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Rogers, Henry D. (Henry Darwin), 1808-1866



  • Existence: 1808 August 1 - 1866 May 26


Henry Darwin Rogers (1808 - 1866) was an American geologist and educator. He is known primarily for his work as official state geologist for New Jersey and Pennsylvania, his field studies in mountain building, as well as for his establishment of several scientific associations. Henry Darwin is the brother of William Barton Rogers, founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1861.

Rogers, like the rest of his siblings, spent much of his professional life as an educator. As a professor he taught chemistry at Dickinson College, and was similarly elected to lecture on geology and mineralogy at the University of Pennsylvania. He'd later live and teach abroad in Scotland, as the first American Chair of Natural History at the University of Glasgow [3].

Much of Rogers' work was also done on behalf of several state governments. In 1835, he was appointed by the state of New Jersey to lead the state's Geological Survey, in which he subsequently published a report and a map of the state [2]. A year later, in 1836, he would be chosen by the state of Pennsylvania as their own state geologist. Rogers would continue to intermittently work to survey Pennsylvania, and in 1858 published his final report for the project, The Geology of Pennsylvania: A Government Survey [1].

During the 1840s, alongside his government work, Rogers, with his brother William Barton, would execute geological field work with a predominant focus on the structure(s) of the Appalachian Mountain chain [1]. Their theories, first presented in Boston for the Association of American Geologists and Naturalists -- in which the brothers helped to co-found -- were considered quite radical for the time, and helped to establish themselves as leading geologists of the day. Henry and William would co-author many scientific publications together across their respective careers, however much of the work published in On the Physical Structure of the Appalachian Chain (1842), has since been debunked by modern scientists.

As part of other freelance work, Rogers would relocate to Boston in 1846. It was after speaking to Boston philanthropist, John Lowell, in 1846, that Henry asked his brother William Barton Rogers to draft a plan for a scientific school which would later become MIT [4].

Soon after visiting his brother, William, in Boston, Henry Darwin Rogers would return to Glasgow where he would die on May 29th, 1866.

1. "Henry Darwin Rogers" Encyclopedia Britannica (July 2022) 2. “William Barton Rogers: Chronology” MIT Libraries 3. "Henry Rogers" University of Glasgow (March 2020) 4. Elizabeth Andrews, Nora Murphy, and Tom Rosko “William Barton Rogers: MIT's Visionary Founder” MIT Libraries (October 2004)


Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

William Barton Rogers II papers

Identifier: MC-0003
Scope and Contents of the Collection The substance though not the bulk of the papers consists of letters from Henry Darwin Rogers to his nephew William Barton Rogers II, son of James Blythe Rogers. From 1852 to about 1857 William Barton Rogers II worked as an assistant to Henry D. Rogers on the Pennsylvania Geological Survey. The papers of are interest because they shed light on the working methods of the Geological Survey of Pennsylvania.The collection includes correspondence from Henry Darwin Rogers instructing...
Dates: 1838 - 1919

William Barton Rogers papers

Identifier: MC-0001
Abstract This collection contains the personal correspondence of William Barton Rogers, the founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Family and professional correspondence, notes, articles, lectures, clippings, and drafts of articles on scientific topics, documents relating his philosophy on science and technology education, and many antecedent documents relating to the establishment and early years of MIT are included. An important part of the collection is drafts of...
Dates: 1804 - 1950; Majority of material found within 1834 - 1882