Cover image for Meteorology in America, 1800-1870
Meteorology in America, 1800-1870
Fleming, James Rodger.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Baltimore ; London : Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.

Physical Description:
xxii, 264 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
General Note:
First published 1990.
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QC857.U6 F54 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Between 1800 and 1870 meteorology emerged as both a legitimate science and a government service in America. Challenging the widely held assumption that meteorologists were mere "data-gatherers" and that U.S. scientists were inferior to their European counterparts, James Rodger Fleming shows how the 1840s debate over the nature and causes of storms led to a "meteorological crusade" that would transform both theory and practice. Centrally located administrators organized hundreds of widely dispersed volunteer and military observers into systematic projects that covered the entire nation. Theorists then used these systems to "observe" weather patterns over large areas, making possible for the first time the compilation of accurate weather charts and maps.

When in 1870 Congress created a federal storm-warning service under the U.S. Army Signal Office, the era of amateur scientists, volunteer observers, and adhoc organizations came to an end. But the gains had been significant, including advances in natural history and medical geography, and in understanding the general circulation of the earth's atmosphere.

Author Notes

James Rodger Fleming is an associate professor and director of the Science, Technology and Society Program at Colby College. He has been a research meteorologist, a Smithsonian Fellow, and a historical consultant to the American Meteorological Society.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. xi
List of Tablesp. xiii
Acknowledgmentsp. xv
Introductionp. xvii
1. Early Issues and Systems of Observationp. 1
2. The American Storm Controversy, 1834-1843p. 23
3. Observational Horizons in the 1830s and 1840sp. 55
4. The Structure of the Smithsonian Meteorological Projectp. 75
5. Stormy Relations among Theorists and Administratorsp. 95
6. Cooperative Observations and Contributions to Knowledgep. 117
7. Weather Telegraphyp. 141
8. The Worldwide Horizonp. 163
Appendix. Collective Biography of a Sample of Smithsonian Observers Active in 1851, 1860, and 1870p. 175
Abbreviationsp. 185
Notesp. 189
Bibliographyp. 229
Indexp. 253