Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Ralph Arnold Photograph and Map Collection: Finding Aid
photCL 311  
View entire collection guide What's This?
Search this collection
Collection Overview
Table of contents What's This?
A collection of photographs and maps compiled by American geologist and petroleum engineer Ralph Arnold (1875-1961), documenting his pioneering work in oil and mineral exploration, chiefly in the Western United States, Mexico and Venezuela, from 1900 to 1954, with the bulk of materials from 1905-1935.
American geologist and petroleum engineer Ralph Arnold (1875-1961) was born in Marshalltown, Iowa, on April 14, 1875. His father, Delos Arnold (1830-1909), was a lawyer and Iowa state senator who became interested in the study of fossils after the discovery of crinoids fossils in LeGrand, Iowa. The Arnolds moved to Pasadena, California in 1886, and Ralph attended Pasadena High School and Throop Polytechnic School (now the California Institute of Technology) before receiving a B.A. in geology and mining from Stanford University in 1899. He also completed an M.A. (1900) and Ph.D. (1902) in geology and paleontology at Stanford. In 1899, Arnold married Frankie Winninette Stokes, the daughter of Frank and Oraletta Stokes, who had settled in South Pasadena in the 1880s. Ralph and Winninette Arnold had two daughters, Winninette (Noyes) and Elizabeth "Betty" (McKee), and they lived in a house at 1205 Wilson Avenue, South Pasadena (later San Marino).Arnold worked for the United States Geological Survey (USGS) from 1900 to 1909, and from 1903-1909 published a variety of paleontological articles. He was active in petroleum surveys throughout the United States, and organized the Petroleum Branch of the U.S. Bureau of Mines. In 1910, he left the USGS and spent 1911-1916 leading a team in a landmark survey of petroleum resources in Trinidad and Venezuela, about which he published The First Big Oil Hunt: Venezuela, 1911-1916 (1960). After his successful South American explorations, Arnold conducted independent petroleum and mineral explorations from Canada to Mexico, including valuable surveys in Alaska, Arizona, California, Oklahoma, Oregon, Montana, Texas and Washington. In the 1920s Arnold’s interests turned to politics, and he was active in the Herbert Hoover presidential campaign. He remained committed to the California Academy of Sciences, the Cooper Ornithological Society, and the Sierra Club, among other organizations. Arnold died in Santa Barbara, California, in 1961.
Approximately 16,000 photographs in 97 boxes: 64 photograph albums, lantern slides, glass and film negatives + 346 rolled maps.
The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.
Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.