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John Strong Newberry
John Strong Newberry (December 22, 1822 – December 7, 1892) was an American physician, geologist and paleontologist. He participated as a naturalist and surgeon on three expeditions to explore and survey the western United States. During the Civil War he served in the US Sanitary Commission and was appointed secretary of the western department of the commission. After the war he became professor of geology and paleontology at Columbia University School of Mines.
John Strong Newberry was born in Windsor, Connecticut to Henry and Elizabeth Strong. At the age of two he moved with his family to northeastern Ohio where his father opened a coal mining business. The fossils found in the coal deposits stimulated his interest in science and a visit in 1841 with James Hall, an eminent geologist and paleontologist, furthered his interests. He graduated from Western Reserve College in 1846 and from Cleveland Medical School in 1848. That same year he married Sarah Gaylord and sailed with her to Paris where he spent the next two years of studying medicine and natural history. Upon his return in 1851, he established a successful medical practice in Cleveland.
In 1855, he joined an exploring expedition under Lieutenant Williamson, sent out by the War Department to examine the country between San Francisco and the Columbia River. In 1857–58 he acted as geologist to an expedition headed by Lieutenant Joseph Christmas Ives, sent out to explore the Colorado River. He served as naturalist on an expedition in 1859 under Captain Macomb, which explored southwestern Colorado and adjacent parts of Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico, finding the remains of the dinosaur Dystrophaeus. He was the first geologist known to visit the Grand Canyon. He was called to a professorship at Columbian (now George Washington) University in 1857. Newberry was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1860.
On 14 June 1861, he was elected a member of the United States Sanitary Commission due to his medical knowledge and experience in the army. He made his first sanitary inspection of troops in the west at Cairo, Illinois, in connection with Rev. Henry W. Bellows and Dr. William H. Mussey. In September 1861, he resigned from the Army and became secretary of the Western Department of the Sanitary Commission, having supervision of all the work of the commission in the Mississippi Valley, with headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky.
The first distributing depot in the west was opened in Wheeling, West Virginia, on 8 October and was the source from which the hospitals at Wheeling, Clarksburg, Parkersburg, and other military points were supplied with a large part of their equipment. Dr. Newberry organized the whole of the comprehensive machinery of the commission in the large section that was committed to his care, and by his practical suggestions and enthusiasm stimulated the formation of the tributary societies. From 1 September 1861 until 1 July 1866, he expended more than $800,000 in money, and distributed hospital stores that were valued at more than $5,000,000. During this time the names of more than 850,000 soldiers were collected and recorded in the hospital directory in Louisville, and food and shelter were given in the various homes of the commission to more than 1,000,000 soldiers, for whom no other adequate provision was made.
In 1866 he was offered the chair of geology and paleontology in the School of Mines, Columbia College (now Columbia University), which he accepted and held for 24 years. During his connection with this institution, he created a museum of over 100,000 specimens, principally collected by himself, which served to illustrate his lectures in paleontology and economic geology. At that time, it contained the best representations of the mineral resources of the United States to be found anywhere, as well as many unique and remarkable fossils.
His other positions were: director of the Ohio Geological Survey; a member of the Illinois Geological Survey; president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; president of the New York Academy of Sciences; and president of the Torrey Botanical Club. During the World's fair in Philadelphia in 1876 he was one of the judges. In 1887, he was elected an Associate Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He assisted in the organization of the Geological Society of America at Cleveland in 1888, and served on the commission to organize an international geological congress, of which he was president in 1891. The Murchison Medal of the Geological Society of London was awarded to him in 1888.
Newberry died at New Haven on December 7, 1892.
Dr. Newberry's separate papers contributed to various periodicals included upward of 200 titles, chiefly in the fields of geology and paleontology, but also in zoology and botany. In addition, he authored or contributed to: