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Thomas Nelson Dale papers

Identifier: MC-32

Scope and Contents

The Thomas Nelson Dale Papers consist of photographs, sketchbooks, a journal, lecture notes, various publications and other papers pertaining to the life and work of Thomas Nelson Dale. The material documents the development of Dale's interest in geology as a child, his work for the United States Geological Survey in Massachusetts, and his career teaching, lecturing, and writing on the geology of Berkshire County.


  • 1854 - 1933

Conditions Governing Access

The Thomas Nelson Dale Papers is open for research. Researchers are encouraged to contact Special Collections staff prior to a visit.

Conditions Governing Use

In consultation with Special Collections staff, reproductions may be made upon request. Please consult with staff regarding questions about publishing materials from Williams Special Collections. Materials in this collection may be subject to copyright.

Thomas Nelson Dale (1845-1937)

Biographical Chronology

born on Nov. 25 in New York City to Thomas Nelson and Sarah Patten (Monson) Dale.
Thomas Nelson Dale Sr. lives in Paris where Thomas Nelson Dale attends primary school.
studies at an independent school in Frankfurt am Main.
participates in a geological expedition, traveling throughout Scandinavia, which is lead by Dr. Karl A. Zittel. Zittel is a prominent paleontologist who will become a professor at the Karlsruhe Polytechnic and the Univ. of Munich, as well as director of the University's Paleontological Museum.
takes up residence in the U.S. and receives further education in Northampton, MA at the Williston Seminary and perhaps with private tutors.
works for his father's silk manufacturing company in Patterson, NJ.
receives mathematical instruction at Cambridge University and conducts a stratigraphic expedition in the Rhaetian Alps.
marries Margaret Brown on Dec. 22. The couple will have six children: Sarah, Norman Brown, Nelson Clark, Oswald, Margaret and Arthur.
teaches natural sciences at Drury College and Vassar College.
hired by the United States Geological Survey; stationed at Newport, RI under Professor Raphael Pumpelly.
continues to work for the U.S.G.S. with a one year break to teach in Toronto.
named geologist with the U.S.G.S. Transferred to Massachusetts and settles in Pittsfield. Gathers information on the region for the purpose of producing geological maps.
teaches geology and later botany (1897-1901) at Williams College.
retires from the U.S.G.S.
dies on November 16 in Pittsfield, MA.
Dale spent most of his childhood in Europe, where he became interested in geology. This interest led to his career with the United States Geological Survey as well as to various teaching positions. Dale gave frequent public lectures and published a number of scientific books and pamphlets. Dale also took an interest in philosophical and religious matters as some of his writings demonstrate.
Biographical information on Dale was found in Who Was Who in America 1897-1942, the National Cyclopedia of American Biography, and in the New York Times of 27 May 1880 and 17 Nov. 1937. Information on Karl Zittel was found in the New York Times of 6 Jan. 1904. The Williams College Archives contains various College records with information concerning Dales's activities while at Williams.


1 Linear Feet (2 boxes)

Language of Materials



The collection is organized into three series: I. Papers from Childhood, II. Professional Papers and III. Personal Papers.

Physical Location

Library Shelving Facility

Custodial History

William Dale originally sent these papers to Professor Reinhard A. Wobus, of the College's Geology department, who was conducting research on Thomas Nelson Dale. Upon the completion of his research in September 1993, Professor Wobus forwarded the material to the Archives. In November 2005 Professor Wobus sent Dale's autobiography that has been readied for publication and this item was added to the collection (Acc.# 2005-035).

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of William Dale (grandson of Thomas Nelson Dale).

Processing Information

Processed by Colleen Reilly (Williams 1997), January 1994. Updated by Linda Hall, November 2005.
Thomas Nelson Dale papers
Nash, Katie
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Williams College Archives & Special Collections Repository

Sawyer Library
26 Hopkins Hall Drive
Williamstown, MA 01267