Eleanora Knopf

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Eleanora Frances Bliss Knopf
Eleanora Frances Bliss Knopf.jpg
1928 US Geological Survey ID Portrait
Born Eleanora Frances Bliss
(1883-07-15)July 15, 1883[1]
Rosemont, Pennsylvania[1]
Died January 21, 1974(1974-01-21) (aged 90)[1]
Menlo Park, California[1]
Occupation Geologist

Eleanora Frances Bliss Knopf (July 15, 1883 – January 21, 1974) was a geologist who worked for the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and did research in the Appalachians during the first two decades of the twentieth century. She studied at Bryn Mawr College, and earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry, a master's degree in geology, and a Ph.D. in geology in 1912. After completing her Ph.D., she accepted a position at the USGS, where she met and married the geologist Adolph Knopf. She was the first American geologist to use the new technique of petrography which she pioneered in her life's work - the study of Stissing Mountain.[2]

Early life[edit]

Her father, General Tasker Bliss, about 1918.

She was born in Rosemont, Pennsylvania on July 15, 1883. Her father was General Tasker Bliss — a career soldier who became Chief of Staff of the US Army during the First World War. Her mother was Eleanora Emma Bliss née Anderson. Both sides of the family could trace their ancestry to settlers from England.[1] She married her husband, Adolph Knopf, in 1920. She became a step-mother to his three children, who were already of school age at the time.[3]


She attended Bryn Mawr College, where she earned her bachelor's degree in 1904. She was a student of Florence Bascom, who had started the geology department there. Eleanora worked as a demonstrator in the geology lab at Bryn Mawr as well as an assistant curator in the Geological Museum at the college between 1904 and 1909. After two years at Berkeley (1910-1911), she returned to Bryn Mawr to work with Anna Jonas Stose on the study of the metamorphic rocks near the college. They presented their dissertation together and received doctorates in 1912.[3][4]


She joined the United States Geological Survey in 1912 as a geological aide and continued her work on the metamorphic rocks on sites around Bryn Mawr. She published several papers on her work in the area, often co-publishing with Anna Jonas Stose.[3] In 1913 she published her findings of the first American sighting of mineral glaucophane, located in Pennsylvania.[5] In 1917 she was promoted to a geological assistant and later, in 1920, she became a full geologist. At the USGS, she met and married Adolph Knopf. They moved to New Haven, where he taught at Yale University. She worked as a visiting lecturer at both Yale and Harvard. She continued to work for the USGS until 1955 on a when actually employed basis. In 1925 she began studying the rocks of the Stissing Mountain region.[3] These presented unusual difficulty due to thrust faults. She used the methods of Bruno Sander in which the fine structure of the rock was examined — the grains and the optical properties. This technique of petrography was new to US geology and her 1938 book on the subject, Structural Petrography, brought her much distinction.[4] In 1951, she joined Stanford University’s geology department as a research associate.[3]

She continued to study the Stissing Mountain rocks until her retirement in 1955 but also made some expeditions to the Rocky Mountains. This could be rigorous—"I counted 43 chigger bites on my anatomy and quit!"—but she lived to the age of 90 before dying in Menlo Park, California in 1974. She died of arteriosclerosis.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e Aldrich 1980, p. 401.
  2. ^ Oakes 2007, p. 408.
  3. ^ a b c d e Aldrich 1980, p. 402.
  4. ^ a b Aldrich 1993, p. 55.
  5. ^ Commire 2007, p. 1044.
  6. ^ Aldrich 1980, p. 403.