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Carl Tolman Personal Papers

Identifier: WUA-03-wua00501

The Carl Tolman Personal Papers includes correspondence related to Tolman’s work developing sources for mineral supplies during World War II; personal materials including biographical information, clippings, identification cards, notebooks, notes, passports, and photographs; and a large section of objects including pins, rulers, letter openers, scissors, and more.


  • 1934-1980

Conditions Governing Access


Conditions Governing Use

Users of the collection must read and agree to abide by the rules and procedures set forth in the Materials Use Policies.

Providing access to materials does not constitute permission to publish or otherwise authorize use. All publication not covered by fair use or other exceptions is restricted to those who have permission of the copyright holder, which may or may not be Washington University.

If you wish to publish or license Special Collections materials, please contact Special Collections to inquire about copyright status at (314) 935-5495 or (Publish means quotation in whole or in part in seminar or term papers, theses or dissertations, journal articles, monographs, books, digital forms, photographs, images, dramatic presentations, transcriptions, or any other form prepared for a limited or general public.)


1.50 linear feet

3 boxes

Biographical Information

Carl Tolman was born in 1897 to American parents in the Northwest Territories of Canada and served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in World War I.

Serving on the Western Front, he was badly injured, taken prisoner by Germany in 1917, and not repatriated until after the war.

When he finally returned home he earned a bachelor’s degree in geology from the University of British Columbia and a master’s degree in science and a PhD in geology, both from Yale. Before joining Washington University in 1927 as assistant professor of geology, he was involved in geological explorations, detailed geographical mapping, and mineral deposit explorations with the Geological Survey of Canada. During World War II, he took a leave of absence from the university to serve as a mineral specialist with the Foreign Economic Administration in Washington, D.C.

He was associated with the university for 68 years, serving as assistant, associate and full professor of geology, chair of the department, dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, vice chancellor–dean of faculties and chancellor. During his one-year stewardship as chancellor before mandatory retirement, he steered the course through a time of transition and along the way reduced the university’s debt from $1.5 million to $30,000.

After retiring from the university, he took a position with the U.S. State Department as science attaché to Tokyo and later managed a program to train mining engineers in the Philippines and helped establish a graduate program in economic geology at the University of the Philippines.

He died in St. Louis in 1995 at age 97. Chancellor William H. Danforth said at the time of Tolman’s death, “Carl Tolman was for 68 years one of the great people at Washington University. As a friend, as a faculty member, and as an academic leader, he was always farsighted and wise and kind and gentle.”


Series 1. Correspondence

Series 2. Personal Materials

Series 3. Objects

Source of Acquisition

Accession number WUA2019-092. Transferred from Clara McLeod, Washington University in St. Louis, Earth and Planetary Sciences Librarian, July 2019.

Processing Information

Processed by Sarah Schnuriger in March 2020.

Carl Tolman Personal Papers
Description rules
Language of description

Revision Statements

  • 2021 May 28: Resource record updated in ArchiveSpace by Sarah Schnuriger.

Collecting Area Details

Part of the University Archives Collecting Area

Sonya Rooney
Olin Library, 1 Brookings Drive
MSC 1061-141-B
St. Louis MO 63130 US
(314) 935-5495