March 31, 1857
February 19, 1949 (1949-02-20) (aged 91)
Palo Alto, California
United States Geological Survey Stanford University
Penrose Medal (1944)
Bailey Willis (March 31, 1857, in Idle Wild-on-Hudson, New York, United States – February 19, 1949, in Palo Alto, California) was a geological engineer who worked for the United States Geological Survey (USGS), and lectured at two prominent American universities. He also played a key role in getting Mount Rainier designated as a national park in 1899. After later focusing more on seismology, he became one of the world’s leading earthquake experts of his time.
1 Early life and family
5 Further reading
6 External links
Early life and family
Bailey Willis was born March 31, 1857, the son of poet and publisher Nathaniel Parker Willis and Cornelia Grinnell Willis. At the age of thirteen he was taken to England and Germany for four years of schooling. and thus acquired fluency in German at a time when many scientific texts were only available in that language. He entered Columbia University and in five years completed his studies with the degrees of mechanical (1878) and civil (1879) engineer.
Willis married his cousin, Miss Altona Grinnell, in 1882, but she died in 1896. The couple had two children, Marion, who died in infancy, and Hope, later Mrs. Seward H. Rathbun. In 1898 he married Margaret Baker, daughter of Dr. Frank Baker of Georgetown University, who was also superintendent of the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.. The children of his second marriage are Cornelius G. Willis, Robin Willis and Margaret (Mrs. Donald F.) Smith. The family lived for many years on the Stanford University campus. Mrs. Willis died in 1949.
After receiving degrees in mining engineering and civil engineering, Willis worked from 1881 to 1884 as a survey geologist for Northern Pacific Railroad. From 1884 to 1915, he worked for the USGS, being named director of the Appalachian division in 1889. In 1893 he published “The Mechanics of Appalachian Structure” in the Report of the United States Geological Survey. From 1895 to 1902 he lectured on geology at Johns Hopkins University. In 1900 he was appointed as head of the Division of Areal Geology of the USGS. In 1903 he accepted the invitation of t