GSA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA - 2018

Paper No. 200-9
Presentation Time: 3:35 PM


DRIGGERS, Edward, Department of History, Tennessee Technological University, 5 William L. Jones Drive, Box 5064, Cookeville, TN 38505

Augusta Hasslock Kemp was a geologist working at the turn of the twentieth century. Kemp was often the lone female geologist working in the field or in the classroom. Examining Kemp’s narrative is important because it contributes to an expanding and important narrative of the history of geology that highlights women’s contribution. Though Kemp was not a vocal critic of the status quo in her time, her contributions were more subtle, as her career demonstrates that women were active in geology, even when they did not have the chance to advocate for a more robust role in the academy or industry.

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth, women faced many barriers in attempting to pursue higher education. Augusta Hasslock Kemp was not only able to earn a bachelor's degree from Peabody College (which is now part of Vanderbilt University), she went on to receive a Master's degree in geology from the University of Chicago. Kemp was able to teach advanced earth science and geology classes in high schools in Tennessee and Texas, and even some college classes later on in her career. After a long career in science education in Tennessee, she moved out West to Texas, near the city of Lubbuck. She spent the last parts of her career writing about the geology of West Texas, including paleontology and stratigraphy. Kemp became an expert on ancient mollusks in Texas. Many of her articles are still cited as authoritative today.

Kemp was also able to blend creative writing pursuits with her geologic knowledge. She published a metaphysically themed collection of poems entitled Pegasus Reborn, which received acclaim from geology departments from MIT to the University of Texas. She also published children’s themed stories concerning geology. Kemp’s biography serves as a useful example of the historical contributions of female geologists.