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Guide to the Heinz A. Lowenstam Papers, 1935-1993
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Sketch
  • Scope and Content

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Heinz A. Lowenstam Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1935-1993
    Creator: Lowenstam, Heinz A.
    Extent: Linear feet: 1.5
    Repository: California Institute of Technology. Archives.
    Pasadena, California 91125
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to the California Institute of Technology Archives. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of the Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the California Institute of Technology Archives as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item, Box and file number], Heinz A. Lowenstam Papers, Archives, California Institute of Technology.

    Biographical Sketch

    Heinz A. Lowenstam was born on October 9, 1912, in Upper Silesia, Germany. He was educated at the University of Frankfurt and began his graduate work in geology and paleontology at the University of Munich just at the time of Hitler's rise to power.
    In 1935, he declared his intention of conducting his Ph.D. field research in Palestine, to the dismay of his pro-Nazi department chairman. After spending 18 months studying the geology of the Eastern Nazareth Mountains, he returned to Germany to learn that a new law prohibited the awarding of doctorates to Jews.
    In 1937, Lowenstam emigrated to the U.S., where he was accepted at the University of Chicago. After receiving his Ph.D. in 1939, he went to work as a paleontologist for the Illinois State Museum. During World War II, he did oil and coal research for the military. Subsequently, he joined the geochemistry faculty of the University of Chicago, where he worked with Harold Urey on the temperature of ancient oceans (paleothermometry).
    Lowenstam joined the geology faculty at Caltech in 1952 with the title professor of paleoecology. During his years at Caltech, Lowenstam traveled widely and conducted research in a variety of fields, including the geology of the Midwestern U.S.A. and the geology of the Middle East, invertebrate paleontology and prehistoric ecology. He became celebrated for his discoveries in biomineralization--that living organisms manufacture substances such as the iron-containing mineral magnetite within their bodies. Lowenstam first encountered this phenomenon in the chiton, a sea creature that had "iron teeth." He is also renowned for his pioneering research on coral reefs and their influence on biologic processes in the geologic record.
    --Charlotte E. Erwin

    --June 1994

    --rev. March 1995

    Scope and Content

    The Papers of Heinz A. Lowenstam were given to the Caltech Archives by the Division of Geology. The Steven Weiner correspondence was supplemented by Lillian Weitzner.
    The papers represent only a small portion of Lowenstam's scientific legacy. Of special interest are the field notebooks from Lowenstam's doctoral research in Palestine. Written in German, they systematically record his mapping of the Eastern Nazareth Mountains and other geologic formations of the region.
    A small amount of correspondence, mostly from the late 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s, is included in the collection along with some biographical data.
    Finally, there are guides, maps and notes by Lowenstam on some of his many field trips, both in California and elsewhere.
    Researchers should also consult the Caltech oral history interview conducted with Lowenstam in 1988.
    --Charlotte E. Erwin

    --June 1994

    --rev. March 1995