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Alfred Church Lane Papers

Call Number: MS127

Scope and Contents

This collection includes biographical sketches and memorial materials, newspaper clippings, one manuscript by an anonymous, possibly German, author that is entitled "The Science of God" (which A. C. Lane attempted to get published in 1939 or 1940), personal and professional correspondence, and Alfred Church Lane's war records. The bulk of the material dates from 1920 to 1948 and was created in the context of Dr. Lane's activities as the Pearson Professor of Geology and Minerology at Tufts University (1909-1936). Correspondence is largely between Alfred Church Lane and Tufts President John Albert Cousens. Topics include Lane's refusal to take the Teacher's Oath as well as his status as a congregationalist.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1920 -- 1948
  • Creation: 1903 -- 1983


Language of Materials





This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Please see “Reproductions and Use” on the Digital Collections and Archives website for more information about reproductions and permission to publish. No documentation is available regarding the intellectual property rights in this collection.

Biographical / Historical

Alfred Church Lane was the Pearson Professor of Geology and Mineralogy from 1909-36 and recipient of the Ballou Medal. Best known for directing research on the determination of the age of the Earth, he is also known by some atomic scientists as the "Forgotten Man" of atomic research for his role in early work on splitting the atom.

A descendent of Thomas Dudley, a founder and four-time governor of the Massachusetts Bay colony, Lane was born on January 29, 1863, in Boston and attended Boston Latin High School. After graduating from Harvard in 1883, he remained at the institution as a mathematics instructor. From 1885 to 1887 he studied at the University of Heidelberg, returning to Harvard in 1888 in order to receive his doctorate. The following year he worked as petrographer of the Michigan State Geological Survey and as instructor in the Michigan College of Mines. He achieved the position of state geologist for Michigan before returning to the East Coast in 1909 to take up the position of Pearson Professor of Geology and Mineralogy at Tufts. He remained at the college until his resignation in 1936 protesting the state's teachers' oath. At the time he became Pearson Professor of Geology and Mineralogy Emeritus. In 1940, he received the Ballou Medal for distinguished service to education and the nation, awarded by Tufts College.

Working with Otto Hahn, a German scientist, Lane helped to inaugurate an international plan for the exchange of scientific information on smashing the atom in 1926. Lane was the first American to receive notice from Hahn about his successful splitting of a uranium atom in 1938 and immediately passed the information on to Washington. In 1929, Lane became the first consultant in science ever appointed to the Library of Congress. Over the course of his lifetime, he published 1087 articles and reports in both scientific and general journals. He was also a past president of the Geological Society of America and was affiliated with several international geologic and academic associations. He supported the YMCA and was a dedicated servant of the Boy Scouts of America. A peleochoric amphibole mineral, known as Lanenite, is named for the scientist.

Lane Hall, home to the Geology Department and former headquarters of the Bouve-Boston School of Occupational Therapy and Physical Education was dedicated in Lane's honor in 1968. There is also a memorial tablet in Goddard Chapel.

Lane died on April 14, 1948 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was survived by his wife and three children, including Fredric C. Lane, G1922.


0.5 Linear Feet (1 box)


This series is organized into one series.

Processing Information

The five folders were removed from the Vertical Files, and a distinct manuscript collection was created in September 2005. The material was processed by intern Drew Bourn, supervised by Susanne Belovari, fall 2005.

Processing status

This collection is processed.

Repository Details

Part of the Tufts Archival Research Center Repository

35 Professors Row
Tisch Library Building
Tufts University
Medford Massachusetts 02155 United States