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Robert M. Garrels (1916-1988) Papers

Identifier: 11/3/14/10

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Scope and Contents

The Robert M. Garrels Papers fill twenty-one boxes and span the period 1938-1988. The papers are arranged into four principal categories (correspondence, teaching files, research files, and publications), plus biographical material and papers presented at meetings. An addition extends the collection to the year 1992.

The correspondence relates primarily to Garrels' research, writings, and academic interests. The general correspondence is arranged chronologically by year. The subject correspondence is arranged alphabetically by correspondent, deals mostly with Garrels' research, writings, and recommendations of colleagues.

The teaching files consist of syllabi, reading and lecture notes, and related materials. These files are arranged first by the institution where the courses were taught, then by course name and number.

The research files comprise raw data, correspondence, and reports. A small amount of this is in French. The research files are arranged alphabetically by topic.

The books section of the publications category contains correspondence, portions of manuscript and typescript drafts, and notes. The articles section consists of drafts, correspondence, notes, and graphs.

Addition, Boxes 22-24

This addition fills two and a half archival boxes, and spans the period of 1939-1992. The papers are arranged into five categories: biographical materials; correspondence; teaching files: papers presented: publications (the bulk of the addition).

The biographical materials consist of teaching requirements, awards, Garrels' M.S. dissertation for Northwestern, programs from conferences at which he presented papers, and a bound volume of letters from his colleagues presented to him on his retirement in 1988.

Correspondence includes subject correspondence with Nature magazine relating to a controversy over an article published by a colleague, and correspondence with the Precambrian Paleobiology Research Group that dates after the PPRG files in the original series. Two teaching folders contain paperback volumes of coursework for Garrels' Geology A1 course at Northwestern. Two folders of papers presented contain copies of the papers and a conference schedule.

Published books consist of two softcover textbooks co-written by Garrels, Fred Mackenzie, and Cynthia Hunt. The addition contains a substantial number of articles, dating between 1941 and 1988; the folders may include occasional correspondence related to an article. Articles with much related correspondence were placed in separate folders and organized alphabetically by title. Other publications consist of Garrels' editorial work, work completed for the government (mostly the Department of the Interior), and a folder of correspondence and diagrams for an unknown government publication. One folder contains requests to use Garrels' diagrams and figures in other author's publications. A final folder contains unidentified notes taken by Garrels and unidentified article drafts.


  • 1938-1992


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is stored off-site and requires two business days advance notice for retrieval. Please contact the McCormick Library at or 847-491-3635 for more information or to schedule an appointment to view the collection.


24.00 Boxes

Language of Materials



Robert M. Garrels joined the Northwestern University faculty as an instructor in geology in 1941. In 1944 he became an assistant professor, and in 1949 an associate professor in 1949. After interruptions for work with the U.S. Geological Survey and at other universities, he returned to Northwestern as professor in 1974, retiring in 1980. His papers fill twenty-one boxes, spanning the period 1938 to 1988, are arranged into four principal categories: correspondence, teaching files, research files, and publications. The collection also includes biographical material papers presented at meetings. An addition extends the collection to the year 1992.


The original collection of the papers of Robert M. Garrels is organized into: biographical materials; correspondence (general, arranged by date; subject correspondence, alphabetical by corresondent, organization or topic; letters of recommendation, alphabetical by name in two groups); teaching files (arranged by institution, course number and date); research files (arranged alphabetically by topic); papers presented (in alphabetical order); publications (books and articles, each in alphabetical order).

The addition to the collection is organized into: biographical materials; subject correspondence (alphabetical by topic); teaching files, Northwestern University (arranged by course number and date); papers presented (arranged by date); and publications (books and articles, each in alphabetical order).

Method of Acquisition

The Robert M. Garrels Papers were donated to the University Archives by his widow, Cynthia Hunt Garrels, on March 1, 1990 (Accession #90-18).

Addition: The addition was donated to Northwestern University Archives by Cynthia Garrels on August 8, 2004 as Accession No. 04-114.

Separated Materials

Three inches of duplicate and extraneous materials were discarded. A few items from this addition were interfiled in the Biographical and Publication sections of the original series.

Processing Information

Maria Reynolds, Fall 2004.

Guide to the Robert M. Garrels (1916-1988) Papers
Maria Reynolds
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Library Details

Part of the Northwestern University Archives Repository

Deering Library, Level 3
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US