John B. Pearse
John Bernard Pearse, prominent Pennsylvania metallurgist and mining engineer, was born in Pennsylvania in December 1842. He earned a B.A. Degree at Yale in 1861 (and was Phi Beta Kappa), then trained in the Philadelphia chemical and teaching laboratory of James Curtis Booth; he stayed there for two years, then studied in Germany at the Freiburg Mining Academy for another year. While in Freiberg in 1865 he purchased a 5000-specimen collection of minerals, rocks and fossils from the Academy's mineral dealership, the Mineralien-Niederlage zu Freiberg.
Pearse's first job was as a chemist for the Pennsylvania Steel Company (the captive creation of the Pennsylvania Railroad) in 1868 and was promoted to Manager in 1870. Pearse supported the classification of steel according to its carbon content rather than its smelting temperature (a controversy at that time). In June 1874 he resigned his steelworks position and became Commissioner and Secretary of the Pennsylvania State Geological Survey. In 1876 he became General Manager of the South Boston Iron Company. That same year he published A Concise History of the Iron Manufacture of the American Colonies up to the Revolution, and of Pennsylvania until the Present Time. Pearse married Mary L. ___, and together they had a daughter, Alice (1880), and a son, Langdon (1877).
Pearse never added any specimens to his Freiberg mineral collection. It was sold by his son Langdon (an 1899 Harvard graduate) to the Harvard Mineralogical Museum for $275, and the specimens were distributed throughout the systematic collections and teaching collections; some duplicates were also sold to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The original handwritten catalog from the Mineralien-Niederlage, covering 500 specimens, survives in the Harvard archives.
MISA, T.J. (1995) A Nation of Steel: The Making of America, 1865-1925. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.
Catalogue of Members, Yale Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa (1905).
BENTLEY, R. Unpublished notes.
FRANCIS, C.A. (2008) Personal communication.
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WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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A Freiberg Mining Academy label for a Pearse specimen sold via the Mineralien-Niederlage of the Academy.