Lahee, Frederick Henry (1884–1968)

By: Kris Ercums

Type: Biography

Published: March 1, 1995

Frederick Henry Lahee, structural and petroleum geologist, was born on July 27, 1884, in Hingham, Massachusetts, the son of Henry Charles and Selina Ida May (Long) Lahee. He received his M.A. from Harvard in 1908 and his Ph.D. in 1911. Between 1906 and 1912 he served as instructor of geology at Harvard, Wellesley, and Radcliffe. In 1912 he meet Lucasta Karr Hodge, whom he married on December 23, 1912; they had four children. From 1912 to 1918 Lahee taught field geology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. There in 1916 he wrote Field Geology, often called the "geologist's bible." In 1918 Lahee left his teaching career to join the Sun Oil Company as a geologist for a new branch office in Dallas. By 1920 he had been appointed chief geologist, a position he held until 1947. He served as geological and research counselor until his retirement in 1955. While at Sun, Lahee was instrumental in the development of the measuring devices to determine hole deviation, which consequently spurred the formation of the Sperry-Sun Well Surveying Company. In 1945 Lahee served as chairman of the Committee for Exploratory Drilling of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. From data collected on wildcat drilling between 1945 and 1955, combined with his previous data from 1935 to 1945, Lahee formulated the systematic classification of drilling-hole size, which later came to be known as the "Lahee System." After retiring from Sun Oil Company he became an advisor to Petroleum Information of Denver.

Lahee was a member of the AAPG from 1919 until his death. From 1929 to 1932 he served as editor of the AAPG Bulletin and on several committees. He served as president of AAPG from 1932 to 1933. In 1947 he was made an honorary member, and in 1953 he was awarded the Sidney Powers Memorial Medal for his contributions to the field of geology. Lahee joined the American Petroleum Institute in 1936 and served as its chairman from 1946 to 1955. His service as chairman of the Committee on Oil Reserves of the American Petroleum Institute was noted twice with a certificate of appreciation, first in 1952 and second in 1955. In addition to his activities as a petroleum geologist, Lahee was also noted for his poetry writing, ballroom dancing, and ice skating. He died in Dallas on December 3, 1968.

Dallas Morning News, December 4, 1968. Robert E. Rettger, "Frederick Henry Lahee (1884–1968)," Bulletin of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists 53 (September 1969). Robert R. Shrock, Geology at M.I.T., 1865–1965 (2 vols., Cambridge: MIT Press, 1977). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
  • Oil and Gas Industry
  • Science
  • Geologists and Geophysicists
  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Kris Ercums, “Lahee, Frederick Henry,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 20, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

March 1, 1995

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