The Mineralogical Record
The Mineralogical Record - Join us on Facebook!  The Mineralogical Record - Sign up for our newsletter

 California Institute of Technology
(1891-    )

In September 1891, Pasadena philanthropist Amos Throop rented the Wooster Block building in Pasadena for the purpose of establishing Throop University, the forerunner of Caltech. In November of that year, Throop University opened its doors to 31 students and a six-member faculty. Throop might have remained just a good local school had it not been for the arrival in Pasadena of astronomer George Ellery Hale. The first director of the Mount Wilson Observatory, Hale became a member of Throop's board of trustees in 1907, and envisioned molding it into a first-class institution for engineering, scientific research and education. Under his leadership Throop's transformation began.

By 1921, Hale had been joined by chemist Arthur A. Noyes and physicist Robert A. Millikan. These three men set the school, which by then had been renamed the California Institute of Technology, firmly on its new course. For the next 76 years, Millikan and his successors led the Institute as it achieved preeminence in the scientific community. During this time programs were added in geology, biology, aeronautics, astronomy, astrophysics, the social sciences, computer science, and computation and neural systems.

The Caltech mineralogy collection was founded in the 1930's, and is built on a major collection of several thousand specimens assembled by Dr. John F. Fargo (1834-ca.1915), a Los Angeles mineral collector who was active in the late 1800's to the early 1900's. From that beginning the Caltech collection grew through donations of collections of faculty, students and other individuals. A major donation of North American gem minerals and faceted stones came from Dr. Franklin G. McIntosh (1876-1940), a resident of Franklin, Pennsylvania, and Beverly Hills, California. He had been an active collector in the 1920's and 1930's. Smaller collections of Thomas F. Cole (1863-1939) of Pasadena and Harry L. Fuog (1885-1978) of east Los Angeles were also added in the late 1940's. A portion of the fabulous collection of pegmatite minerals built by Thomas W. Warner (1915-1955) of Pasadena also came to Caltech.

The next major acquisition came from a thin section specialist and retired curator of the Caltech collection, William C. Oke (1883-1964), who donated a collection consisting of about 3,300 specimens from worldwide localities. Curatorial duties were assumed in the early 1960's by W. Jack Rodekohr (1894-1979), an active mineral collector who also worked in the Caltech thin section laboratory. Following Rodekohr's death, retired Pasadena City College professor, H. Stanton Hill (1911-2004) was hired as curator of the collection; he donated most of his 1,600-specimen personal collection of well-crystallized minerals. For a couple years thereafter, Mary Johnson assumed part-time curator duties.

Additional specimens came through a collection of crystallized ore minerals established in the early through mid 1900's by Frank C. Laurie (1887-1975). In 1996, the collection of George P. Wagoner (1915-1979) of Altadena, California, accumulated between 1925 and 1970, was received as a donation. Wagoner worked at both Caltech and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The Caltech collection today numbers about 16,000 mineral specimens, 7,000 rocks, 1,200 gems and 950 meteorites.

PETERSEN, O.V. (1994) World Directory of Mineral Collections. Mineralogical Record, Tucson, 293 p.
To contribute more information please E-mail us at:

[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Mineralogical Record
Biographical Archive, at]
Click on thumbnail picture to see larger image.
Number of labels found: 5 | Labels being viewed: 1 to 5

The Mineralogical Record -  California Institute of Technology 56 x 77 mm
The Mineralogical Record -  California Institute of Technology 37 x 63 mm
The Mineralogical Record -  California Institute of Technology 40 x 63 mm
The Mineralogical Record -  California Institute of Technology 39 x 65 mm
The Mineralogical Record -  California Institute of Technology 45 x 60 mm,
Label for a specimen from the collection of H. Stanton Hill (1911-2004).
Contents copyright © 2019 The Mineralogical Record, Inc. All rights reserved.  
Graphic design of this website by Wendell E. Wilson. Website programming by