Harry Fielding Reid papers
- 1894 - 1944
- Reid, Harry Fielding, 1859-1944 (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for use.
Conditions Governing Use
3.16 Cubic Feet (1 record center carton, 5 full-sized letter boxes, 1 over-sized folder)
Apart from his academic work, Reid was known for his many scientific achievements. Because of his proficiency in both physics and geology, Reid has been recognized as the first American geophysicist. His work in science fell into two main categories: the study of earthquakes and the study of glaciers. Reid's published writings between 1892 and 1907 deal exclusively with the subject of glaciers. His first glacial study was an extended survey of the Muir Glacier (Alaska) in 1890. With a team of five others, he mapped the glacier area of over 900 square miles. His research continued for several years, and his findings were published in a paper on the Glacier Bay area of Alaska in 1896. (16th Annual Report., U. S. Geological Survey). He was interested in the problems of glacial accumulation, motion, and wastage. During succeeding expeditions, he discovered and named several glaciers in Alaska including those named for Daniel Gilman and Johns Hopkins. In Switzerland where Reid also did field work, the Reid Ridges at Mont Forno are named for him.
Reid's interest in seismological studies resulted from his service as a member of the California State Earthquake Investigation Commission, a commission formed to study the San Francisco earthquake of April 18, 1906. From his research in the field, Reid developed what is termed the elastic rebound theory of earthquake. The theory, which Reid described in his 1908 report to the Commission, is regarded as his major contribution to science. In the same report, he presented his theory of the seismograph, the first complete treatment in the English language. Beginning in 1906, Reid represented the United States at the International Seismological Association for many years.
Reid was married to Edith Gittings, the daughter of Mary Elizabeth Gittings (d. 1900). Edith Gittings Reid (1863- ) was the author of biographical studies of Sir William Osler, William Sidney Thayer, and Woodrow Wilson. They were the parents of Francis Fielding Reid and Doris Fielding Reid. Harry Fielding Reid died in Baltimore, June 19, 1944.
Scope and Contents
Reid's earliest scientific interest was in the study of glaciers, and as a member of the Commission Internationale des Glaciers, he contributed many annual reports and articles on the subject. Some reports [1913-15, 1932] and correspondence with the commission (1931-1933) are part of the collection. The reports are in typescript with annotations. A small amount of correspondence with fellow scientists deals with their mutual interest in glacier research. Dr. Reid's field work included photographing the mountainous and glacial areas, and many photographs are included although not all are identified.
Of interest too are the nearly one hundred glass negatives from photographs of glacial regions (mostly Alaska) studied by Reid. Some negatives are of personal views.
Reid's holographic account of mountaineering in Europe (1894), his diplomas and awards, and many family photographs are among the personal items in the collection. Other personal items include four diaries of Mary Elizabeth Gittings (Reid's mother-in-law) who traveled in Europe, 1884-1886. Reprints of scientific articles complete the collection.
Other Finding Aids
Immediate Source of Acquisition
- California. State Earthquake Investigation Commission. The California Earthquake of April 18, 1906. Washington, D.C., Carnegie Inst. of Washington, 1908-10.
- Pettijohn, F. J. A Century of Geology at The Johns Hopkins University. Baltimore: Gateway Press, 1988.
Part of the Special Collections Repository
The Sheridan Libraries
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA