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Kansas Geological Survey, Open-file Report 1993-26

Interview with Norman Newell, American Museum of Natural History, New York, New York

by interview by Christopher G. Maples and Rex C. Buchanan

KGS Open File Report 93-26
January 12, 1993

Note: The figure "(?)" is shown in those parts of the interview that were unintelligible; it represents words or phrases that are missing from the transcription. Ellipses ( … ) show pauses in the conversation and do not represent any omitted words or sentences.

Tape 1, Side 1

NN (Norman Newell): The point that I would like to make is that Ray Moore had his own special way of teaching in a classroom. He was not much good, very dry, and no sense of humor and also I guess his speech tended to be pedantic, as though he had actually memorized the lecture for the day. He couldn't make his presentation flow and he had undergraduate courses but students didn't like him one bit, because he wasn't funny, had no sense of humor. He didn't entertain the class. But he took students out in the field, he loved to get them out into the field, and both graduates and undergraduates, sometimes were mixed. A number of students at one time would be limited to say, two automobiles or one bus, but the thing that impressed me so much was the way that he would look at a landscape. Not just simply the outcrops but the landscape, and he had a story to tell about and he had the students learning to look at geology from a distance as well as up close. But the big thing about these field excursions was that we had a chance to get acquainted with him and he didn't seem quite so austere, not so detached. I think maybe he was just a little bit shy in front of an audience.

CM (Chris Maples): That's a description we've never heard.

NN: You don't have to follow that but this was an impression. I can't document very much of what I'm telling you. In any case, I learned from him when I got out of the automobile to get down close to the rocks to look and take notes and look at things that I didn't understand, I tried to understand, but I think the key to all of this teaching was that he gave me an opportunity, not only me but the other students, to do what they would with it. Some of them embraced it wholeheartedly and others didn't. You know Hollis Hedberg, well he didn't like the system, he didn't like Ray Moore at all. He came to Kansas because of Moore's fame and he lasted a short time and they had a fuss and he left. I really don't know where he got his degree. I don't think he got an advanced degree in Kansas.

RB (Rex Buchanan): What was your first exposure to Moore? When did you first take a class with him?

NN: There is a story behind that. I think I probably mentioned it in one of my manuscripts. My father was an amateur natural historian and he had studied with Chamberlain and Salisbury in Chicago. He was a dentist, but he took one course in historical and one course in physical geology. I still have his text book. When I was about, I couldn't have been younger than 10, he wanted to take me out to the Rockies so I could see some rocks. I was reared in Stafford County where there isn't a single outcrop in the entire county.

RB: A lot of alluvium. I grew up in Rice County.

NN: I had got away from the Survey and came east before I understood why the plow didn't encounter any rocks. I hadn't seen any explanation. It's all wind-blown stuff. And it's wind blown not in form of dunes, but it's fairly a uniform thickness of soil, which is not residual soil, and if you dig down a few inches, a few feet, and you get into gravel and you can guess where that came from. But, he wrote a letter to the geological survey. He didn't address it to Moore. I don't think he knew anything about Moore at that time, asking for some help, some books. And he told, in his letter he said that we were going out to Colorado and what should we see. So Moore recommended Florissant, which was not a park then, it was operated privately, and the idea was that it was a place where we could go collect fossils. At Florissant we learned about the Crystal Peak Mining Company. Ever heard of that one? That's a pegmatite open pit that produces a lot of nice crystals, especially smoky quartz. You've got collections of it. Almost all that stuff comes from that one mine. So we visited that place and came home and then grew up and graduated from high school and naturally I went to KU. The was the only civilized place that we knew of and I decided to major in geology so the first day without knowing any better I went in and knocked on Moore's door and introduced myself and I said, "You don't remember this, Professor Moore, but you wrote this to my father X number of years back." And he looked at it and sure enough his signature was on it and that was the contact. It … Looking back I would say that was a very astute political move on my part though I didn't mean it that way. So that's the way. And Moore had me out in the field making maps that first summer because I was not yet … Now let me see, no it wasn't that first summer. I graduated when I was 19 and he had me making maps with Mark Jewett. You know about Jewett? Did either of you know him?

RB: No, he was gone by the time I got there.

NN: He was a sterling character. He took me under his wing as a graduate student and we mapped Wyandotte County. That's where we started. It was an unusual situation. We were climbing around apartment houses and under viaducts to look at the rocks. But that's the way I got started mapping. I wasn't on my own then but the following year I was a graduate student I took on Johnson and, I guess it was Miami County, and that is where I learned about correlation. Moore was wild about correlation, he made that his specialty for many years, walking outcrops and trying to figure out what to call them and the nomenclature. He was very much concerned with the naming of things. You may know that he tried to develop a nomenclature for crinoid stems, so they could be placed in zoological nomenclature. He wanted to have some sort of hierarchy of names for the parts of fossils. He loved that sort of thing. In fact, looking back I'd say that one of his most powerful motivations was organization. He was a great organizer and that made him a natural for the Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology. So much for Moore as a teacher. Oh, I think one of the great experiences of my whole life was the trip that he took 12-15 students out to California in an open truck. You've seen photographs of that. It had the University of Kansas painted on the side. We found that a sunshade wouldn't work, wind would tear it right off. So we rode in the sun and dust and we camped out and slept on the ground on the air mattresses that were supplied by the Survey. This was a bone of contention between the Department and the Survey. Moore looked upon the Survey as a handy source of funds for the training of professional students. Well, some people didn't like that. But anyway, he was bitterly criticized for taking this tour out west--it sounded like a pleasure trip for people who didn't know what was going on. But, it was on that trip where he used to stop the … he had a driver and he would ask the driver to stop the truck and he would get out and point to something: "What is that?" And address us by name and see what kind of guesses we could make. He was great at interpreting landscapes and he wanted his students to soak up some of that and it was a good thing that no one (?) at the university would do nowadays. He took us to the break of the canyon, I think it was one of the Colorado's gorges in the southwest, to make a topographic map (?). I knew what topographic maps were because I had been required to take an engineering course. He told us about triangulation in about one hour. He taught how to make a topographic map and triangulation (?). We had the angles and with triangulation we could some idea of the relief. But the kind of experience I think stood me in great stead because it gave me a feeling for geology. When he took us to the Grand Canyon. he must have been about 45 or 50. We hiked down to the bottom and we were carrying our bed rolls on our backs and we hiked down on one of the trails and we slept in a house down there.

RB: Phantom Ranch?

NN: No. It may not exist now, but there was an old dwelling down there that had been abandoned and we got in there out of the weather (it was quite hot) and spent the night there and then we started trudging up the trail and he would quiz us about every unit that we would see to see if we remembered it from coming down. I was the youngest one of the group. I think I was still a senior and the others were graduate students. But when I got to the top I could hardly stand--I was so exhausted. For days after my knees were swollen and Moore was just as agile and spray as he could be. He took great delight in staying ahead of the students, you know. I think he would have died before he let a student pass him up

RB: What year did you finish your undergraduate degree?

NN: I was assigned to the class of 1929. I guess I must have gotten my degree in 1930. I was a member of the class of 1929 but I don't remember why that was.

RB: Moore took this trip down the Grand Canyon down the Colorado River in 1923.

NN: We heard a lot about that. People there at the park headquarters knew him well by reputation and they had a copy of his film and we sat and watched that and he gave his yarn about being stranded and being out of touch with the world for two or three days. I guess the newspapers had him lost. He must have had a lot of fun working with the Survey before that Canyon trip. He did a quadrangle with one of the older Survey geologists. But Moore did the regional stratigraphy very well. It's very scenic country you know, beautiful. So we got an eyeful and that was the first inkling that I had that he took a great interest in geomorphology. The switch backs of the incised meanders, for example. It was the first I'd heard about them and had a chance to see them in the wild and the origin of the natural bridges. He had a theory about that, which he published. I don't know whether it was original or not. Then we went on out to across the Death Valley (?). That stuff was written up by Lilacker with a photograph of the group and names of people.

RB: You went ahead and got your master's degree there then? at KU? But then you did your Ph.D. at Yale?

NN: Well, that was an interesting point there. I said that Moore was great at creating opportunities (?). But while I was studying at Yale, I was at the Survey in the summer time. In fact, I was working on my thesis out there and there was an International Geological Congress held at Lawrence during that period and so Ray Moore … Then after I got my degree at Yale, there were no jobs. That was during the Great Depression. I had an offer of something at a place called Mississippi State College and I decided that I'd rather starve, so Moore got together with Bob Dott, Sr., who was at Oklahoma and they got a GSA small grant and I was put to work mapping quadrangles in Oklahoma and studying the stratigraphy. There again, that was difficult country to work in … (?) I think I furnished the car. My wife was with me and we got $60 a month. That covered everything from gasoline, tires. But he rescued me. I was kept busy until I got my degree and we found a place where they had a …, and I think I had a big advance in salary, $150 a month or thereabouts. I still had to supply my own car.

RB: Where were the Survey offices physically located at that time?

NN: Haworth Hall. That brings us to a matter that you may or may not know about and that was the friction between the Assistant State Geologist and Moore. That was Ken Landes. Landes had a fine reputation before he got there. I think that he was one of the, he was given the highest award of AAPG, the Sidney Powers medal, and from Kansas to Michigan and state geologist there but there was a rather unpleasant story. Landes was very ambitious and he didn't like to be Moore's flunky. Moore looked upon the assistant state geologist as his assistant. That didn't sit well with Landes. Landes wasn't very nice in his reaction, and Moore was having some domestic troubles and he was visiting a lady friend in New York and Moore's wife got the details from Landes and she put a detective on Moore's trail to see what he was doing in New York and the next thing (and this is all scuttle butt) but the whole … nowadays we wouldn't think anything of it, but Kansas was a pretty fundamentalist state in those days and our chancellor was pretty sensitive. He didn't want any scandals and he thought he probably had one. So he called Moore in and scolded him and told him to behave himself. It was already too late. They got a divorce. The chancellor told Moore, he said, don't you insult the faculty with this woman …

End of Side One, Tape One.

Side Two, Tape One

NN: … of the International Geological Congress was being organized in Moscow and I wanted to go to that and I talked one of my relatives into financing the trip for my wife and me and we were going to go to go with Moore and Dunbar and Condra. You've heard of Condra, I'm sure. Have you ever met him or seen him?

CM: No.

NN: Well he was a great bull of a man, weighed about 300 pounds, a loud bass voice. He was a politician, a political appointment. He wasn't much of a geologist but he tried to get on Moore's coat tail about correlation of units (?) and they used to argue about (?) from this outcrop to that outcrop. There were a lot of field trip conferences, the oil geologists thought it was great fun to go to make a trip to eastern Kansas and decide what to call the different rocks. Well, we were all prepared to go to Russia when the Chancellor called Moore in and said you can't go. Moore wanted to know why and he said, "Well, you're in the officers' reserve and they've been sniffing (?) around here and they have a use for you elsewhere in the army." This was when western Europe was being mobilized and Stalin was just coming to power and so the first thing I knew was that Ray called me into his office and said I can't go, said I've been assigned to the army. I don't know what position he had but he was an officer in the reserve. He was assigned a post in Columbus, Ohio, and I had no idea what that meant but on my way east I dropped into see him and he was the boss of a great (I don't know what the army called it) it was a collection center for (?) hardware of various kinds, no armaments. But Moore's job was to organize this stuff, classify it. And actually he was having fun. He was humiliated and disappointed, of course, but what he did for me was to, he had received an appointment, a state appointment, as an official representative of the United States of the Congress so he turned that over to me. So I went as an official delegate with a special passport and I was about 27 or 28 years old, I was one of the youngest ones in the Congress. The Russians were mystified about the special passport. I got held up every time (?). But he was very loyal to me so I always reciprocated.
And you know his fracas with the U.S. Geological Survey? I think he was one of the … he was a powerhouse in the early days of the Survey, but afterward he became the state geologist of Kansas, he went on some … what do they call it with the Survey where you have an appointment without salary. A WARF (?)

Chris: An unpaid leave now.

NN: I haven't heard any really serious criticism of that working method. It was evident that almost every volume needed to be revised almost before it was printed. But they've all been tremendously useful because if nothing else the Germans tried one, the Russians and the French (?) of that first edition. There was never (?) picture book, catalogue of materials and a lot of which was worthless, obsolete, but in paleontology we have to work with obsolete material all the time. If you're gonna use the literature, that's the way it is. And because of the law of priority, you can't ignore all of these names.

CM: I heard that once he had (?) bryozoan volume in hand -- I guess that was about the first volume -- that he then took that around fund raising, as much as anything else, manuscript in hand, showing people what could be done …

NN: Well, that's kind of the way we got the GSA involved, without the Lillian Moore's contributions and the GSA grants, it wouldn't have gotten off the ground. Because of very expensive … One of the things that I hope you don't overlook is that Ray was a master editor. He was one of the early editors of the AAPG Bulletin. I think he organized the Journal of Paleontology. (?) So when he got into the Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology that was Ray Moore at his best. He loved fossils and I went out into the field with him many times. Him and Lillian. They'd get down on their hands and knees and comb around all over the ground looking for little things and I learned how to do that but it's not very pleasant but it's the best way. But instead of just picking up what he was interested in, he'd get everything and that was, I think, the way paleontology should be done. But then you have the problem of sorting it and housing it and making labels and that takes some organization. Nobody has any such organization anymore. U.S. National (?) too costly. I suppose there must be published reviews both abroad and in this country about the Treatise volumes and how much … I don't know if it would be worth while to look into that, but you need to have a feeling for the extent to which the Treatise has proved to be the backbone (?) of invertebrate paleontology, carried the whole science (?) and it supplied the targets for people to shoot at and most of the users think they can do better so some of them have tried (?) and that's one of the great benefits.

RB: The level of productivity on that is real impressive for us to go look at, not only for Moore's own articles that appear in there but just the number of volumes, the sheer number that come out of that.

NN: Yeah, I'm always amazed to see how the subjects are multiplying. It's getting bigger and bigger all the time and somebody out there in Lawrence is evidently quite capable in rousing up talent and getting people to work.

RB: You said before the other area that you had judged him to have made major scientific contributions is cyclic deposition. Could you talk about that for a little bit? That's one of the areas that in Kansas he still strongly identified with.

NN: You mean the cyclothems.

RB: Right.

NN: Yeah. I have been interested for a long time in the problem of paraconformities. I haven't been able to arouse much interest. I had a friendly debate with Ray in the offices of the Humble Refining Company. He denied that there was any such thing as a paraconformity and he said, "These are disconformities." I said: "But these are disconformities that are invisible and he said "There isn't any such thing." I had no difficulty recognizing (?) depth and sequence so I tossed them all back to Kansas cyclothems. You have a large number of (?) of supposed non-marine and marine strata that are parallel. That's just impossible geologically. How do you explain that? He'd said "Well, you know them, you've worked with them for years," and I said, "I can't tell you (?) a use for erosional breaks but there were very few horizons at which channeling was conspicuous" and then I pointed out to him, we could get that under submarine conditions, it doesn't have to be subaerial (?). We at that time were looking at some of the marvelous seismic profiles that Vail and his collaborators had worked out and it's quite impressive to see how extensive these parallel units are in the subsurface. Not just in the Pennsylvanian but the whole geologic column, until you get into diastrophically active situations, there is amazing uniformity of the strata. Just this past summer my wife and I took an automobile trip out to Los Angeles and we stopped at the Grand Canyon and I wanted to take another look at that paraconformity at the top of the Kaibab. It's quite impressive if you look at the contact between the (?) redbeds and the limestones/dolomites of the Kaibab. It's impressive how well exposed that contact is. You can find places where you walk for 10 miles and we did that this summer. I was just looking for any evidence where there was subaerial exposure. Couldn't find it. Now this is a situation where everybody agrees that there is a lot of strata missing, there's a time gap. Well, I … that's the subject for this letter here. I think that it doesn't have to be subaerial. Now, I originally ran across the … you may or may not have seen this paper …

CM: Yes.

NN: The thing about that that keeps coming up, people estimating how much's oscillation of sea level. Well, I think it's possible to get 40/50 meters oscillation of sea level. But that doesn't mean that any of it has to be exposed. I don't doubt that the Milankovitch influence has something to do with these cyclothems. That seems quite reasonable. Last year I went to Brazil to give some lectures at Sao Palo. They think they have some Upper Carboniferous glacial deposits down there and I've seen them and I've seen glacial pavement. You can't recognize any cyclothems at all. I don't know why. Could it be that your cyclothems have nothing to do with glaciation? I could imagine eustatic oscillation of sea level caused by other means but glaciation is so convenient, you see. This author compares it in great detail with the Pleistocene. This letter here I thought was quite, because this was my own experience in Kansas sequence …

RB: Why did Moore get interested in cyclothems? Was it because of the location?

NN: I think it's, yeah, because the cycles are so evident in that sequence, and I was there as a student when Wanless and Weller were going out with Moore. Excuse me while I wet my whistle. Well, I think there was a period of a couple of years where they weren't sure they had cycles. I used to go out in the field. Wanless particularly would predict where you'd find an underclay, and sure enough he'd find it. Well, I was a skeptic. How do you know it's an underclay? No coal. I think he was right. I think he knew what he was doing. But does that mean subaerial exposure? How about colludial (?)? I don't know what Ray Moore would say if he were to read that letter. I am sure that this fellow was influenced by what I said in my publications, because was trying to check up on me. It's very easy to find what you're looking for, if you're not too critical. The thing that's new in the business of mass extinctions is the contributions the geochemists are making. They're coming up with carbon isotopes, the delta C13 (?), and their work is more refined, more detailed than the paleontological work, but they do agree, in many parts of the world, and if the interpretation is correct, then it means that instead of extraterrestrial impacts being the primary cause of these extinctions, something has caused the progressive loss in biomass over a period of hundreds of thousands or millions of years, and then all at once a sharp cutoff, as at the end of the Cretaceous (?). The end of the Cretaceous is something that is easy to find but the end of the Permian is not. So much of it is unfossiliferous redbeds, you can't be sure where you are stratigraphically. But I look at the Kansas cyclothems as the micro stratigraphic equivalent of these larger oscillations, whatever (?). You've probably been following Al Fischer's ideas about this. Well, he's getting a following. But, of course, consensus doesn't mean scientific proof. It just means it's the best we can do at the moment.

CM: We've gotten the impression that Moore, in terms of working with some of the cyclothems, that we really was a lot more interested in the correlation problem than the cause.

NN: That was his primary interest was classification and correlation, of course, is an inherent part of that. Do you have free access to the correspondence within the administration at the University?

CM: Yes.

RB: It tends to be primarily administrative …

NN: They don't get into personal problems?

CM: They do a little.

RB: There isn't any reflection, there's no scientific content in the sense that he's not talking about the kinds of problems that he's working on at any given time. And while he publishes, there are some notebooks in the University Archives, it's hard to get a sense of, for instance, how his thinking about cyclothems developed. And I guess that's part of the reason we were interested in talking to you, is what it is that influences his notions. Did he talk about mechanisms behind cyclic deposition or not? Those are the sorts of things we don't have any luck tracking down.

NN: Well, the minds of scientists work in different ways. Some people are interested in documentation, other people are interested in interpretation. They can't very well be separated, though, because if you work solely from the literature you don't know the quality of the data and you can draw logical explanations based on quality data. But life is so short you can't do both very well. Now I would say that Ray Moore was long on documentation. He liked to observe and record and classify, but when it came to things like environmental interpretations and evolution and so on, he was perfunctory. He'd occasionally nod in that direction but not often. And one of the things that he didn't recognize was that nothing is new in this world, no matter what brilliant idea you come up with, you find that other people have already beat you to it, way back, maybe hundreds of years ago.

RB: Our judgment, just sort of looking at it from the Kansas perspective, is that a lot of the people that we work with sort of think about cyclothems and Ray Moore, they almost talk about 'em in the same breath. That's the primary association they make, maybe other than the Treatise. Do you think that's true out in the broader geologic community as well.

NN: I don't think so. I was in the audience, I think you reported on that, when he was in San Francisco at the GSA meeting when he was giving, it must have been a presidential address, talking about continental drift, which he rejected out of hand. His reasoning was quite logical; you can't push a whole continent around without crumpling everything and at that time very few people were thinking about broken continents, you see, but right in the middle of his lecture where he was talking about the stability of continents there was a mild earth shaking and the audience burst out laughing and thought that was pretty funny. I was teaching at Columbia when people like Walter Bucher and Morris Ewing still rejected continental drift as impossible. And Bucher's reason was that there's no mechanism. Well, we still don't have a mechanism. We don't have to have a mechanism. If you have enough corollaries and enough confirmation you have something to build a substantial theory, and theories are not facts, they're just explanations based on whatever you have to work with. The general public misuses that term; they think something theoretical meaning that it's imagined or sketch work (?) I'm sorry that I've never been a keeper of diaries. I've tried it a few times, especially when I was in foreign work I thought I really needed to have a diary, but I didn't have enough interest in it. You work all day long and you have to set up half the night composing your thoughts and so on. I don't look backward. I look forward, and you can't keep a diary on something that hasn't happened yet.

CM: The Treatise clearly is one of the things that Moore is …

NN: It's a monument, yeah.

CM: … and he was clearly well versed enough, in enough paleontological disciplines that he would, I'm not sure I want to use the word threaten, but at least help convince authors that if they didn't do it, he'd do it for them.

NN: That's right. And he would. I hope you can get that … you don't have to document it but some way or another you can communicate how difficult it is to get a couple of dozen authors to work together and produce at just the right time, it's just impossible, so it takes an unusual person to get a job done, and I think from where I sit, the sections that Ray wrote up are not good but they're not bad and they're a lot better than nothing. He was quite profound in some groups, the Upper Paleozoic crinoids, he made a very serious study (?) of them, and again, it was a question of documentation, of classification.

Lunch (First Day)

End of Side 1, Tape 2

Side 2, Tape 2

CM: At one point or another, we also got the impression that Moore was unimpressed with the Permian, let's say. Was not convinced that there was even Permian in Kansas.

NN: That's right. It doesn't look Permian. This is still a moot (?) question, where the base of the Permian should be drawn in Kansas. I got acquainted with your Survey man who's working on that in the Soviet Union. I met him over there. What's his name?

CM: Don Baars.

NN: I was a little disappointed. He didn't throw his weight around. I thought that Kansas had as fine a sequence as any for drawing the top of the Pennsylvanian, but he was outshouted by Chinese and Russians and ..

CM: I'm involved with him on that. We've had a paper turned down twice in Geology, in fact.

RB: Are you saying that Moore questioned whether or not all of that stuff in the Permian in eastern Kansas was really Permian?

NN: It boils down to semantics. What is the Permian? We're still not sure.

RB: If there's no clear distinction between Permian and Pennsylvanian rocks, it becomes a …

CM: It's sort of moot point. I guess he was taking the position, at least the impression I got, and correct me if this is not right, that until someone could necessarily prove that all that stuff was definitively Permian, why not just call it Pennsylvanian and not worry about it?

NN: That's pretty gradual change up, until you get up into the Leonardian (?) or thereabouts.

CM: I liked your statement about Moore viewing the Survey as a way to support education in the department.

NN: Yeah. Well, it should. Why not? That's what I think a disconformity should look like.

CM: It's a pretty good one.

NN: That's a location in eastern-most Wyoming.

RB: What's the unit here?

NN: The limestone there is Mississippian and the stuff above it is the early Pennsylvanian redbeds. You've got the surface like in southeast Kansas. That's what a limestone should look like when it's been exposed to surface weathering, sinkholes, karst. I didn't mention that I've looked at the Permian/Cretaceous boundary all over the world. I shouldn't put it that way. In many places where it's been exposed. There's no sign of desert varnish either. One idea is that the salt and the gypsum and so on suggest extreme aridity toward the end of the Permian. In other words, I'm more impressed by what you don't find than what you do find.

RB: One of the things I'd like to talk about a little bit more is … when I go back and look at that correspondence in the archives it is real difficult to tell the Survey from the geology department.

NN: They were indistinguishable. I would say that the only people who were solely Survey would be a Survey secretary and a man like Elias, who did not teach, but I suppose he was not replaced by anyone, by a comparable person.

RB: Was there any criticism of that, or was just the accepted way of doing business?

NN: It wasn't accepted, but it was forced on the University by Moore. He had his way about that.

RB: Who was critical of it?

NN: The other professors in the geology department. We had a geographer, and, who else? I think they were jealous that they didn't have a hand on Survey funds, on Survey transportation.

CM: So Moore build mostly his own programs and his own students at the Survey and not other …

NN: Yeah. I then used the survey vehicle to do work in Oklahoma and Texas, and that was frowned upon by Landes, but he didn't get anywhere with Moore or with me.

RB: You said that you worked some with John Mark Jewett while you were there. Was Walter Schoewe during that period?

NN: Yeah. He was an excellent undergraduate teacher because he was lucid and fair, entertaining, and students loved him. There was quite a sharp contrast between Schoewe and Moore. And because Schoewe's research amounted to almost nothing, he had very little stature on the campus at the time. I think every university needs some teachers who are primarily interested in undergraduate students, not only the majors but … I would like to see geology taught as a cultural subject. Make it compulsory for all the students. Nowadays, with degradation of the global environment I think you could make a strong case for that. You could call it something else. You wouldn't have to call it geology. Call it environmental studies or something like that.

RB: Did Moore do--and this may have been a side that you didn't see--did he do much in the way of interaction with the legislature, the Kansas Legislature during that period.

NN: I'm not sure about that. Landes did a lot. He drove all over the state talking with legislators, mainly farmers and I think that he was instrumental in getting the appropriation built up that way. It was news to most people that the state of Kansas made more money from the mineral resources than it did from the wheat and that was startling.

RB: So, clearly from the things I've read from the John Frye period, John Frye was the person that dealt with the legislature, that that was going on even during the Landes period.

NN: That public relations …

RB: Was that because Moore wasn't very good at it, or he just didn't enjoy doing it?

NN: I don't think he wanted to do that. He was too busy. He had his own projects and he may have felt that he wasn't qualified anyway. I don't know about that. I couldn't tell. I've been very much interested in what you've said about the fossil water becoming contaminated with salt. At some point the government is going to have to stop subsidizing the wheat farmers. They're over-producing all the time.

RB: Actually a lot of the irrigation out there and further west, where the water comes out of the Ogallala Formation, is nowadays mostly for corn production, eventually for livestock feed.

NN: When I was young, you couldn't grow corn in Kansas.

RB: It was sort of a silly idea, but that's where the big focus of irrigation out there is.

NN: How about soybeans?

RB: That's still an eastern Kansas phenomenon. You don't see that much out there. It's almost entirely corn for … nowadays we have these great big feedlots out in western Kansas that didn't used to be there, and a lot of packing plants. Beef production has outdone wheat production. The oil business in Kansas, I don't know if it's on its last legs but it's getting pretty close to that point. I'm trying to think of a good analogy, but I can't come up with one.

NN: There was a lot of talk when I was with the Survey about secondary recovery, using water. Has that pretty much (?)?

RB: There's a lot of use of secondary recovery but there's been discussion for a long time of tertiary recovery but it's never really been economic and hasn't gotten off the ground. Prices have stayed low enough that drilling, well, the rig count is generally in the 20s nowadays, which, all through the 80s it was up in the 100s or 150. There's just not much going on any more. That sort of brings back another thing that Chris and I have talked about with Moore. He was, was he conversant with the oil and gas folks in the state?

NN: Yeah.

RB: Was that primarily through the geological society that he did that, or was it one-on-one?

NN: They started out by coming to the Survey for help and then he would keep them informed of new publications. He sent me out one time to give a lecture on the publications during the year and I thought the oil people would be very much interested.

RB: Did you go on some of these KGS field trips that he helped run in the 1930s? What were those like?

NN: They were very well done. They were mainly sort of vacation jaunts for the geologists. They liked to stand on outcrops and talk about correlations. In those days, there was not much talk about (?) and there wasn't any real sedimentology being done. There was sedimentary petrography but that (?).

RB: Did the oil and gas people view what Moore was doing as directly relevant to their work?

NN: Yes.

RB: So he wasn't viewed as some sort of academic who was off doing …

NN: No he'd get out and talk their language. And I think their relations were friendly.

RB: Did he produce students who then went off into the oil and gas industry during the 30s?

NN: Virtually all of them because the oil industry would take somebody with a bachelor's degree. In fact, I remember being told that they didn't want somebody with a higher degree because they'd cause trouble. They'd [the students] tell them how to do their business. But all that's changed. I may be mistaken (?) I think the future of geology teaching is public education. Not many professional geologists are needed in industry (?). But it's an exciting field and I think the public would eat it up if they knew about it. The problem is the chemistry and physics departments, because they come first, their courses are prerequisites for so many general subjects. Do you have any talk about environmental geology out there? (?)

RB: To a certain extent, and also the application of geophysics to environmental problems is one of the places the Survey has been involved in.

NN: Also paleontology.

RB: A little bit.

NN: Well, it's hard to sell but (?)

RB: One of the things I was interested in, you touched on briefly before, or I guess the question I had was, what do you think Moore's ambitions were? He's obviously a very driven personality, almost to the point that he excludes people from coming into his life because he wants to get work done. Why is that? What goal out there was he trying to reach that was so important that he fastened on with such obsession.

NN: I think that it's a human, part of the human scene for some people to be driven by the need for recognition and that may come through power or money but I think that what he was after was fame. And he got it. Begrudingly (?)

RB: Was he after fame as simply being known as a dominant force within invertebrate paleontology or geology?

NN: I think so.

RB: So he wanted fame, not so much, almost as an end in and of itself. Did he want to be known … he didn't have any sort of overarching theories that he wanted people to remember him for?

NN: No. Very strange.

RB: It is. Because in a lot of cases people have this sort of burning idea that they want to pass on to people, the message they want to carry.

NN: Well, he was always so immersed in details that he didn't have the time or the energy to make (?). For example, it was his ambition to make known all of the fossils in the Kansas Pennsylvanian or Permian, and he desperately tried to make his own contribution to that. It was too big a job, too many … I got into that in my doctor's thesis. The thesis was opportunistic. I had to have something to get a degree, so I used my stratigraphic studies of the Missourian series. But the Yale faculty wanted to have some paleontology in there, see, so I (?) identification of the fossils that I observed in the field. These were, well you can take them right back to the laboratory and I did recognize the associations were different but I couldn't explain why. That disappointed them.

RB: What you said before was that he wanted to describe every fossil that came out of the Lower Pennsylvanian? That's almost an encyclopedic … it's sort of like wanting to read every book in the library.

NN: Well, the first question a critic would ask is "Why? Why (?) know all that? What's the objective?" I can think of objectives but it takes many lifetimes and unhappily after one lifetime you find that all that stuff is obsolete (?)

RB: Most people want to use that, to synthesize it as some sort of larger idea that they're trying to propose, as opposed to simply doing it for its own sake, that is cataloging for its own sake. Maybe, I don't know.

NN: Well, I followed in Moore's footsteps considerably. Me, I worked on the Upper Paleozoic bivalves. I found, as far as that's concerned, I loved the fossils enough that it was rewarding, personal satisfaction. That's a little hard to sell, you know, to somebody else, it's a very selfish viewpoint. I think that most research scientists work in that atmosphere. They find something that's interesting, they become immersed in it and they're a little embarrassed when somebody wants to know why. My wife, a lot of people ask her what I do, "He studies clams." (?) put it that way. Sounds utterly childish, you know. So I asked her to say I am a geologist. Well, what is that? We study the history of the earth, the way things happened in the past, changing climates and all of those wonderful things that you get in historical geology.

RB: One of the things Chris and I have talked about that's frustrating about Moore is that lack of sort of philosophical approach to things.

NN: That's right. He didn't have it.

RB: Yet it's ironic that somebody could make a major name for themselves without that.

NN: Well, he couldn't have done it without the Kansas Geological Survey.

RB: You mean, the support, the facilities, and the kinds of energy he could bring to bear on classification kinds of problems, or collections, or stuff?

NN: The state legislators didn't ask him how he went about it, you see, but it was known that Kansas had a big mineral industry and that's what the Survey is all about. It's that simple.

RB: Did you ever talk to him about that, that sort of lack of philosophical discussion is present not only scientifically but in terms of when you look at how he administered the Survey. There's no discussion in the publications or his own notes of what his guiding philosophy of the Survey was. What he wanted the Survey to do …

NN: I don't know whether I'm quoting him, probably not, but I found that when I went to Yale that, in the Kansas atmosphere we weren't supposed to speculate. The Yale crowd wanted us to speculate about everything, you see. So there's quite a difference in philosophical approach. But I think that Moore was very pragmatic, he just didn't want to waste time guessing at anything. He did get on the glaciation bandwagon, but I think it was Wanless who invented that one.

CM: Would you say that Moore was very empirical in how he approached geology and paleontology? He really wasn't testing anything necessarily when he went out.

NN: No, he was exploring and I have a lot of that in my makeup. I love to explore, to see what's there. Not that I can do anything with it, but … I think there's a place for that in science. As a matter of fact, I think most fundamental science is in large measure exploration. With, of course, some interpretation, testing.

CM: So you don't think, then, in the case of cyclothems that he took an existing model and then went out--or maybe he did--took an existing model and went to look at eastern Kansas to see if they fit that model?

Oh yeah. He had, you remember (?) had an idealized Illinois cyclothem and Moore had one and I used to (?) privately I would scoff when they would try to see in the rocks what they had in this diagram. And they were doing it all the time. Wanless did that, Marvin Weller, Ray Moore. And then they had mega-cyclothems and all sorts of involved terminology.

Tape Two Ends Here

Tape 3 Side 1

NN: … if you explain the cyclothems as eustatic changes in sea level, then these should be universal … you've gotta find them every where.

CM: I think that's (?) to try to do that correlation, if I remember right.

NN: There's nothing wrong with that, but you have to (?), have to see whether you're way off, a little bit off …

CM: I don't know about that correlation because I don't know that it's been tested, or is testable. How many graduate students were there working with you working with Moore at the time?

NN: Oh, maybe a dozen.

CM: Is that a pretty average crowd at the time?

NN: Yeah.

CM: That's a lot of students.

NN: Two-thirds of them would be headed for oil companies. They'd be stratigraphers. One-third would be mineralogists.

RB: Were those students pretty much kids like yourself who had happened to come to KU and wound up interested in geology, or did Moore's name attract students?

NN: Most of them had not heard of any faculty at KU. It's just that KU seemed to outrank the agricultural college and the remaining colleges were church schools scattered around. Everybody in those days, as now, would like to have a profession of some kind, interested in making a living, something with a salary.

RB: One thing you said early on--and Chris remarked that we'd never heard anybody say it before, and it's really true--I'm not sure that you didn't pick on something pretty precisely that may be the key to his behavior and personality was shyness, and that his way of avoiding dealing with people was being brusque.

NN: He was a little unsure of himself. He was trying to prove himself. It's interesting that he would entertain students at his home and he would have a couple of decks of cards out, and I think they used to like to play hearts. I don't know if you know that game or not. And they'd start about 8 o'clock and he wouldn't let us finish until he had won. He was so patent (?) with it, it was funny.

RB: In some respects, what you're saying is that he's almost an insecure person.

NN: Oh yes. It's like bullies generally are. He wasn't exactly a bully, because he … I don't know of any case where he mistreated anybody. But he expected very high standards from his students and when he didn't get those standards, why the student disappeared.

RB: Did he have, during that period you were there, anybody who could be described as a confidant?

NN: No. That's what you're looking for. If you found such a person, you could pump them for information.

RB: That's true. The lack of one says something as well. I mean, I'm not sure that we have any evidence that anybody shows up like that during his entire life, and that's a long time to go without …

NN: That's right. I think we're cut off by the generation gap now because there may have been people on the Yale faculty who got next to him but it would only be through their professional work.

RB: A similar thing to that that Chris and I were talking about the other day is whether or not he had any sort of role model that he aspired to, anybody who's behavior he emulated in any sense. I'm not sure we've done very well in identifying a person there either.

NN: Well, let me see now. Nobody that's still living. He used to talk about … he was a University of Kansas paleontologist, I'm trying to …

RB: S.W. Williston?

NN: Not Williston, no. It's gone, but I … but there's no connection that I could stress …

RB: Claude Hibbard? Was he there?

CM: I don't know if Hibbard was there at that time or not.

NN: I think that Al Fischer could help you more than anybody else there.

RB: It's just that by the time you get done looking for some sort of role model … Chris and I have talked about the possibility that maybe some of the folks at the University of Chicago might have provided a role model to a certain extent, but there's no real obvious names at Kansas and you never really come up with names of a close personal friend, and eventually you start to paint this, sort of a lonely existence.

CM: In fact, you don't see Moore co-authoring with people for long periods of time.

NN: That's right.

CM: There seems to be this, what, three, four, five, six years stretch, maybe, where he will co-author with people, then that's about it.

NN: Now there was a textbook by Moore, Lalicker, and Fischer, but I don't know what's happened to Lalicker. He's dropped out of sight as far as I know. I don't know if he ever had any help. I know that Lillian Moore didn't like him. He was very friendly with some of the British geologists, but they're gone now.

RB: Almost all of his relationships seem to be professional relationships.

NN: All of them, yeah.

RB: And they tend not to last over real extended periods.

NN: I used to play in jazz orchestras out there on campus, and I was astounded one time, when I came to set up and get ready for a dance and Ray Moore came up and said (?) in charge. It was completely out of context. I watched him dance, and he could dance but not too well. But he was very stiff and ill at ease and you knew he didn't belong out there.

RB: But you know Chris and I found a photo in archives of him in drag for some theatrical performance.

NN: Is that so?

RB: It took us a long time to figure out that it was him because it caught us so completely by surprise, it was so out of character …

NN: You couldn't believe it. This was in Lawrence?

RB: Yeah.

NN: I didn't know that.

RB: But it showed a side that's there, at least, for a while, and then seems to disappear later on.

CM: It's clear that he wasn't a completely humorless person.

NN: No. I remember he was entertaining some foreign visitors at Haworth Hall and there was one entire room that was devoted to exhibits and Ray reached over to point at something and hit his head with a loud bang on the glass and, to my astonishment, he laughed. He thought that was very funny. He said, "I could have been decapitated if this glass had broken."

RB: Yet, by the same token, it has this … I don't know if it's an artistic side, but he sketches a fair amount.

NN: (?) I suppose you have a collection of his sketches.

RB: Particularly a lot of the portraits that he did.

NN: That's what I mean.

RB: I've been looking through his Grand Canyon trip field notebook. He has a sketch of a Navajo Indian in there that's one of the few times that I see a sketch of anything other than somebody from the neck up later. So at least at one point he's interested in … He's very good at sketching these sort of landscape, block diagram views, views that you can't possibly have. You know, he's synthesized two or three different views of the landscape and then drawn it the way it would look if you could get up in the air and look down at it. Very nicely drawn.

NN: He was good at that.

RB: It sort of ties in, to a certain extent, with what you were saying about interpreting landscape features because that … I'm not sure that I've heard anybody talk about that before, and that's a larger picture sort of view that you don't necessarily associate with him.

NN: Well, I think he had picked that up when he worked for (?) in the high plateaus of Utah.

RB: There's not a lot of evidence of that in the stuff that he published in Kansas about that. Did he ever contemplate leaving Kansas?

NN: Vacation?

RB: No. I meant KU or the Survey. Was that just a non-issue?

NN: That was a non-issue. As far as I know he never got any attractive offers to go somewhere else. I think he was satisfied with (?). He had a lot of perquisites.

CM: Was he teaching his Geologic Development of the World when you were there? That was a course that pretty much everyone who's come along after the time that you were there talks about that course in particular with Moore and GDW.

NN: History of the solar system?

CM: It's a little bit of everything, and he would assign people reading on the Middle East and say that they would have to basically deal with Arabic and sort it out themselves.

NN: Well, one thing I should mention shows his interest in students. He used to harangue us about the German literature and he had a lot of German textbooks and whatnot in the library. So he started offering a night course in German. He instructed the students in German himself. He wasn't a linguist, you know. But he had the authority to drag people out of their comfortable houses and to Haworth Hall (?). So he was really (?). Didn't last long, though, I think. A couple of years. I guess maybe they had the German requirement for the Ph.D. way back then. They found that the candidates couldn't read German, so he thought that was his fault. He went through a period while Landes was still there where he had difficulty getting around. Landes said, "He probably has ghonnerea." I suppose it was some ailment from which he recovered.

RB: It certainly doesn't sound like there was any love lost between those folks during that period.

CM: The archival materials that we've gone through, in terms of letters and things, makes it pretty clear that he was not incredibly disappointed when Elias left.

NN: No. Mrs. Elias was stirring up a lot of trouble for him. But how are you gonna handle of all this when you write the book?

CM: We're not sure. We don't know.

NN: It doesn't add anything to the measure of the man.

CM: No. It doesn't. But it paints an overall personality. Without actually getting into stories, it's a good descriptor of the person, and that's …

NN: If you want to look into it, and it would be pertinent, I think, look into the history of famous chemists and physicists. I think you'll find that most of them were not very lovable people.

RB: I think in Elias's case, those are the letters that in some respects I'm a little surprised they still wound up in … they're still in university archives, that nobody went through and pulled them out because they are … they're awful. They're painful to read even when you don't know any of the people, even 50 years later. Mostly because they reflect … it's obvious that both Moore and Elias were in a fair amount of pain over the entire situation and it's painful to read about how much they were suffering.

NN: Well, Elias was obviously emotionally disturbed and I recognized that when I first met him and it just got worse during that time. But he was thirsting for recognition, and what he got was that people thought he was a little bit funny because of his accent and his behavior in the field, on field trips, people would laugh behind his back. I think he was very brilliant but my only criticism was that he was a dilettante. He didn't stick with anything long to produce a great work.

RB: I think partly how that all fits in to what we're looking at, on the surface it almost appears that Moore doesn't want anybody around who might overshadow what he's doing,

NN: Oh, that is certain. That's evident. No question about that. But he didn't have anyone around who was capable of overshadowing him.

CM: Well, yeah, I suppose that's right. But Rex and I have sort of talked about the people who have come and gone through the Kansas program and during that time there were some tremendous people who came through that institution as students, colleagues, etc. I'm not sure you could say that in recent decades, but that seems to be a really, almost a special time.

NN: Well, one of the things is that several people from that (?) right here on our staff are several people from the University of Kansas. Entomologists, herpetologists, mamologists, and I think that the University has turned out a magnificent crop of scientists. And one wonders why, because Oklahoma and Nebraska haven't done anything like that.

CM: There are a lot of comparisons here that point directly, that point in part towards Moore, either indirectly or directly. There's an institutional comparison this way in which Rex and I have talked about potentially the department enjoying today, in large measure, some of the reputation, the geology department in particular and its relationship, not only with academic but with the industry, through Moore's efforts. Kansas is known as a strat/paleo school.

NN: There's a very eminent oil geologist there, Merril Haas, a stratigrapher, (?) and he must know (?) about Moore.

CM: I'll betcha he does.

NN: I think that he does. Hass was the vice-president and chief geologist of (?) company and they had Moore as their consultant working for them.

CM: Did Moore do a fair amount of consulting work?

NN: No, not that I know of.

RB: Was that just because he was occupied with other things, or there were opportunities out there and he chose not to …

NN: Well, he had to be the boss, you see. If he were a consultant, he'd have to work on somebody's problem, try to help them with it, and he wouldn't like that.

RB: When you said just now that he was the boss, did he do much in the way of day-to-day administration of the Survey and the department or did people like Frye and Landes get …

NN: They did the work.

RB: Were there occasions … did they view it thus, that if a problem got bad enough it went to Moore, or did they always deal with …

NN: Well, if they needed help they'd go to Moore, of course. He had the purse strings and he would have to authorize any major movement. I think you have a pretty clear picture of the man. But how you say this is another matter.

RB: One of the problems that we've got, I think, is that most figures who get discussed in terms of history of science do so because of their association with some idea that they've developed. Moore is almost a different case because he manages to achieve this pre-eminent position without that association, with the possible exception of cyclothems, but those weren't really his … weren't really an original idea with him.

NN: That's quite an accomplishment. He put the University of Kansas on the map. A lot of European geologists think of Kansas as Moore's center of activities on the world scene.

CM: But it is tough to put that down in words and to pull this all together, because you can pretty easily talk about someone being well known for an idea or a concept. Moore is almost well-known for being well-known. And that's tough.

RB: Well, he's almost well-known for his force of personality, which is not necessarily a good thing to be … while you're certainly right that an awful lot of eminent people are known for their maybe single-minded devotion to their craft or their science, this is almost a case where he's known for being a tough old son-of-a-bitch by a lot of people, which is an amazing thing to have that kind of memory go on.

NN: Well, you're too young to heard this, but when I was growing up we used to hear about Darton and what a great man he was. And when you're trying to pin down what he did, mapping vast areas of (?), and the maps would all have to be done over again anyway.

RB: Actually, he did some logs along the Santa Fe railroad that I used when I took the railroad out to Albuquerque a couple of years ago that stood up pretty well. I enjoyed reading them, some of his stuff.

NN: (?) Well, now, has Heckel added anything to your (?)?

RB: We haven't talked to him about this. He wrote an early paper on the development of the concept of cyclothems that I thought was a real nice piece of work. I don't know him very well.

NN: I don't either. I've had some correspondence with him.

RB: But I was kind of impressed …

End of Side 1, Tape 2

Discussion of letter from graduate student; next day, introduction of NN's wife.

NN: Lillian Moore played a very important role in the Ray Moore epic and I think that she should be given the full treatment in your book. On two counts. For one thing, she brought him the companionship that he had never had and loving care, profound respect. I've worked with him in the field many times and she would get down on her hands and knees and collect fossils right along with him so that she professed to love fossils as much as he. I think that probably it wasn't quite that way. Now the other count was that she has, through her generosity, has guaranteed the perpetuation of the Treatise. Now it's a mystery to me how she ever came upon a million dollars. Do you fellows have any (?) about that?

RB: Bill Hambleton, do you know Bill, the director of the Survey later on …

NN: Yeah.

RB: I asked him about that because he was involved with the will. Bill said that she saved every bit of money that they could save …

NN: Yeah, but you don't make a million dollars that way.

RB: Well, Bill's impression was that over time that there was a little inheritance money involved, but not very much, but over time …

NN: They made investments?

RB: They made investments. In archives there are a lot of stock certificates, some land that he had. Bill attributes it mostly to Lillian's money management.

NN: Certainly her forethought and also her generosity because she could have spread it around, you see, after his death, but she obviously preferred …

RB: Do you know how Raymond met her?

NN: No, that's what I was going to ask you.

RB: I don't know the first thing about that.

NN: Well, now I know it was a rumor that she was an old schoolmate of his. That that's the way he knew her. Now this could be in Chicago or Denison and it may be that there are some people at Denison who could help you. Just get on the telephone and tell them what you're looking for. She was not a geologist (?) but (?) very much interested in Ray and everybody knew that. I don't even know the dates of the marriage.

RB: I was gonna say 1936 or '37.

NN: Yeah, that's about right.

RB: The interesting thing is, it falls in that same period when everything in the world seems to be going on.

NN: That's right. I get confused.

RB: I can't get over how much activity is going on at the Survey and in Moore's life all in a stretch from about 1932 to about 1937 or 8.

NN: I suppose that you've seen this [refers to essays he's written about Moore]. That's even more than I know. I really scraped bedrock to come up with that. Anyhow, the thing that is pertinent here is that it was asking too much for Lillian to change Moore's whole personality. She couldn't do that. But she made him happy, for the first time in my acquaintance with him, and it showed. It made him … it mellowed him quite a bit. I don't know whether she is given that credit or not, but I would. They were together all the time.

RB: I'm not sure I've ever heard anybody else say that before. They attribute the money, the financial aspect to her pretty regularly and her helpfulness in the field …

NN: She was always with him, you see, except in the office. She didn't come to the university. When I saw them was in the field and at home and I know … oh, one anecdote, I got it from her, so I think it's probably true, that when they were driving, traveling somewhere in the automobile, she would hold a typewriter on her lap while Ray would dictate over his shoulder. It's almost incredible, but I'm sure a lot of people know that. Not many wives would do that.

MRS. N: No.

RB: One thing that I hadn't thought of until just now that relates only tangentially to all this, but Chris and I wrote that memorial in the Journal of Paleontology …

NN: Yeah, I have it here.

RB: … partly because we couldn't find any others, and I can't quite understand why that is. This is 1989. He died in '73. You see memorials to all sorts of obscure people, at least they seem obscure to me, in GSA and various other places, and yet there wasn't one to him.

NN: Well, the situation is probably understandable in that memorials happen because somebody is interested. The general public is not going to come forward. And because you gentlemen were interested, something happened here.

CM: But it still seems sort of odd to us that none of his colleagues, students, etc. at the time would have put something together, even a short …

NN: Well, I would have expected that from Curt Teichert. He was close to him. He knows a lot. But Curt was also empire builder, and when he decided he would succeed as the director of the Treatise, he took charge immediately (?)

RB: Did you actually this is something Chris and I were talking about this morning did you ever know Erasmus Haworth, does that name …

NN: I met him. He was retired and he just stopped in to see Ray about something. I was introduced to him. He must have been quite an effective chief of the Survey. He got a lot done, a lot of publications, especially the work by Beede and (?) on the fossils. That was a costly thing. I don't know who financed the field work. Somebody must've. Taxpayers, maybe.

RB: As far as you know, did Moore have much to do with Haworth?

NN: No. They weren't close.

RB: Because, in essence, Haworth was director of the Survey until 1915, and then W.H. Twenhofel came along for a year or two, and then Moore came along. Haworth hung around the geology department until 1920 and, again, I'm sorta lookin' for role models for R.C. Moore and was wondering … Haworth was very effective.

NN: You mentioned Williston. I would only have to guess. I never met Williston, but Moore admired him and I don't know if he knew him or not in Kansas. I think that they knew each other in Chicago.

RB: I assume they knew each other in Chicago.

NN: Williston was teaching there when Moore was a student.

RB: I just thought of that because Moore did write a memorial to Erasmus Haworth that was published in '32 or '33, after he died.

NN: Well, he sort of felt it was a duty. I don't think that he was close to Haworth.

RB: Okay, that was something I was curious about.

NN: I never thought of Haworth as a scientist. I don't know just what his contribution to the geology of Kansas may have been. Maybe that came out in Moore's (?).

RB: He was primarily an oil and gas type, especially by …

NN: Well, that was in the days when oil and gas didn't amount to much.

RB: Up until … right after he left the Survey he got very involved in consulting in oil and gas. He said that was the only way he could afford to survive. I don't know if that's true, but I've seen a lot of consulting reports that he did later on. But he did take the Survey from being a sort of nonentity within the university and gave it an identity.

NN: How did there come to be a Survey in the first place?

RB: That was established there in 1889, I think, because the state legislature felt like they could give KU responsibility for conducting one but didn't give 'em any money to do it with. They'd been getting a lot of criticism for there not being a Survey, so the legislature's approach was to establish one, but then they didn't have to pay for it. They expected KU to pay for it out of their appropriation. It was actually, I think, a pretty good model, but it was as much an accident as anything else.

NN: When I was a student, there was a professor of mining geology in the department. You don't still have such a person?

RB: I don't think so, no. That existed for quite a while, that mining geology relationship. But Haworth was really the one that did that identification of the Survey. Twenhofel left, came and went real quickly.

NN: I was with Twenhofel (?) but I didn't know him very well.

RB: At Wisconsin? He apparently was, wanted to continue his own research and didn't feel like there was time for him to do that and direct the Survey so he left in a hurry.

NN: Twenhofel is another one of those very great names who is not appreciated very much, he rubbed so many people the wrong way.

RB: Is that right?

NN: Well, the thing that he did that annoyed a lot of people, he was director of a project for the National Research Council on sedimentation, they called it. So he got together a team of writers and he edited the manuscripts and the book was published under his name. And the various authors didn't like that one bit. They hadn't understood it, in fact, I thought they probably didn't realize that a commercial book was in the offing.

RB: I think that Chris and I were just surprised, and not to dwell on this, that nobody after Moore's death thought it was their duty, there was no single person who thought it was their duty to sit down and do something.

NN: I read the memorials in the GSA bulletin, AAPG, and sometimes I'm astonished at the author of the memorial. You'll find that it was drafted, the writer really didn't know what his (?). The National Academy of Sciences has that problem because they have a memorial series. I remember (?) usually is to be two or three or four pages, and is supposed to be very thoughtful and something doing justice to the person, and it's not easy to find somebody who is qualified or interested. A lot of people aren't interested, it's a lot of work.

RB: It was impressive for Chris and me to work on that one of Moore because of the bibliography involved. We went back and looked at the publications and also compared Ray Moore's own list to the list that we would up compiling, and sometimes the order of authorship was different in Moore's own bibliography than it was when you saw them on the title page.

NN: People around here are really sensitive about that. Well, that's one of the few rewards the academic scientists have, to see their name in print.

RB: It's impressive to look at the sheer volume, the magnitude of all those publications, at least for us.

NN: Well, he stayed at his desk and he wrote all the time. One of the things I recall from reading what I've said here, was that right up 'til the last he maintained beautiful script handwriting, was unusually nice in appearance but it was legible. But most people … by the time I graduated from high school I could hardly write because I learned to operate a typewriter and it seemed so much more efficient and now my fingers are arthritic. I can hardly sign my name. But Ray maintained his (?) right up to the last. Did you know John L. Rich (?), ever hear of the name? Well, as Kansas geologists you'll be interested in him. He lived in Ottawa, he was an oil consultant but when I first met him, I guess I was first working in Johnson County, he showed me how he surveyed eastern Kansas. Oil prospecting. You wouldn't believe it, but he made it work and made quite a bit of money drawing contours on the buried shoestring sands. You wouldn't think that they would have reflections (?). In my geophysical days, we didn't have that. His technique was to drive around the section line with his automobile and he took elevations so they'd corroborate (?), which would give you an accuracy to plus or minus 10 feet, and he had a lot of holes drilled and quite a few of them were (?)

RB: So he was inferring buried channels based on surface topography?

NN: That's right.

RB: I didn't think that worked.

NN: Well, in certain topography. You look for outcrops, but you wouldn't think it would work. (?)

RB: You worked in Miami County, too, didn't you say yesterday?

NN: Yes, that's an interesting county.

RB: Because that's where the first oil wells in Kansas were drilled, based mostly on seeps, I guess.

NN: You wouldn't remember about the situation in the first world war when the Germans were hard up for petroleum. They started mining the oil fields. They'd sink shafts down and try to scoop out the saturated sands and process them. They had a lot of trouble with explosions and the people suffocated and whatnot, but they made a go of it before they started with synthetic fuels. Someday that could happen in eastern Kansas. Why not? You let machines do all the work and sit people down (?)

CM: Actually, I've been called about that within the past two years by somebody who wanted to take a 10 foot diameter borehole, and just go straight down and send people down to pull stuff out.

NN: That's not the way to do it. Well, what thoughts have you had now?

CM: A few things. Some specific, some general. As much as Moore accomplished, and as impressed as we've been with all the things that he did, and he was working right up until the absolute end …

NN: That's right. Well, he was a very stimulating man. One of the things we discussed briefly yesterday was, what's the motivation of a person like that. I think his first love was fossils and that's my first love. People here don't care about fossils, don't understand it, you see, where the pragmatists who can make use of the fossils, have something else in mind. But to Ray, a fossil didn't have to have a use at all. He just found them fascinating, still wondered about anything new that he found, was full of enthusiasm, and I think that belongs in his story, though lots of readers wouldn't understand it. But I think that is the chief motivation for most pure scientists. But in order to justify their work, they have to try to translate it into something practical. What kind of paleontologist are you?

CM: I'm a invertebrate paleo-ecology type, late Paleozoic.

NN: Well, I dabbled in that for quite a while, and it went over big with the oil companies, but I still don't what paleo-ecology is.

CM: Neither do I.

NN: We can do the sorts of things that modern ecologists do: current velocity, temperatures …

CM: You have to ask very different questions and let time averaging be your friend instead of your enemy with the questions you ask.

NN: Well, that's what we used to call Twenhofel sedimentary interpretation. You go into sediments (?) and take anything that you can find and try to make some sense of it. Fossils are only part of it. And geochemistry plays an important role (?)

CM: Anyway, as much as Moore was able to do and as busy as he was and as much as he accomplished, is there anything to your knowledge that he really wanted to get done but he never really got done?

NN: Everything he started was unfinished.

CM: Okay.

NN: He would have carried on ad infinitum. No, I don't think that he felt frustrated, discouraged (?). The time that he may have been frustrated was when he didn't convince his colleagues. Some of them were incapable of being convinced. But he was able to infect other people with his interest and enthusiasm. Consider his wife. (?) respect for him, and if he thought it was good, it must be good (?) I don't know how you go about … you don't know her maiden name, do you?

RB: Lillian? Yeah, it was Baggs, I think.

NN: Well, are you aware of the big library at Salt Lake City, the genealogy.

RB: Actually, in her case, with do have some information in archives. It's his first wife and his daughter that we have their names and that's all. And his daughter is really a person that I think we need to talk to, but tracking her down is going to be very difficult because, as I've said, all we have is a name there.

NN: Well, I knew her casually, his wife, but I've forgotten her first name. Do you remember it?

RB: No, I don't remember now, I'd have to go back and look it up. But she just seems to disappear completely.

NN: Well, she did that rather well. That's what she wanted to do.

RB: The daughter and the wife never again had any contact with KU, as far as I can tell, ever after that. They severed all ties completely.

NN: They hated the place.

RB: Apparently.

NN: How about Landes's widow? She would have known them.

RB: Probably so, and we haven't tried to talk to her, but that's probably … because John Frye came along later, John Frye or his wife wouldn't have known them. So again, the number of people who did is real small. People like Bill Hambleton repeat stories that they heard from that period, but that was before Bill was around, so …

NN: They'd be apocryphal probably (?), distorted considerably.

RB: Bill's version is that that divorce and remarriage got Ray Moore completely ostracized by the university community.

NN: It did. But that was deliberate, a campaign of vilification. People took Mrs. Moore's side, not because they liked her but because they disliked him.

RB: Bill made it sound like it wasn't so much a case of Moore's enemies as it was the view that people simply didn't get divorced then.

NN: That's part of it.

RB: Therefore the University chancellor almost looked upon it as moral turpitude.

NN: Yeah. He was like that. An old-fashioned, fundamentalist, revivalist sort of chap. About 6 feet 6, sort of thin, had a face like Abraham lincoln, no beard.

RB: Apparently he was concerned about what legislators and people in the state would think about it, but as far as I can tell there isn't real evidence that they were very concerned. Now that's not the sort of thing that generally leaves a lot of evidence either.

NN: I grew up in the backwoods, so to speak, and the people there didn't expect much from the University of Kansas. They thought the whole place was a den of inequity.

RB: That was true even at that time?

NN: Oh yes. It was said that people went to dances, played poker, all of which is true. I remember, I was visiting, oh, back in the 60s, I was out there visiting an old schoolmate, (?), "What's going on up there at the University of Kansas? One of the co-eds committed suicide." I said, "What's wrong with that? Doesn't that happened everywhere?" No, no, only at the University of Kansas. Part of it was the (?) educated man didn't have a chance to go to college.

RB: I think that was a function partly of the law school and the medical school being at KU, the business school, that feeling …

End of Side 2

Kansas Geological Survey
Placed online May 8, 2015
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