Guide to the Heinz A. Lowenstam Papers, 1935-1993

Processed by Charlotte E. Erwin; machine-readable finding aid created by Brooke Dykman Dockter
California Institute of Technology
1200 East California Blvd.
Mail Code 015A-74
Pasadena, CA 91125
Phone: (626) 395-2704
Fax: (626) 793-8756
© 1998
California Institute of Technology. All rights reserved.

Guide to the Heinz A. Lowenstam Papers, 1935-1993


California Institute of Technology

Pasadena, California

Contact Information:

  • Archives
  • California Institute of Technology
  • 1200 East California Blvd.
  • Mail Code 015A-74
  • Pasadena, CA 91125
  • Phone: (626) 395-2704
  • Fax: (626) 793-8756
  • Email:
  • URL:
Processed by:
Charlotte E. Erwin
Date Completed:
June 1994
Date Updated:
July 1998
Encoded by:
Brooke Dykman Dockter
© 1998 California Institute of Technology. All rights reserved.

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

Container List



Box Box 1, Folder 1.1

Academy of Sciences, USSR 1983

Folder 1.2

Brack, André 1982-83

Folder 1.3

Caltech: Geology Division and misc. correspondence 1974-92

Folder 1.4

A-G misc. 1962-93

Folder 1.5

H-M misc. 1965-92

Folder 1.6

Newman, William A. 1990-93

Folder 1.7

N-R misc. 1978-93

Folder 1.8

Weiner, Steven 1982-93

Folder 1.9

S-Z misc. 1949-93 and unidentified



Box Box 1, Folder 1.10

Biographical miscellany and photos

Folder 1.11

Stephens, Mike: thesis (incomplete)

Folder 1.12

Writings on Nautilus and misc.

Folder 1.13

Travel expense reports 1990-91




Field Notebooks


1930s (10 notebooks):

Box Box 2, Folder 2.1

I. Kartierung des Nazarethgebirges [Mapping of the Nazareth Mountains] Winter 1935-36 Dec. 1935-[?]


II. Kartierung Nazarethgebirge, Mt. Tabor Winter 1935-36 13 Jan. 1936-[?]


III. Nazareth-Erheina (etc.) Winter 1935-36 7 Feb. 1936-[?]; with loose papers

Folder 2.2

I.-II.-III. [one notebook] 24 Dec. 1935-[?]


IV. [one notebook] 13 Jan. 1936-[?]


V. Palästina 1935/36 (Dead Sea, etc.; dated further 11 Mar.-4 Apr 1936)

Folder 2.3

VI. Palästina [Sejara?] (11 Apr.-3 Mar. 1936)


VII. Palästina: Jerusalem, Hebrew University (beg. 9 June 1936)


VIII. Palästina 1936 (beg. 30 June 1936, goes into July) [Untitled] (beg. 4 Mar. 1936)

Folder 2.4

1940s [one notebook]:


[Untitled] (beg. 31 Dec. 1941)

Folder 2.5

1950s [6 notebooks]:


Southwest Pacific Trip, May 21-July (1950)


(Southwest Pacific Trip?) Palau, June 15 [1950]


Travel to Europe and Africa (beg. 26 July 1950)


Florida, Dec. 26, 1951

Folder 2.6

Field Trip, Oct. 20, 1951


Corona del Mar, April 7, 1954; Florida May 20, 1954

Folder 2.7

1960s [3 notebooks]:


Barbados, Nov. 12-26, 1960


Barbados, River Bay, Feb. 19, 1967


Barbados, River Bay, Feb. 13-Mar 2, 1967

Folder 2.8

1970s [3 notebooks]:


Puget Sound, Aug. 1975


(Pacific region) Nov. 1976-Jan. 1977


Japan and Philippines 1977

Folder 2.9

Undated [2 notebooks]:


Notes for "Impact of Life"


(1940s?) Notes in English, referring to Bermuda and other places


Field trip guides and maps

Box Box 3, Folder 3.1

Baja California

Folder 3.2

Los Angeles

Folder 3.3

New York State

Folder 3.4

Washington State [map only]

Folder 3.5

White-Inyo Mountains, California

Folder 3.6

Notes, misc.