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Guide to the Francis Baker Laney Papers ; Laney (Francis Baker) Papers

Francis Baker Laney Papers, 1867-1938

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Guide to the Francis Baker Laney Papers 1867-1938

Sponsor: Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Overview of the Collection

Title: Francis Baker Laney Papers, 1867-1938
Creator: Francis Baker Laney, 1875-1938
Dates: 1867-1938
Quantity: 2 cubic feet1 box
Abstract: Correspondence of Dr. and Mrs. Laney, materials collected by Laney, including letters to J.R. DeLamar regarding mining in Silver City, Idaho, and letters to geologists J.W. Finch, W.C. Kerr, F.A. Thomson, and L.F. Ward, memorabilia dating from 1893-1928, and over 800 photographic negatives relating to World War I and European travel. Also included is a scrapbook, 1927-1938, compiled by Laney's son, F.T. Laney, a University of Idaho student.
Identification: MG 2
Language: English
Repository: University of Idaho Library Special Collections and Archives
850 Rayburn St.
P.O. Box 442351
Moscow, ID 83844-2351
(208) 885-7951

Arrangement and Description

The papers in the three accessions of Laney material were combined and rearranged to form fewer and broader series.The first series contains the original inventories for MG 2 and MG 153.The second series contains correspondence of both Francis and Minnie Laney, and invoices. The correspondence of Francis Laney spans the years 1902 to 1938, with the bulk of the letters being between 1910 and 1913. Arrangement is alphabetical by last name of correspondent. A majority of the letters are incoming, with an occasional carbon copy of an outgoing letter included. Most are concerned with geological surveys and field work in North Carolina and Virginia, although a couple of letters contain employment offers. Mrs. Laney's correspondence includes material concerning the Daughters of the American Revolution of which she was state regent, letters germane to the operation of schools in Moscow, Idaho, while she was a member of the school board (1926-1933), some miscellaneous correspondence including a letter from J. Edgar Hoover, and letters of condolence received after her husband's death in 1938. The invoices are for the years 1937 to 1938 and are arranged alphabetically by store.The third series contains material related to geology. The first items are Geological Survey reports 1-21; Laney wrote numbers 12, 19, 20, and 21. Other items include Laney's 1908 doctoral thesis and letters to other geologists which he collected. The letters to Joseph R. DeLamar of Silver City, Idaho, were written by Christian and Louis Wahl of Chicago in 1886 and 1887 and concern mining in the Silver City area. These were discovered in Silver City by Dr. Laney. John Wellington Finch was a consulting geologist, a widely recognized authority on the mining regions of the world, and a former investigator of fraudulent mining promotions for the U.S. Department of Justice. In 1930 he was appointed Dean of the School of Mines at the University of Idaho; in 1934 he resigned that position to become Director of the U.S. Bureau of Mines. W.C. Kerr was, in 1880, the North Carolina State Geologist; in 1882 he was the geologist in charge of the Southern Appalachian Division of the United States Geological Survey. An outstanding mining authority, Francis A. Thomson was Dean of the University of Idaho School of Mines from 1917 to 1928 when he resigned to become president of the Montana School of Mines in Butte. In 1919 he was instrumental in the creation of the Idaho Bureau of Mines and Geology. Lester F. Ward was associated with both the USGS and the Smithsonian Institution.Memorabilia and photographic negatives, originally MG 153, make up the fourth series. Included are a miscellaneous collection of baggage tags, items on the George Washington Bicentennial, liquor bottle labels, National Recovery Act emblems, old prohibition literature, seals and trademarks, and worlds fair memorabilia dating from 1983 to 1928. Also included are over 800 photographic negatives of Europe and World War I.The final series is a scrapbook kept by Laney's son, Francis Towner Laney. It includes report cards, programs from high school events, sports tickets, newspaper clippings, and material relating to DeMolay. From his years at the University of Idaho he kept several handbooks, programs, grades, sports notes, R.O.T.C. material, restaurant menus and signed napkins, plus graduation programs. After graduating from the university in 1935 he entered Kinman Business University in Spokane and included menus, theater ticket stubs, letters, and post cards among the memorabilia of this period.

Scope and Content

The papers of Francis Baker Laney span the years 1867-1938, with the bulk of the material covering the years 1902-1938. Included are correspondence of both Francis and Minnie Laney; geological material including USGS reports, several written by Laney; his doctoral thesis; and letters of other geologists. Memorabilia, photographic negatives, and a scrapbook of Francis Towner Laney are also included.

Administrative/Biographical History

Francis Baker Laney was born near Springfield, Missouri, on April 9, 1875, the son of John Baker and Jane (Alexander) Laney. Early in life he served as an apprentice cabinet maker, and even after obtaining his degree in geology he continued his interest by collecting rare masterpieces of cabinet work and old rare woods.

Laney received his B.S. degree from Drury College, Springfield, Missouri, in 1902, his M.A. from the University of Wisconsin in 1905, and his Ph.D. in geology from Yale University in 1908. In September 1910 he married Minnie D. Towner of Milan, Pennsylvania; they had one son, Francis Towner.

Dr. Laney began his career in geology in 1903 as an assistant geologist in North Carolina. During the 1905/06 school year he was associated with the geography department at the University of California, Berkeley. From 1908-1910 he was the assistant curator of the applied geology division of the National Museum, Washington, D.C. In 1914 he began work with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS); at the same time he was a microscopist and mineralogist for the U.S. Bureau of Mines where he worked until 1919. It was while working as a metalographist for the Central Checking Laboratory of the Ordnance Department of the U.S. Army in Pittsburgh from 1917 to 1918 that he made analyses of prematurely exploded shells and developed a more efficient jacket for bullets.

In September 1920, while working on a joint USGS-Idaho Bureau of Mines project in the Seven Devils area of Idaho, he was appointed to the staff of the University of Idaho, Moscow, as head of the Geology Department, a position he held until his death 18 years later. On Sunday, April 24, 1938, Francis Laney suffered a fatal heart attack while working in his garden


This collection is indexed under the following headings in the online catalog. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.

Colleges and Universities
Mines and Mineral Resources

Professor of geology, University of Idaho, 1920-1938

DeLamar, Joseph R.
Finch, John Wellington, b. 1873
Kerr, W. C.
Laney, Francis Baker, 1875-1938 -- Archives.
Laney, Francis Towner
Laney, Minnie D. Towner
Thomson, Francis Andrew, b. 1879.
Ward, Lester F.

University of Idaho -- History

Europe -- Description and travel -- Photographs
Geologists -- Idaho
Mines and mineral resources -- Idaho -- Silver City
World War, 1914-1918 -- Photographs

Administrative Information

Processing Information

The papers of Francis B. Laney were first processed in May 1980 by Judith Nielsen, and were assigned to Manuscript Group 2 (Mg 2). In May 1984 Margaret Walker donated memorabilia and photographs belonging to Laney to the University of Idaho library; these were processed as MG 153 in September 1989. Thirty seven pieces of Laney correspondence were added to the original manuscript collection from the vertical file in 1986. In November 1993 Ms. Nielsen combined these two groups and reprocessed them using the original MG 2 designation.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series I. Inventories 1980-1989
1/11/1Inventories 1980-1989 2 items
Series II. Correspondence 1902-1938
A. Francis B. Laney 1902-1938
1/21/2Inventories 1902-1909 84 items
1/31/3Inventories 1910-1911 65 items
1/41/4Inventories 1912 92 items
1/51/5Inventories 1913-1914 26 items
1/61/6Inventories 1918-1929 13 items
1/71/7Inventories 1932-1938 19 items
B. Minnie Laney 1926-1938
1/81/8Inventories 1926-1937 24 items
1/91/9Condolences 1938 6 items
1/101/10Personal invoices 1937-1938 63 items
Series III. Geological Material 1867-1930
A. USGS Reports 1911-1912
1/11-131/11-13United States Geological Survey reports, 1-21 1911-1912 21 items
B. Doctoral Thesis and Other Items 1904-1918
1/141/14Laney, Francis Baker. "The Gold Hill Mining District of North Carolina," thesis 1908 1 item
1/151/15Miscellaneous geological material 1904-1918 16 items
C. Letters of Other Geologists 1867-1930
1/161/16DeLamar, Joseph R. 1880-1889 88 items
1/171/17Finch, John Wellington 1921-1930 17 items
1/181/18Kerr, W.C. 1867-1884 64 items
1/191/19Thomson, Francis A. 1917-1921 11 items
1/201/20Ward, Lester F. 1889-1898 26 items
1/211/21Miscellaneous correspondence 1885-1918 11 items
Series IV. Memorabilia and photographs 1879-1934
A. Memorabilia 1879-1934
1/221/22Advertisements and advertising tags undated 18 items
1/231/23Baggage tags undated 3 items
1/241/24Bookplates undated 2 items
1/251/25China 1933 1 item
1/261/26Early printing 1879-1912 25 items
1/271/27George Washington Bicentennial 1932 2 items
1/281/28Handbills in card form 1926-1933 43 items
1/291/29Hotel and theater literature 1932-1933 9 items
1/301/30Liquor bottle labels undated 20 items
1/311/31National Recovery Act emblems 1933-1934 123 items
1/321/32Olympic games 1932 3 items
1/331/33Patriotic material before World War 1898-1901 3 items
1/341/34Political campaign material 1932 10 items
1/351/35Old prohibition literature 1904-1932 5 items
1/361/36Profit sharing and guarantee coupons undated 26 items
1/371/37Ribbons (prize and event) 1916-1931 14 items
1/381/38Seals and trademarks undated 248 items
1/391/39Stamps undated 6 items
1/401/40World War 1917-1919 42 items
1/411/41Worlds Fairs prior to 1933 1893-1923 8 items
1/421/42IWW and red material 1900-1928 8 items
B. Photographic Negatives 1917-1925
1/431/43Austria, Belgium, Canada, England, France, Germany ca. 1921-1925 162 items
1/441/44Holland, Italy, Black Hills, Cambridge, Washington, D.C., Mt. Washington ca. 1921-1925 125 items
1/451/45Unidentified ca. 1921-1925 158 items
1/461/46World War, United States and France 1917-1919 397 items
1/471/47Howard passport photo undated 1 item
Series V. Scrapbook 1927-1938
1/481/48Souvenirs of the life, travels, trials, tribulations, & good times of Francis T. Laney 1927-1938 1 item

Profile Description

Creation: Encoded by ArchProteus2003
Language: Finding aid is in English

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