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Henry S. Washington

Henry Stephens Washington was born in Newark, New Jersey, on January 15, 1867, the son of Eleonor Phoebe Stephens and George Washington, a wealthy landowner. He began his scientific career at the age of 12 when an old smokehouse on his family's estate was remodeled into a chemical laboratory. He continued his studies in college, concentrating on the natural sciences and physics.

He entered Yale College at 15, and there received his first academic training under James D. Dana, Edward S. Dana, George J. Brush and Samuel L. Penfield. He received his A.B. Degree from Yale in 1886, with special honors in natural sciences, and received his M.A. in 1888. In his first published paper (with William F. Hillebrand in 1888), he described the crystallography of rare copper arsenates from Utah.

The next four years were spent traveling in the West Indies, Europe, Egypt, Algeria, Asia Minor and Greece, where he assisted in excavations at Plateae, Argos and Phlias. Between 1891 and 1893 he studied petrology under Zirkel at the University of Leipzig, where he received his Ph.D. He married Martha Rose Beckwith in 1894, and afterwards assisted at Yale for a time before continuing his petrographical researches in Europe and America.

In 1898 Washington put forth a proposal for a system of classification for igneous rock nomenclature. Collaborating with J. P. Iddings, Whitman Cross and J. V. Pirsson, he worked for three years to create the first systematic, quantitative, and chemicomineralogical classification of igneous rocks. This system is now known as the CIPW norm.

From 1906 to 1912 he worked as a consulting mining geologist, and in 1912 was appointed Petrologist at the Geophysical Laboratory in Washington, a position he held until his death on January 7, 1934. During his lifetime, he published 169 works contributing to archeology, regional and descriptive petrology, geochemistry, geophysics, and mineralogy. He was fluent or proficient in German, French, Italian, Greek, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, and Turkish.

ANONYMOUS (1934) H.S. Washington. Nature, 133, 557-558.
MILTON, C. (1992) Henry Stephens Washington, 1867-1934. National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoir.
SMITH, J. (2005) Henry Stephens Washington, 1867-1934. Carnegie Institute of Washington Geophysical Laboratory.
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The Mineralogical Record - Henry S. Washington
The Mineralogical Record - Henry S. Washington
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