Hidden in plain sight: Overlooked evidence concerning James Croll (1821-1890)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Three new pieces of evidence concerning James Croll, the nineteenth century Scottish autodidact and climate change pioneer are revealed. These untold facets became apparent as a result of pursuing evidence further than might have seemed warranted, and comprise: (1) Croll’s short-lived attempt to become a publisher; (2) appointment to a janitorial position at Anderson’s University and Museum in Glasgow a year later than claimed by himself and repeated by subsequent commentators; (3) the enigma of why letters from Joseph Dalton Hooker to Croll were copied onto notepaper headed Montreal Cottage in Perth, Scotland (the town in which Croll lived), and the identification of John Bower, a retired fleet-surgeon and friend of Croll, as the copyist. It is argued that the findings were hidden in plain sight, are not trivial, and shed light on the biography of a relatively neglected individual.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160–173.
Number of pages14
JournalEarth Sciences History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

It is a pleasure to thank the following for information, permissions and assistance: Andersonian Library, Archives and Special Collections, University of Strathclyde (Anne Cameron); British Geological Survey, Keyworth (Andrew L. Morrison); British Library (Western Manuscripts); Christie’s Auctioneers, London;
Haslemere Educational Museum, Sir Archibald Geikie Archive (Robert Neller); The National Archives, Kew (Paul Johnson); The National Library of Australia, Canberra (Yili Zhou); University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Adam Doskey and Ana Rodríguez); Archives and Special Collections, Amherst College, Massachusetts (Margaret R. Dakin). Nicolaas Rupke and Patricia Fara are thanked for their encouragement, while Tom Sharpe and an anonymous reviewer provided valuable comments on an earlier draft of the paper.


  • James Croll
  • Joseph Dalton Hooker
  • John Bower
  • historiography
  • Anderson's University
  • Great Britain


Dive into the research topics of 'Hidden in plain sight: Overlooked evidence concerning James Croll (1821-1890)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this