2007 GSA Denver Annual Meeting (28–31 October 2007)

Paper No. 11
Presentation Time: 11:15 AM


WYSE JACKSON, Patrick N., Department of Geology, Trinity College, Dublin, 2, Ireland, wysjcknp@tcd.ie

In 1851 Thomas Oldham left Dublin with his wife to take up an appointment as Superintendent of the Geological Survey of India. He subsequently employed a number of Irish geologists for service in India in doing so began a long tradition of Irish involvement in the unravelling and understanding of its geological history. At much the same time the railway network was being developed and some routes were laid out by Irish engineers. A number of these men graduated from Trinity College, Dublin which in the 1850s had developed a school for the training of professionals for the service of the Indian Civil Service. Two Trinity College, Dublin graduates of this period arrived in India from very different routes, but once in the sub-Continent became firm friends.

Charles Æmilius Oldham was appointed to the Indian Survey in 1856 and rose to the rank of Deputy-Superintendent. He served in the Madras Presidency with two colleagues Bruce Foote and his fellow Irishman William King, the son of the Professor of Geology at the Queen's College, Galway. Between 1857 and 1867 they mapped an area twice the size of Wales. Oldham also found time to lecture in geology at the Engineering College in Madras. Thomas Harding Going was a railway engineer who worked first in Pennsylvania and Arkansas, before taking up a position with the Madras Railway Company in 1857. Going surveyed and later constructed the Madras [Chennai] to Raichore [Raichur] railway during an eighteen-year period, and overcame major difficulties caused by the difficult terrain in which he had to work. Many lives were lost to cholera and other diseases in building this railway, and occasionally the physical structure of the railway itself failed with tragic consequences.

Collective biographical studies can provide a powerful insight into the social and scientific interactions between members of scientific and professional communities, insights which may be impossible to gain if isolated studies of individuals are carried out. In this case examination of two professionals in India throws light on the close-knit nature of their community, their day-to-day activities, both professional and recreational.