Hutchins Library
Special Collections & Archives
Guide to the Willard Rouse Jillson Papers

Accession Number: 19
Willard Rouse Jillson Papers, 1921-1969
Bulk Dates 1957-1975
18.75 linear feet
Online Catalog Record (BANC)

Overview & Series Description
Series 1 - Life and Works
Series 2 - Geology - Subject Files
Series 3 - Geology - Sketch Maps
Series 4 - Maps - Kentucky Counties and Related Areas
Series 5 - Maps - Historical
Series 6 - General History
Series 7 - Other Countries
Series 8 - Photographs
Series 9 - Pamphlets
Part II - Writings

Overview of the Collection

These are correspondence, maps, photographs and published works of Willard Rouse Jillson (1890-1975) who served as Kentucky State Geologist from 1919 to 1932. Dr. Jillson was also an avid historian and naturalist with wide ranging interests in Kentucky history. In addition to numerous Geological works, he published widely in such fields as paleontology, regional history, bibliography, and biography.

Material of particular interest in this collection are a nearly complete set of Kentucky county survey maps executed while Jillson was State Geologist and over 2000 photographs that document Kentucky's geography and culture as well geological features. Additionally there are manuscripts and published copies of several of his many publications including Geography of Kentucky and Oil and Gas Resources of Kentucky.

Jillson was born May 28, 1890, in Syracuse, New York where as a youth he was greatly interested in natural science, geography, and travel. His undergraduate degree (Syracuse 1912) was followed by a Masters at the University of Washington (State) in 1915 and further studies at the University of Chicago and Yale. He was awarded honorary doctorates by Syracuse University in 1921 and Berea College, 1925. After working as a petroleum geologist in the South and West, he came to Kentucky in 1917 where he proceeded to amass a fortune dealing in oil, gas and coal leases. It was also at this time that he married Oriole Marie Gormley of Prestonsburg, Floyd County, Kentucky.

In 1919, Governor A. O. Stanley appointed Jillson as the State Geologist for the Department of Geology and Forestry. This Department was later reorganized with the Geology section becoming the Kentucky Geological Survey. A major achievement of Jillson's administration was the publishing of at least one map for each of Kentucky's 120 counties, an effort that contributed greatly to the rapid exploitation of the state's coal and gas resources. Additional endeavors included teaching Geology at the University of Kentucky, serving as curator of the Kentucky State Museum, and membership on the Kentucky's State Park Commission (chairman 1924-1928) during which time the first four Kentucky state parks were established.

After Jillson's 1932 resignation from state service he continued to write extensively, work as a consultant for coal, oil, and gas companies, and teach Geology at Transylvania University (1947-1951). After leaving Transylvania he devoted much time to the acquisition and development of Kentucky gas and coal properties. He died at the age 85 in Louisville, Kentucky, October 4, 1975.

Series Description
66 Manuscript Boxes

Series I Life and Works Boxes 1-2

This series includes correspondence, citations, publications, Syracuse University-related information, news clippings, and bibliographies.

Series II Geology - Subject Files Boxes 3-14

This series includes correspondence, sketch and published maps, consultants' reports, publications, and photographs, much of which originated during Jillson's tenure as was Kentucky State Geologist.

Series III Geology - Sketch Maps Box 15

This series includes topographical, stratigraphical, and geological maps dating mostly from the late teens and twenties. Mineral subjects include oil, gas, asphalt, graphite, fluorspar, and sandstone.

Series IV Maps - Kentucky Counties and Related Areas Boxes 16-25

This series includes mostly published county, city, quadrangle and other area maps dating variously from the 1920s through the 1950s.

Series V Maps - Historical Boxes 26-30

This series documents Kentucky places important to state and national history and also includes related correspondence, photocopies, manuscripts, and publications.

Series VI General History Boxes 31-35

This series consists of an extensive collection of correspondence, articles, and research notes related to a wide variety of Kentucky and other subjects.

Series VII Other Countries Box 36

This series consists mostly of 1920s newspaper and magazine clippings of mostly European social-political commentaries and travel accounts.

Series VIII Photographs Boxes 37-45

Subject areas include personal-family, Kentucky geology, counties, towns, agriculture, and landscapes.

Series IX Pamphlets Box 46

Jillson written pamphlets on geological topics.

Part II Writings Boxes 47-66

These materials were originally held by Syracuse University but were deaccessioned by that institution and donated to Berea College in 1994.They were added to Berea's Jillson collection in August 2000.They consist mainly of Jillson's correspondence with the Syracuse Archives and typescripts of many of his published works.

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