Professor/alumnus donates rare book & map to Purdue Calumet library

A Purdue University Calumet professor has donated two rare gifts to the Archives and Special Collections unit of the university’s library.

Professor of Human Resource Management John Lucas, also a Purdue Calumet alumnus, donated the first geological map of the United States composed in French and a book titled, “Geology of America.”

While working on his doctoral degree at Loyola University in Chicago, Lucas frequently utilized in his research the three-volume book set, “Opinions of Various Subjects Dedicated to the Industrious Producers.” The books were written by William Maclure, a former Pennsylvanian scholar, who, together with Robert Owens, developed the Indiana town of New Harmony in 1825.

The books triggered a fascination Lucas developed with Maclure’s vision for the future.

“I decided to purchase the three volumes for my collection,” Lucas said. “When they arrived, I had no idea there would be three maps inside.”

Purdue Calumet Professor and alumnus John Lucas (left) and university Chancellor Thomas Keon

One was the first geological map of the United States. At the time of the map’s origin, there were no mapmakers in the United States, according to Lucas. He added that France commanded the mapmaking market, which helps explain why the unique document’s markings are in French.

Believing that many scholars could benefit from this map, Lucas decided to make it available. Subsequently, the map was scanned, and his copy was placed in a glass case in the Purdue Calumet library.

Lucas’ acquisition of  “Geology of America,” occurred as he was searching for an original, three-volume set on economic theory. When he discovered the rare book to be in mint condition, he purchased it. After securing a special case for the book, Lucas presented the book and map to Purdue Calumet Chancellor Thomas Keon and library archivist Adam Carey.

“There are less than 200 of these books in the world; it is a rare find,” Carey said. “We appreciate John’s donation and his continual support of the library.”