Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History
Hume, James David, 1923-1995
|James David Hume (1923-1995) was chair of the Department of Geology. His research on the geology of the Alaskan coast served as the foundation for interpretive investigation of modern Arctic shorelines andt hei analogues in the more widespread Arctic environments of the Pleistocene.
James David Hume was born in Fresno, California, December 17, 1923, near the family logging town of Hume. He grew up in Michigan. After graduating from West Point in 1945, he earned three degrees from the University of Michigan (B.S.E. in civil engineering, 1949; M.S., 1950; Ph. D., 1957). There he met his future wife and active partner, Patricia Wright, and married her in 1954. He taught at Purdue from 1955 to 1957. He then came to Tufts where he shared his love for the earth and the art and science of geology with his students. At the time, geology was a two-man department in the Barnum Museum. When the department moved to Lane Hall, he designed and equipped a first-class facility there.
His teaching style was low-key, but it was evident that he cared for his subject, the world he lived in, and above all, for his students. He was securely grounded in the classical foundations of geology and was aware of important new ideas, to which he consistently introduced his students. Thus he introduced the paradigm of plate tectonics soon after it emerged in the 1960, but not as a dogmatic preamble. In his course it was a capstone to an examination both of the evidence on which it is based and the variety of phenomena to which it provides a unifying theorem.
His methodical analyses of process, products, and form along the Arctic coast near Point Barrow, Alaska, through ten years stand almost alone in the literature of the western world. They serve as a baseline for interpretive investigations in both modern Arctic shorelines and their analogues in the more widespread Arctic environments of the Pleistocene.
In Londonderry, New Hampshire, he joined the Planning Board and ensured that land-use zoning was consistent with ground-water protection. He helped strengthen local efforts to manage development and minimize pollution at Pleasant Lake. He later worked with his wife on the reconstruction of past environments of archaeological sites she was investigating. He died in 1995.