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LONSDALE, JOHN TIPTON (1895–1960). John Tipton (J. T.) Lonsdale, geologist, son of John Dye and Eva Mary (Connor) Lonsdale, was born in Dale, Iowa, on November 8, 1895. He attended local elementary schools and Guthrie Center High School before entering the University of Iowa, where he graduated in 1917 with a B.A. and in 1921 with an M.S. That year he married Edna Gertrude Van Arnam, and the couple moved to Virginia. Lonsdale accepted a position as assistant professor of geology at the University of Virginia and as a geologist for the Virginia Geological Survey. He also attended classes and obtained a Ph.D. in geology. In 1924 he moved to the University of Oklahoma, Norman, as an assistant professor of geology and served on the staff of the Oklahoma Geological Survey. The next year he joined the University of Texas Bureau of Economic Geology. In 1928 Lonsdale became head of the geology department at the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (now Texas A&M University), and after eight years accepted the chairmanship of the Idaho State College geology department. During World War II he served in the United States Army as a lieutenant colonel and then as a colonel. Immediately after the war he moved to Austin to become director of the UT Bureau of Economic Geology.

As a specialist in groundwater resources and Big Bend National Park geology, he began investigations into Texas resources, their protection, and their uses. Under his direction the bureau research program developed methods to utilize the state's minerals and thus improve the economy. It also conducted extensive mapping of ten Texas counties and their nonmetallic resources. During his tenure at the University of Texas, Lonsdale produced more than forty publications and was a popular speaker and professor. In 1947 he was appointed to the research committee of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists and was a member of the Geological Society of America, the Mineralogical Society of America, the American Institution of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He also belonged to Sigma Xi, Gamma Alpha, and Sigma Gamma Epsilon. He suffered a heart attack and died at home in Austin on October 5, 1960. He was still serving as bureau director and had remained active in the Austin Rotary Club and the UT geology department budget council.


Alcalde (magazine of the Ex-Students' Association of the University of Texas), December 1960. Who's Who in America, 1958–59.

Vista K. McCroskey


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

Vista K. McCroskey, "LONSDALE, JOHN TIPTON," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed November 25, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.