Ethel Dobbie Currie
, daughter of James Ferguson Currie and Elizabeth
Laughlan Allan , was born December 04, 1898 in Cathcart, Glasgow, Lanarkshire,
Scotland. She died March 24, 1963 in Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland.
Obituary Notice for Ethel D. Currie:
Ethel D. Currie, D.Sc., Ph.D., F.R.S.E., F.G.S., F.M.A.
- Ethel Dobbie Currie (1899-1963) dedicated her life to Geology, achieving
high eminence both in administration and in research. She matched her concern
for the well-being of her science with an altruism and an integrity that
allowed her to give unstintedly the greatest personal assisstance to fellow
geologists old and young, in furtherance of their work and in the use of
the collections submitted to her care
Her whole professional career was spent in the University of Glasgow.
She graduated under Professor J.W.Gregory in 1920, and after a short period
as Demonstrator in his department was appointed Assistant Curator of the
geological collections in the Hunterian Museum. There she had the onerous
tasks of bringing into order and cataloguing the minerals, rocks, and fossils
that, some going back to William Hunter's day, were the riches of nearly
two hundred years' accumulation, and that were rapidly increasing in number
as generations of students and researchers came and went. This office work,
laborious and never-ending, was in its nature less well known to the public
than it deserved to be; and visitors to the Museum were better acquainted
with her through the many exhibits she prepared to illustrate various aspects
of Geology, notably the intrsuctional show-cases in petrology, mineralogy,
and palaeontology, and in the illustration of evolutionary lines. In her
later years, with the expert technical help of Mr. F. Munro, she took a
special interest in the morphology and relations of fossil vertebrates: the
exhibits she prepared, illustrated by exquisitely constructed models in
supplement to actual fossils, are unique of their kind and are a witness
to the meticulous accuracy and the exhaustive thoroughness of her work. She
used the exhibits to effect in teaching and exposition that were not the
least of her contributions as a member to the University. Her aid was also
enlisted on innumerable occasions in providing information for a whole host
of visitors to the Museum, whom she was quickly concerned to make welcome.
Her long and devoted service was recognised by the University when she was
promoted to the grade of Senior Lecturer in 1960. She retired in 1962.
Her interests in research were palaeontological. In her early days she
described as opportunity offered, collections of fossils that came to the
Museum. These included numbers of sea-urchins from overseas, and she became
an authority on Mesozoic and Tertiary echinoids especially of Africa and
southern Asia, publishing descriptions of faunas from Cyprus, Somaliland,
Ethiopia, Kenya, Persia, Samaria, and Burma. She also described xiphosurs
from Lesmahagow, Mesozoic corals from Somaliland, and even collections of
rock specimens from the Silurian. Some of this work appeared in the first
volumes of Monographs of the HUnterian Museum, a series she helped Professor
Gregory to establish.
Later she extended her interests beyond morphology and the descriptions
and recording of genera and species; and in a sequence of papers on Promicroceras
and other Jurassic ammonites she illustrated morphogeny in cephalopods as
a process revealing the effects of differential growth rates and of ontogenetic
allometry. Her discernment and her technique enabled her to make notable
advances in palaeontological theory that in their turn were to serve her
in good stead when she began a comprehensive description of the Scottish
Carboniferous goniatites. This work, which turned out to be her magnum opus,
had its germs in an analysis of the fauna of Skipsey's Marine Band = a first
thorough study by the Society in
1937. It expanded into a detailed account of every known species and variety
- almost every informative specimen - of Scottish goniatite. The formidable
task was highly rewarding, for it resulted not only in an illuminating monograph
of fossil types but also in a version of Carboniferous stratigraphy of major
importance: Dr Currie for the first time not only gave precision to the
zonal sequence of the strata, but demonstrated the great gap in the Namurian
series, delineated Lower from Upper Carboniferous, and proved that the rocks
of the Calciferous Sandstone group in all their goniatitic horizons belong
to the Viséan stage. She finally rounded off her work on goniatites
by discussing, in her presidential address to the Society, ecology and habits
as revealed in different shapes of shell.
Dr. Currie sustained the Society with her support for many years; and
although she qwas modest to the point of diffidence her worth was recognised
in her repeated election to the Council. Her choice as Vice-President was
a natural sequence, and in 1952 she became the first woman President in
the hundred years of the Society's history. The Royal Society of Edinburgh
bestowed upon her a similar distinction when she became in 1949 one of the
first three women ever to be admitted to the Fellowship - and it also recognised
her ability and the outstanding quality of her work when it awarded her the
Neill Prize in 1945. (Source: T.N. George 1963 Transactions of the Geological
Society of Glasgow, vol XXV: p98-100)
Sources for Ethel Dobbie Currie:
- Birth record GROS, 560/00 0585Born at 11am
at 92 Seymour St., Crossmyloof, Cathcart.
- Deceased RSE Fellows 1783-2002,
- 1901 census, GROS 560/00 016/00 015James Currie
(Surveyor age 32) lives here with wife Elizabeth A. Currie (31), Raymond A.
Currie (3), and Ethel D. Currie (2) all born in Glasgow Lanarkshire.
- Obituary, 98"She graduated under Professor J. W.
George in 1920, and after a short period as Demonstrator in his department
was appointed Assistant Curator of the geological collections in the Hunterian
Museum..... She retired in 1962."