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Call No.: HUM 206
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Creator: Fowler-Billings, Katharine, 1902-.
Title: Katharine Fowler-Billings lantern slide collection
Quantity: 1 cubic feet (2 slide boxes, 1 half-record carton)
Abstract: Katharine "Kay" Stevens Fowler-Billings (1902-1997), geologist, was born in 1902 and was raised in Boston, Massachusetts. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 1925, received her MA from the University of Wisconsin in 1926, and completed her Ph.D in geology at Columbia University in 1930. The collection includes 88 lantern slides that document Fowler-Billings' 1937 geological expedition to Russia and Japan for the 17th International Geological Conference. The slides include photographs and maps of Siberia and the Black Sea, a Caucasus horseback trip, Japanese villages and volcanoes, and various scenes of Russian archaeological sites, workers, villages, and landscapes.
The Harvard University Archives also holds the Papers of Marland Pratt Billings, 1939-1972 (HUGFP4212.3xx).
Katharine "Kay" Stevens Fowler-Billings (1902-1997), geologist, was born in 1902 to William Plumer Fowler and Susan Farnham Smith and was raised in Boston, Massachusetts. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 1925, received her MA from the University of Wisconsin in 1926, and completed her Ph.D in geology at Columbia University in 1930. While attending the International Geological Congress in 1929, she met her first husband, fellow geologist James W. Lunn. They soon married, and Fowler changed her name to Katharine Fowler-Lunn. In 1938, she married geologist and Harvard professor Marland Pratt Billings, thus taking the hyphenated last name, Fowler-Billings; the couple had two children. Marland Pratt Billings joined the faculty at Harvard University in 1930 and became Professor Emeritus in 1972. Fowler-Billings often encountered sexism in the field, and sometimes had to disguise herself as a man in order to gain entrance to geological sites. Fowler-Billings taught at Wellesley College, Erskine Junior College, and Tufts College, but spent most of her career conducting private research. She was elected a fellow of the Geological Society of America and was a member of the Society of Women Geographers. In 1996, the Mount Washington Observatory established a Marland Pratt and Katharine Fowler-Billings Fund in New England Geology to honor and continue thelegacy of their work. Billings died in 1997 at the age of 95.
Fowler-Billings, Katharine. Stepping stones : the reminiscences of a woman geologist in the twentieth century. New Haven, Conn.: Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1996.
The collection is arranged in original order as received by the Harvard University Archives.
This collection includes 88 lantern slides, documenting Katharine Fowler-Billings' 1937 geological expedition to Russia and Japan for the 17th International Geological Conference; this trip is described in her 1995 autobiography, Stepping-stones: the reminisces of a woman geologist in the twentieth century. According to the lantern slides' labels, the photographs were taken by Fowler-Billings, Dr. Armin K. Lobeck (a geologist from Columbia University), Florrie Holzwasser (an assistant professor of geology at Barnard College), George Bain (an economic mineralogist at Amherst College), and an unidentified person referred to as "Harrison." In her autobiography, Fowler-Billings explains that she lost her camera on the trip and therefore had to "rely on generous friends for pictures ofthe places we visited." The slides include photographs and maps of Siberia and the Black Sea, a Caucasus horseback trip, Japanese villages and volcanoes, shots of Manchuria and Korea, and various scenes of Russian archaeological sites, workers, villages, and landscapes. The slides all have handwritten labels, presumably all recorded by the same person, some of which are written in French.The first box of slides, which has been re-housed, originally included two handwritten notes reading, "This Box: 1937 Geological Expedition in Russia..." and "All these were blown up for book." The page numbers included in some of the slides' titles may reference the books that the maps were originally taken from.The second box of slides was originally housed in a box with the initials "JWL" on its lid, presumably referring to Fowler-Billings' first husband, James W. Lunn. The box has deteriorating black leather straps; the buckle has detached and is housed separately.The third box includes misceallenous notes and papers, of unknown date and origin, that were originally included with the slide boxes, as well as the original slide boxes.
This document last updated 2017 April 13.