable original documents to the post, at a time when the phrase "perils of the sea" had taken on a new meaning. It is satisfactory to be able to state that in no case was such material lost as a result of hostile action. Prof. Stevenson of New York and Prof. Chamberlin of Chicago must be specially mentioned as having supplied much material. It should perhaps be added that the circumstances under which the book was written, made it impossible to obtain letters or information from many continental geologists, who, in happier times, would doubtless have been glad to render assistance.

A large amount of material was also kindly supplied by geologists and others in this country. Among those who have taken a keen interest in the progress of the work, and have rendered notable assistance, mention may be made of the following friends and correspondents of Prof. Geikie:—Dr John Home, who supplied many letters and much detailed information—to his kindly and unfailing help this memoir of his old friend owes much; Dr Peach, whose accounts of early days on the Survey were most helpful; Mr Lionel Hinxman, Mr H. M. Cadell, and many others, to whom application was made in regard to matters of detail. Among the last mention may be made of Dr W. B. Blaikie of Messrs T. & A. Constable, Mr T. S. Muir of the Royal High School, and Mr John Grossart. To all who have rendered assistance I desire to offer most cordial thanks, and trust that they and others will feel that the biographical sketch, in however imperfect a fashion, does present a lifelike picture of one who rarely failed to inspire affection and admiration in those who came to close quarters with him.

Marion I. Newbigin.
Edinburgh, October 1917.


Part I.—Life and Letters

Chapter I. Boyhood and Youth, 1839-61
Chapter II. First Years on the Geological Survey, 1862-64
Chapter III. "The Great Ice Age": (1) Years of Preparation, 1865-71
Chapter IV. "The Great Ice Age": (2) Publication, 1872-74
Chapter V.
Marriage and Life at Perth, 1875-77
Chapter VI. Last Years on the Survey, 1878-82
Chapter VII. Edinburgh and the Professorship, 1882-88
Chapter VIII. Final Edition of "The Great Ice Age," 1889-1903
Chapter IX. Retirement from the Professorship and Last Days, 1904-15

Part II.—Geological Work

Chapter X. The Glacial Problem before James Geikie
Chapter XI. "The Great Ice Age "and "Prehistoric Europe"
Chapter XII. Educational and Administrative Work
Chapter XIII. Interglacial Controversies
List of Publications

Report on the Recent Work of the Geological Survey in the North-West Highlands of Scotland
Communicated by A. Geikie, LL.D., F.R.S., Director-General (pdf)

Old Scottish Volcanoes
Professor James Geikie LL.D., D.C.L., F.R.S. (1907) (pdf)

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