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Special Collections and University Archives

Finding Aid

Bruce C. Heezen Papers
RG 99.0085
Collection Dates: 1938-2000
4.5 linear ft.

Access and Restrictions: This collection is open for research.

Digital Surrogates: Except where indicated, this document describes but does not reproduce the actual text, images and objects which make up this collection. Materials are available only in the Special Collections Department.

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Acquisition and Processing Information: These materials were donated to the University Archives by Marilyn Jackson in September 2000. The folder, "Esther (Shirding) Heezen Dauch," was donated as Accession 2010-118 by Helen Kotler. Finding aid created February 2008.

Photographs: Box 1; Box 2

Bruce C. Heezen

Bruce C. Heezen

Scope and Contents

The Bruce C. Heezen papers include correspondence, clippings, maps and photographs that document the career of Mr. Heezen as an oceanographer at the Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory of Columbia University in Palisades, New York.  One VHS tape documents the christening ceremony of the USNS Bruce C. Heezen. Correspondence from Marie Tharp, a colleague of Mr. Heezen, includes a list of every research cruise of Mr. Heezen between 1947 and 1977.  Maps created by Mr. Heezen are located at the Smithsonian Institution Archives, as well as material documenting his faculty research at Columbia.  Marie Tharp donated 40,000 maps to the Library of Congress in 1995.

Biographical Note

Bruce C. Heezen was born April 11, 1924 in Vinton, Iowa, to Charles C. and Esther (Schirding) Heezen.  When he was six years old his family moved to Muscatine, Iowa.  Mr. Heezen graduated from Muscatine High School in 1942.


He attended the State University of Iowa and received his B.A. degree in geology in 1948.  While attending S.U.I., he was influenced to study oceanography by Professor Maurice Ewing, a lecturer from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.  Heezen took his M.S. and Ph.D. at Columbia University in 1952 and 1957, where he studied under Mr. Ewing.  He was associate professor of geology and an oceanographer at the Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory of Columbia University from 1949 until his death on June 21, 1977.  His discovery of the central rift valley in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge while leading a team of Columbia University researchers advanced the knowledge of plate tectonics.

Dr. Heezen and his colleagues, Marie Tharp and Maurice Ewing, created their first map of the ocean floor in 1957.  Their physiographic maps appeared in National Geographic and featured the Indian Ocean (1967), Atlantic Ocean (1968), and the Pacific Ocean (1969).  They also mapped the world ocean floor, which was published by the U.S. Navy in 1977.  The U.S. Navy named an oceanographic survey ship after Dr. Heezen in 1999.

[D. Anderson; 02/2008]

Related Materials

Folder, "Heezen, Bruce C.," Alumni and Former Students Vertical Files collection (RG 01.15.01)

Jackson, Marilyn. “He Explored the Mountains of the Sea.“ Iowan 29, no. 3 (March 15,1981):14-17; 52-53

Box Contents List

Box 1

Muscatine High School Hall of Honor

---. Plaque, 1998

---. Program, 2000


---. Color photocopy of a school photograph, ca. 1938

---. Black and white photographs

------. Heezen portrait, n.d.

------. Heezen and Captain Henry Kohler inspecting a dredge haul in the Pacific, 1977

------. Photograph of drawing of Dr. Heezen by Heinrich Berann, 1971

------. Photograph of drawing of Marie Tharp by Heinrich Berann, 1972

------. Marie Tharp with physiographic map, 1978

------. Marie Tharp and Dr. Heezen charting a map, n.d.

------. Maurice Ewing and Dr. Heezen working on a project, n.d.

------. Heezen, Roger Revell, and Dr. Maurice Ewing aboard a research vessel in New York, 1959

------. Heezen in his office at Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory, n.d.


Marie Tharp

Marilyn Jackson article drafts

Esther (Schirding) Heezen Dauch

Bruce Heezen background material


---. Glenn Cray, 1980

---. Esther Christine (Schirding) Heezen Dauch, 1980-2000

---. Lamont-Doherty, 1986

---. Charles Hollister, Iowan article, 1980

---. Marie Tharp, 1980; 2000

Robert Ballard clippings, 1999-2000

USNS Bruce C. Heezen christening ceremonies, March 29, 1999

---. VHS tape

---. Clippings

---. Program and ceremony details

Box 2


---. Deep Sea topography with indications of mineral deposits, 44 x 76, 1978

---. World Ocean Floor, 24 x 38, 1977

Photographs of art

---. Photograph of artist's portrait of Dr. Heezen in color pastels, ca. 1961

---. Photographs of artist's portrait of Dr. Heezen in pen, n.d.

---. Heezen at Piermont dock, between 1962 and 1977

---. Heezen color portrait, ca. 1940

---. Photograph of drawing of Dr. Heezen by Heinrich Berann, 1971


---. "Name This Ship!" color, 1997

---. "The Exploration Continues: USNS Bruce C. Heezen" black and white line drawing, n.d.