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noaa legacy timeline 1807-1899

1807 - 1899 | 1900 - 1969 | 1970 - 2000

1807 - Survey of the Coast established by President Thomas Jefferson. This was to become America’s first physical science agency. Ferdinand Hassler’s plan, based on scientific principles, was selected by Government as the best of many presented. Hassler, later selected to be Superintendent of the Coast Survey, imbues the organization with standards of accuracy, precision, and integrity.

1811-1815 - Ferdinand Hassler procures books and instruments for the United States Survey of the Coast.

1814 - Surgeon General orders surgeons to keep weather diaries; first government collection of weather data.

1816 - First field work accomplished by the United States Survey of the Coast.

1832 - An Office of Weights and Measures, the forerunner of the National Institute of Standards and Technology is formed under the U.S. Coast Survey.

1836 - Survey of the Coast renamed to U.S. Coast Survey.

1842 - James P. Espy appointed first official U.S. Government meteorologist.

1843 - Ferdinand Hassler, Superintendent of the Coast Survey, and America’s first professional full-time scientist, passes away. Alexander Dallas Bache, a great grandson of Benjamin Franklin, is appointed second Superintendent of the Coast Survey

1845 - U.S. Coast Survey begins systematic studies of Gulf Stream, first systematic oceanographic project for studying a specific phenomenon commenced by any government or organization. Physical oceanography, geological oceanography, biological oceanography,and chemical oceanography of the Gulf Stream and its environs were covered in the initial orders serving as a model for all subsequent integrated oceanographic cruises.

1847 - Naturalist Louis Agassiz sails on Coast Survey Steamer BIBB to study fish and fauna of offshore New England area.

1848 - Volunteer Weather Observers recruited through the Smithsonian Institution.

1849 - Smithsonian Institution supplies weather instruments to telegraph companies and establishes extensive weather observation network.

1851 - U. S. Coast Survey commissions Louis Agassiz to conduct first scientific study of the Florida Reef system.

1853 - First Tide Prediction Tables published.

1854 - United States Coast Survey begins using self-recording tide gages. One installed at San Francisco has begun the longest continuous series of tide observations in the Western Hemisphere.

1854-1855 - James McNeill Whistler employed by the U.S. Coast Survey as
an engraver.

1861-65 - United States Coast Survey serves with Union Army and Navy in all theaters of the Civil War and with all major commanders. Coast Surveyors served as hydrographers, topographers, and scouts oftentimes in advance of the front lines. In the Army, Coast Surveyors were given assimilated military rank while attached to a specific command.

1870 - President Ulysses S. Grant signs a bill passed by Congress to establish a national weather warning service under the Secretary of War. The weather service was established within the Army Signal Corps.

1871 - President Ulysses S. Grant signs a bill authorizing America’s first conservation agency, the U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries (COF); administratively it is placed under the Smithsonian Institution. The Army Signal Service published the first daily weather maps, a series that has continued up to the present day. Ulysses S. Grant signs a bill authorizing the Coast Survey to carry geodetic surveys into the interior of the United States and begins the continent-spanning survey of the 39th Parallel.

1872 - Fur seal research begins on Pribilof Islands under Treasury Department - marks beginnings of U.S. marine mammal studies and protection. Publication of Monthly Weather Review begun by Army Signal Service. Fish culture begins at Baird Station on McCloud River near Mt. Shasta, California.

1873 - The Commission of Fish and Fisheries utilizes the Coast Survey steamer BACHE for first deep water sampling and dredging cruises. This cooperative relationship continued for many years until the Fisheries Service obtained its own deep water steamers.

1874-1878 - Many major innovations made on Coast and Geodetic Survey Steamer BLAKE including Sigsbee sounding machine and use of steel cable for oceanographic operations. The BLAKE also pioneered deep ocean anchoring during Gulf Stream studies and was perhaps the most innovative oceanographic vessel of the Nineteenth Century.

1875 - Permanent fisheries laboratory structure erected at Woods Hole, Massachusetts, although all modern facilities not completed until 1885.

1874-1877 - The great naturalist John Muir employed as guide and artist by Coast Survey on Survey of the 39th Parallel across the Great Basin of Nevada and Utah.

1878 - U.S. Coast Survey name changed to U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey to reflect role of geodesy and earlier authorization to conduct geodetic surveys in the interior of the United States.

1882 - U.S.S. ALBATROSS launched - first government research vessel built exclusively for fisheries and oceanographic research; first volume of the Bulletin of the United States Fish Commission is published, a publication which is continued today as the Fishery Bulletin.

1885 - Wood Hole, MA, first purpose-built marine fisheries research lab. Coast and Geodetic Survey Ship BLAKE pioneers deepsea anchoring. Anchors in up to 2200 fathoms during classic Gulf Stream studies.

1888 - U.S. Fish Commission established as independent agency of the Federal Government.

1890 - Cooperative Weather Observer Network established, a system that now has over 11,000 observers nationwide.

1891 - Congress transfers weather service from Army Signal Corps to Department of Agriculture; a civilian weather service, termed the United States Weather Bureau begins.

1893 - U.S. Fish Commission becomes responsible for northern fur seal research. Sea Islands Hurricane devastates African-American Communities on Sea Islands between Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia, killing approximately 2,000 people (Clara Barton placed total between 4,000-5,000) on August 28. On October 2 the Cheniere Caminada Hurricane occurred striking the Louisiana coast and killing another 2,000. These two storms account for the second worst hurricane casualty year on record.

1898 - Weather Bureau begins regular kite observations for studying
upper-air ; last flight made in 1933. Weather Bureau begins hurricane warning network.

1899 - Coast and Geodetic Survey opens field office in Seattle, WA, to support ships and survey field expeditions; future Pacific Marine

Publication of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NOAA Central Library.

Last Updated: June 8, 2006 9:24 AM

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