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Ernst Julius Sommer,
who had been for many years connected with the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey died in Washington, November 12, 1923.

Mr. Sommer was born at Cannstatt, Germany, February 17, 1847; received a scholarship at the Polytechnic Institute at Stuttgartt, where he studied engineering from 1862-1867; came to the United States in 1869; and for 48 years was a member of the Government service. In 1870 he became a member of the expedition of Captain Shufeldt, United States Navy, which made a survey for a ship canal or ship railway across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Mexico; in 1873 he was topographer with the Wheeler survey under the United States Army engineers, which executed a survey in New Mexico and Colorado. For his work on both of these expeditions he received official commendation. He prepared the illustrations of the constellations which appeared in the first edition of the Century Dictionary and in collaboration with Professor Charles S. Peirce, made the mathematical computations necessary to prepare the drawings.

He was a member of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey from July 1, 1870, until his resignation in September 1918. During this time he was a cartographer, engaged on the construction of maps and charts. His principal work was a series of maps of southeastern Alaska along the disputed boundary line which was of great value to the Government in the settlement of the matter. He had a thorough knowledge of English, German, French, and Spanish. Upon the occasion of his resignation, due to ill health, he received letters from the Director of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey and from the Secretary of Commerce expressing their "appreciation of his devotion to duty during 48 years of efficient Government service, of the high-grade nautical chart work which had contributed in large measure to the safety of the ships of the Navy and Merchant Marine, and of his enviable record which was an inspiration to others and should be a never-failing source of satisfaction to himself."

Mr. Sommer's lifetime rule of conduct was "Strive not for place but for indwelling excellence." Until advancing age made active participation impossible, he was a member of the American Legion of Honor, the National Geographic Society, and the American Society of Civil Engineers. He had many friends in the survey who will regret to learn of his death.


C&GS BULLETIN, 11/1923


Publication of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NOAA Central Library.
Last Updated: June 8, 2006 9:27 AM

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