Southeastern Section–56th Annual Meeting (29–30 March 2007)

Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 2:20 PM


WEBB, George E., History, Tennessee Tech University, History Department Box 5064, Tennessee Tech University, Cookeville, TN 38505-0001,

The decision to hold the 1877 AAAS meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, represented an effort to establish the association as a truly national scientific organization. Because geologists had been central to the AAAS from its beginning three decades earlier, they played an important role in the Nashville meeting. Organized within Section B (Natural History), geologists presented several papers, five of which were published in the association's Proceedings. John Wesley Powell, James Hall, and T. Sterry Hunt presented papers to the section, but several members of the Nashville scientific community also contributed to the meeting in various ways. Two themes are evident in these presentations. National figures such as Powell, Hall, and Hunt discussed structural geology, often based on research conducted in the American West. Applied geology was also of interest, as indicated by the comments of Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture, Statistics and Mines James B. Killebrew on the oil deposits of the state. Killebrew's paper was one of those selected for publication in the AAAS Proceedings. An examination of geologists' activities at the 1877 AAAS meeting in Nashville provides intriguing insight concerning the role this particular science played in the immediate post-Reconstruction era in the South.