Julia Anna Gardner

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Julia Gardner
Born (1882-01-06)January 6, 1882
Chamberlain, South Dakota
Died November 15, 1960(1960-11-15) (aged 78)
Nationality American
Fields Paleontology, Geology
Institutions United States Geological Survey
Alma mater Bryn Mawr College, Johns Hopkins University
Known for Study of stratigraphy and ancient molluscs
Ecphora gardnerae was named after Julia Anna Gardner and is the official fossil shell of the state of Maryland.

Julia Anna Gardner (January 26, 1882 – November 15, 1960),[1] was an American geologist who worked for the United States Geological Survey for 32 years, was known worldwide for her work in stratigraphy and mollusc paleontology.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Gardner was born in Chamberlain, South Dakota, the only child of Charles Henry and Julia (Brackett) Gardner. She was raised in South Dakota but completed high school in North Adams, Massachusetts.[1] She earned a Bachelor of Arts in 1905 and a Master's degree in 1907 from Bryn Mawr College. Gardner was the first woman admitted as a full-fledged student to the Department of Geology at Johns Hopkins University, and she earned her Ph.D. in paleontology there in 1911. She continued work as an assistant in paleontology at the university. The Maryland Geological Survey published her studies of the Late Cretaceous Mollusca of Maryland in 1916.[2]

Professional life[edit]

During World War I she served as an auxiliary nurse in France and worked with the American Friends Service Committee in devastated areas of France after the war, returning to the United States in 1920.[2] She then joined the United States Geological Survey, spending most of her career studying the Tertiary beds in the coastal plain, including areas from Maryland south into Mexico. Her work in Texas in the 1920s included consultation with petroleum company geologists and identification of seventy new species of Texas fossils. She did extensive research of Gulf Coast fauna, including in Mexico during the 1930s and 1940s.[1]

Gardner served as a United States delegate to the 1926 International Geological Congress in Madrid, Spain and to the 1937 Congress in Moscow.[2] During World War II, as a member of the Military Geology Unit, she helped find the Japanese beaches used to launch incendiary balloon bombs were being launched by identifying shells fragments in the sand-filled ballast of the balloons.[3] After the war she toured Japan, encouraging Japanese scientists to continue their work.[2]

Gardner authored over 40 reports that were used as standards of reference regarding tertiary strata in North and South America. These include "The Midway Group of Texas" (Texas University Bulletin 3301, 1935); “Mollusca of the Tertiary Formations of Northeastern Mexico” (Geological Society of America, 1947); and “The molluscan fauna of the Alum Bluff group of Florida” (U.S. Geological Survey paper 142, 1926-1947).[2]

Awards and honors[edit]

Gardner was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi societies, as well as the Geological Society of America, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, and the Paleontological Society.[2] She served as president of the Paleontological Society in 1952 and vice presidency of the Geological Society of America in 1953. When she retired from the United States Geological Survey, she received the Distinguished Service Medal.[1] After her death the society published a memorial book.[4]

Ecphora gardnerae, an extinct snail shell was named after Julia Anna Gardner. In 1994 the state of Maryland designated it the official state fossil shell of Maryland. Specimens of ecphora are found along the Calvert Cliffs in Calvert County and St. Mary's County, Maryland.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d Sherilyn Brandenstein, "GARDNER, JULIA ANNA", biography in "Handbook of Texas Online", accessed May 25, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association. Much of the biography was taken from Nelson Sayre, "Memorial, Julia Ann (sic) Gardner," Bulletin of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists 45, (1961).
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Obituary of Julia Anna Gardner in The Nautilus, Quarterly publication for Conchologists, Vol. 75, July, 1961-April 1962, p. 122-123.
  3. ^ Julia Anna Gardner biography at Cartage.org.lb.
  4. ^ Harry Stephen Ladd, Memorial to Julia Anna Gardner, (1882-1960), Geological Society of America (1962).
  5. ^ Maryland Geological Survey FactSheet 6, Maryland's Official State Fossil Shell.

External links[edit]