Bulletin No. 48. Frederick William Sardeson, Geologist 1866-1958

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Bulletin No. 48. Frederick William Sardeson, Geologist 1866-1958

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Minnesota Geological Survey




Frederick W. Sardeson was a highly capable, innovative, productive, and fascinating figure in geology, yet he never enjoyed admiration from most of his contemporaries or lasting distinction in his chosen field. Cut adrift from his teaching post in middle age, he had to live by nip and tuck thereafter. Nevertheless, his legacy of published geology is of interest still to students of the Lower Paleozoic rocks and fossils of the Upper Mississippi Valley, and to students of Ordovician fossils from several phyla. This report attempts to explain something of Sardeson's qualities and behavior, to give balance to the record of his professional accomplishments, and to throw some light on the practice of geology in the half century prior to World War II. How is it that one undertakes to study and report on such a person in detail? As a graduate student in geology at the University of Minnesota in 1949, I was assigned by W. Charles Bell to prepare a brief account of Sardeson and his contributions to the science of geology. Bell turned me on to Sardeson to help me prepare for my dissertation work on the lithoand biostratigraphy of the Middle Ordovician rocks of Fillmore County in southeastern Minnesota. Charlie Bell had told his students stories from his short acquaintance with Sardeson (1946-47), between Bell's arrival in Minneapolis and Sardeson's departure for Seattle, and I was able to recall those accounts. In addition, in 1949, I interviewed several persons who had known Sardeson. Among those were Frank F. Grout, recently retired from the Department of Geology and, as I now know, a major antagonist of Sardeson early in this century; plant ecologist William S. Cooper, who skirmished with Sardeson over the Anoka sandplain; and Frederick K. Butters, also of the Botany Department. Some biographical information came from the Minnesota Alumni office, and the President's office gave some details of his dismissal from the University. For the early orientation to Sardeson's work I also consulted some of his published works and the standard reference volumes.


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Weiss, Malcolm P.. (2000). Bulletin No. 48. Frederick William Sardeson, Geologist 1866-1958. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/57075.

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