Thomas E. Savage

1866 to 1947

Thomas E. SavageA University of Illinois faculty member for twenty-eight years, Savage was a researcher and mapper for the Illinois State Geological Survey for more than twenty summers. During that time he geologically mapped ten full quadrangles, covering more than 200 square miles.

Savage was born near Salem in southeastern Iowa. His advanced education was at Whittier College, Iowa Wesleyan, and the University of Iowa where he earned B.S. and M.S. degrees. He was a high school principal for two years and taught at Wesleyan College from 1899 to 1903. From 1903 to 1906, he was employed by the Iowa Geological Survey, serving as Assistant State Geologist and publishing several county reports on areal geology. In 1906, Savage joined the University of Illinois Geology Department while working on a Ph.D. degree from Yale, which he completed in 1909.

A scholarly, kind teacher, Savage taught courses in historical geology, paleontology, and stratigraphy. His contributions to Illinois stratigraphy were many and basic. He was the author of sixteen important stratigraphic units-among them the Kankakee, Edgewood, Sexton Creek, Joliet, Grassy Knob, Backbone, Dutch Creek, Lingle, and Alto Formations. In addition, he originally named the Alexandrian Series, which he described in detail in Geological Society of America Bulletin 24 (1913). Other important reports included "Geology and Mineral Resources of the Avon and Canton Quadrangles" and "Geology and Mineral Resources of Edgington and Milan Quadrangles, both in Survey Bulletin 38 (1921). When Survey Chief DeWolf took a leave of absence during World War I to work in Washington, DC, Savage, who held a joint appointment with the Survey and the University of Illinois, was designated as Acting Chief from 1917 to early 1919 when DeWolf returned.

In later years, Savage became interested in the relationship between evolution theory and religious faith. A true geological pioneer, he laid many foundations for Illinois paleontology and stratigraphy that have served successive generations of geologists.

Honored by: 
University of Illinois Department of Geology (Stephen Marshak, Chair)
Citation Contributed by: 
Charles W. Collinson