Catalog of the Collections of Minerals in the College of South Carolina


Keeping track of the College’s large mineral collection was a daunting task, one made more difficult by several moves of the collection within the College and occupying federal troops who had little regard for the importance of the collection. Part of the problem was poor record-keeping, too. Although Richard T. Brumby had begun to keep a catalogue of the mineral specimens during the 1840s, he never finished it, and between 1856 and 1903, no formal record of new or existing specimens was kept. As a result, the only surviving information on the collection was contained in Brumby’s partial catalogue and the hastily scrawled paper labels that easily became separated from their associated specimens.

In 1903, Daniel S. Martin began the work of trying to reconstruct a catalogue of USC’s mineral specimens. Although Martin also never finished the project, he appropriated Brumby’s catalogue and continued to record specimens in that same volume, updating Brumby’s entries, recording vital information from the scattered paper labels, and offering details for the first time on the vast collection of Lewis Gibbes specimens that had never before been catalogued. Martin’s project—however incomplete—remains the principal tool today’s McKissick curators have for verifying which specimens were originally collected by Cooper, Vanuxem, Gibbes, and other early mineralogists.

Cataloguing the Collection

Keeping track of the College’s large mineral collection was a daunting task, one made more difficult by several moves of the collection within the College and occupying federal troops who had little regard for the importance of the collection. Part of the problem was poor record-keeping, too. Although Richard T. Brumby had begun to keep a catalogue of the mineral specimens during the 1840s, he never finished it, and between 1856 and 1903, no formal record of new or existing specimens was kept. As a result, the only surviving information on the collection was contained in Brumby’s partial catalogue and the hastily scrawled paper labels that easily became separated from their associated specimens.

In 1903, Daniel S. Martin began the work of trying to reconstruct a catalogue of USC’s mineral specimens. Although Martin also never finished the project, he appropriated Brumby’s catalogue and continued to record specimens in that same volume, updating Brumby’s entries, recording vital information from the scattered paper labels, and offering details for the first time on the vast collection of Lewis Gibbes specimens that had never before been catalogued. Martin’s project—however incomplete—remains the principal tool today’s McKissick curators have for verifying which specimens were originally collected by Cooper, Vanuxem, Gibbes, and other early mineralogists.

Biographical Information

Thomas Cooper (1759-1839), a native of London and an Oxford alumnus, immigrated to Pennsylvania in 1794 and had an enduring friendship with Thomas Jefferson. Cooper immersed himself in American politics and served brief and volatile stints with the University of Virginia and Dickinson College before accepting a professorship in chemistry at South Carolina College in 1819. He served as President of the College from 1821-33. He was a staunch opponent of any attempt to connect science and theology. Best known for his controversial religious views and his central role as an advocate of states’ rights and secession in the Nullification Crisis of the 1830s, Cooper was also a renowned mineralogist and chemist.

Lardner Vanuxem (1792-1848), was professor of geology and mineralogy at South Carolina College from 1821 to 1827. He is credited with the first state-sponsored survey of South Carolina’s mineral resources in 1824. Although limited to five districts, his work represented the second state geological survey conducted anywhere in the United States. His research added approximately 500 specimens to the College’s collections, including some collected from France while he was a student at the Ecoles des Mines in Paris.

Lewis R. Gibbes (1810-1894) was an 1829 graduate of South Carolina College. He was well connected to many prominent scientists in the United States and abroad during his long career, including John Edwards Holbrook, John Bachman, and Louis Agassiz. Considered by many to have been South Carolina’s most versatile scientist, Gibbes’s generosity in sharing his discoveries and specimens with other scientists in the United States and abroad garnered such deep respect that many scientists named newly discovered species in his honor. While his interest in mineralogy is overshadowed by his other accomplishments, USC possesses a large selection of minerals collected by Lewis Gibbes.

Robert Wilson Gibbes (1809-1866) was once expelled from South Carolina College for “rebellion, but later returned as a professor of geology, mineralogy, and chemistry. Like his cousin Lewis Gibbes, Robert Gibbes possessed interests in the natural world that included a number of diverse subjects. Also a physician, he was renowned for his treatments of typhoid pneumonia. While serving as South Carolina’s surgeon general in the Civil War, his home and impressive collection of artwork and natural specimens were destroyed in the burning of Columbia. Gibbes is best remembered today for his contributions to paleontology.

Richard T. Brumby (1804 – 1875) graduated from South Carolina College in 1824. Brumby was state geologist for Alabama from 1834 until 1847. He served as Professor of Chemistry from 1848 until 1856. Brumby purchased significant fossil and mineralogical specimens from Dr. Krantz of Bonn, Germany for the college shortly after his arrival. Part of his extensive collection was given to South Carolina College and the University of Georgia, and the remainder was sold 1969. A portion was acquired by Davidson College in 1870, but was later destroyed by fire.

Michael Tuomey (1805-1857), a native of Ireland, was appointed South Carolina’s state geologist in 1844. Over the next three years he produced publications on South Carolina geology, paleontology, and agriculture that remain classics in the field. He spent the latter part of his career as a professor at the University of Alabama and as Alabama’s state geologist. Because of his academic and professional collaborations, many of the specimens he gathered during his tenure in South Carolina made their way into the South Carolina College collections.

Daniel Strobel Martin (1842-1925) was hired in 1902 by A.C. Moore, who secured departmental funding to hire Martin as a conservator for the scientific collections. Over the next decade, Martin restored more than 2500 specimens and correctly associated them with the labels originally prepared by Cooper, Vanuxem, Tuomey, Brumby, and Woodrow. Martin was not able to finish the task. Long associated with the National Academy of Science and the Brooklyn Museum, Martin was professor of geology at Rutgers Female College until 1906, when he was appointed honorary curator of minerals, rocks and invertebrate fossils at The Charleston Museum. He also taught at the College of Charleston.

Scope and Content

Leather bound book, 133 pages with hand-written entries in ink, pencil, and blue-colored pencil. List of mineral specimens, beginning with 20a, Coal – anthracite and ending with number 2335, Gold on page 133.
Catalogue/ of the /Collection of Minerals/ in the/ College of S.C.

Begun by Professor Richard T. Brumby, 1848-56, and carried on until page 65. Taken up in 1902, by Prof. Daniel S. Martin, I completed as far as was able.

The collections arranged & labeled, entirely, & catalogued partially, by Prof. Brumby is one of history as well as scientific value. It comprised (as traced-out by old labels & accessioned notes, & various indirect, but clear evidences) materials from the following sources: –

I. marked C, – President & Prof. Thomas Cooper;

Collected in Europe, prior to coming to the U.S.
Collected in Pennsylvania, chiefly, prior to coming to S.C.
Collected hereabout subsequently.
II. marked V, – Prof. Lardner Vanuxeum, 1821 – 1827.
III. marked B, – Prof. R. T. Brumby, 1848 – 56.
IV. marked K – a large number of fine and in many cases rare minerals, purchased by Prof. Brumby from the celebrated dealer, Dr. Krantz of Bonn.
V. marked S – a choice selection of specimens, including set of meteorites, purchased by Prof. Brumby from Prof. Chas. U. Shepard, whose letter & MS list are preserved – fortunately – in this book.

The collection was removed, & thrown out, in 1865, by Federal troops, when quartered in the College!!!
The recovery of so large a proportion of both specimens & labels, & their subsequent rearrangement, are the remarkable service of Professors Joseph LeConte & James Woodrow (later President).
Some specimens added by, or thro’, Dr. Woodrow, are marked herein, W. or WJ. These, with all specimens subsequent to the original catalogue, are entered on the left-hand pages, – as well as some by Dr. Brumby, – & occasional notes by me; also old specimens whose numbers are lots.
D. S. M. (Daniel Strobel Martin)

Acknowledgements:
Jill Beute Koverman, Chief Curator of Collections and Research, McKissick Museum
Lynn Robertson, Executive Director, McKissick Museum
Kate Boyd, USC Digital Collections Librarian
Scanning technician, Sarah Fletcher

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