GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 189-7
Presentation Time: 2:30 PM-6:30 PM


SABEL, Claire, History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104

This paper assesses the contributions of Lou Henry Hoover to the history of geology, by looking at her translation of Georgius Agricola's 1556 mining treatise De Re Metallica, completed jointly with her husband, Herbert Hoover, from 1906-1912. I demonstrate that this translation project originated in the couple's shared scientific interests, which began when they both received BAs in geology at newly-founded Stanford University in the 1890s. I use historicalevidence from Lou Henry Hoover's biography to argue that she pursued the history of geology as a means of remaining engaged with geological science when her gender and social position did not allow her to pursue geological fieldwork. Gendered discrimination also influenced the credit that was accorded to Herbert and Lou Henry's contributions to the translation project. Whereas Herbert Hoover's contribution to the translation was understood by contemporaries as a scientific achievement, Lou Henry Hoover's contribution to the project was seen as primarily literary. This paper makes the case that that the history of women's contributions to geology should not be

limited by gendered ideals of scientific success but should take into account what was possible and feasible by exclusionary standards of the time.