Geologists' Association

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Geologists' Association logo.jpg

The Geologists' Association[edit]

Easter 1903. GA Excursion group photograph. Typical group photograph in the collection.

In August 1858, a letter appeared in the magazine The Geologist proposing the formation of ‘an Association of Amateur Geologists’ so that ‘solitary’ students of the science could form a society where they ‘could compare notes, give an account of our rambles, examine one another’s fossils and minerals and … be of great assistance to one another.’ As a result, an initial meeting by interested parties was held in London on 29 November 1858, to discuss the establishment of such a society. The name ‘The Geologists’ Association’ was formally adopted at a meeting of the organising committee on 17 December 1858, and a ‘Prospectus’ was circulated with The Geologist of January 1859. The first Ordinary Meeting, held on 11 January 1859, was attended by some 200 persons and the first Annual General Meeting took place on 2 January 1860. In the formation of the Association, particular emphasis was placed on the holding of ‘Excursions or Field Meetings.’ These, together with a regular programme of lectures (a list of which can be viewed here) and an annual exhibition, have remained the ‘backbone of the Association’ since. Another early objective of the Association was the formation of Local Groups, in order to advance the interests of the Association, initially in the home counties, both for the benefits of members and to liaise with other ‘Field-clubs and Societies.’ With the passage of time, our Local groups have since spread across the country.

Lodore (new style)[edit]

A poetic view of what GA excursions were all about — has anything changed today?!


[" One of the visits of the Geologists' Association this year will be to Lodore."— Westminster Gazette.]

HERE they come chattering,

And there they go battering;

Here chopping and chipping

(Excuse for cheap tripping),

Geologists throng and hurry along.

Now raising a clamour,
Now wielding a hammer,

Lodore's basal braccia they revel among.

Flirting and flitting,
Volcanic rocks splitting;
Spouting and frisking,
Their precious lives risking
With climb and with bound;
Collecting, disjecting
The stones from the mound.
Tugging and toiling,
And ruthlessly spoiling
Fragments of andesite lying around.
And rocking and shocking,
And skipping and slipping,
And wrangling and jangling,
And shaking and breaking,
And hopping and dropping,
And heaving and cleaving,
And smashing and crashing,
And striving and driving and riving,
And jumbling and rumbling and tumbling,
And clattering and battering and shattering,

And prying and trying and spying and buying,

And meeting and greeting and eating and treating,

And jamming and cramming and dramming and—dashing

(The genuine scientists one in a score),

And that's how geologists go to Lodore.

The Geologists’ Association Carreck Archive[edit]

The GA Carreck Archive provides an unrivalled record of the Geologists’ Association from its earliest days to the present.

Dedicated to Marjorie Carreck (GA Archivist from 1955 to 2010) the Carreck Archive comprises a mix of albums, loose photographs, letters, postcards and associated ephemera. It particularly brings to life the field excursions of the GA; the places visited and the people visiting them. It is this mix of geological record and social history that makes the Carreck Archive unique. The Archive has undergone a complete restoration (funded by the GA Curry Fund) and is now housed with the British Geological Survey in Keyworth. The Archive is being digitised by the BGS and a number of albums are now available to view on the BGS Earthwise website.

We currently need volunteers to help document and index the archive on-line. It’s a straight forward task, all you need is access to the internet. It’s an opportunity to get to know the archive and contribute to its indexing creating a resource that will be available for everyone to use.

If you’re interested in volunteering, would like to make a donation to the archive, or simply have any questions about what’s in the archive then please do get in touch:

Jonathan Larwood, GA Archivist

Further reading[edit]

Larwood, J.G., 2014. New life for historic geology archive. Earth Heritage, 42, 19-20.

Larwood, J.G., 2016. Geotourism: an early photographic insight through the lens of the Geologists’ Association. In: Hose, T.A. (ed.), Appreciating Physical Landscapes: Three Hundred Years of Geotourism, Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 417, 117-129.

Volunteer tasks[edit]

GA/BGS tasks Task What’s involved Web links Actions/progress Activity
Ready now Tasks ready to to work on
GA Task 1 Indexing Miss MS Johnston Detailed index transcription of two MS Johnston Albums

Instructions and discussion page

[Album 1]

[Album 2]

Index page Album 1

Index page Album 2

Album 1 and 2 index page ready Album 1 Ongoing
GA Task 2 TW Reader - album page links

The task is to replace the existing text in the first column with the full link to the specific page for the listed item. This allows direct access to an album page image the particular photo is on. Users will be able to see the photo in its page context.


Example where a few links have been completed

Example where headings have been inserted

Links to be inserted

Section headings to be inserted (Headings are Excursion name)

Representative excursion photo to be inserted

See below for full list

GA Task 3 GA Albums – album page links As Task 2 above. Example where a few links have been completed As Task 2 above. (Headings are geological subjects or other)

See below for full list

GA Task 4 Elsie Giles transcription Elsie Giles photo albums lack captions in the albums. The notebook listings could be transcribed and then linked to the listing entries of exact page in the album Elsie Giles notebook (personal)

Elsie Giles notebook (other photographers)

Save the file that was sent to you onto your PC


File/Open html file - open the file that was sent

View Elsie Giles Album

View the Elsie Giles Notebook in separate tab

Add row data for each photograph

Save the file occasionally - it is ALWAYS saved to your 'Downloads folder' Don't forget to backup your work!

BGS Task 1 Textbase document preparation BGS are extracting the text from paper publications and placing in a text database. The resulting text will be closely integrated with the digital geological map and 3D models so both can be consulted together This demonstrator shows this in action for three sample volumes Documents are geological reports on 1:10,000 mapping areas. Local geology. Optical character recognition errors to be corrected. Document structure to be added.
GA Task 5 Excursion pages Create a series of articles based around individual field excursions. See next column for link to a sample excursion article. Motor_excursion_in_Surrey, Saturday June_6th, 1914 Start with brief details, image galleries, info on the geology from the write ups in PGA. When the Circulars become available (Post Covid-19) Scan for image and extracted text. Key Circulars could be fast-tracked once access is possible prior to a major systematic scanning programme.

Prioritized order

  1. excursions for which we have a circular available now.
  2. excursions lacking the above but for which there is interesting material in the Johnston albums
  3. excursions lacking the above but for which there there are lots of photos in the already indexed photos in the Reader/Brown albums
GA Task 14 Record of excursions made between 1860 and 1890 Correct the Optical character recognition (OCR) 1. Edit a MS Word file so it matches the PDF original publication. correct typos and formatting. 2. When correct each excursion will be added to Earthwise along with a transcription of the appropriate Circular for the excursion.
Planned Concept and task not yet fully developed
GA Task 6 Field Trip Index There is an Excel spreadsheet listing individual Excursions. This could be added as a resource to Earthwise and links made to Album photographs and PGA, GA Circular accounts Prepare suitable format – possibly a table with thumbnail photos linking to full page entries
GA Task 7 Specific transcriptions Letters, postcards and prose – there are a number of letters, postcards and prose in the MS Johnston Albums – these could be transcribed Agree format and identify transcriptions – could be selective, link to specific people or general.
GA Task 8 People, places and stories There are a number of people and places that feature regularly in the Archive. This task could highlight these developing biographies and connections within and outside the Archive Need to develop this idea more fully
GA Task 9 Role of Women in the GA Women have had a pivotal role in the GA since its formation in 1858 – there’s a story to be told here Page of signatures of women members of the GA, also the following page 1. A general article on the role of women in the GA.

2. Articles on individual women members

GA Task 10 Sites past and present Track the change of a site through the Archive and bring up to date with contemporary photographs Need to develop idea – valuable as it potentially adds new images and demonstrates how places and sections are lost and changed
GA Task 11 New ideas As the project develops and volunteers become familiar with the archive encourage participants to develop new ideas
GA Task 12 Archive Volunteer Forum We’ll need a forum to share what we’re doing, ask questions and seek help on things we see but don’t understand and so on Explore setting up a forum with the GA (JL)
GA Task 13 Reader and GA indexes — add a representative image for each excursion View the album pages for each excursion. Select an interesting image (with people in?) from each, download the image from Geoscenic, Upload the image to Earthwise and add an image link to the page. All albums excluding Giles and Johnston volumes
BGS Task 2 BGS Dinner Books The Royal Hammerers and The Grizzly Bears - the dining clubs of the early Geological Survey. A long tradition of the Geological Survey were geologists' dining clubs. For a large part of the Survey history the Survey was quite small and each year they got together in a dining club, one in London called 'The Royal Hammerers' and one in Edinburgh called 'The Grizzly Bears' A few songs can be viewed here

Members of staff of the Survey were often members of the GA too. Here is a page of signatures of former Survey staff from the Johnston volumes.

The task is to transcribe the manuscript songs and convert ones already transcribed onto Earthwise