HISTORICAL SUMMARY OF THE
INTERNATIONAL GEOLOGICAL CONGRESS

The International Geological Congress (IGC), originally the International Congress of Geologists, was founded on August 25, 1876, at the 25th meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, held in Buffalo, New York, immediately after the 1876 “Centennial Exhibition of Philadelfia being the means of securing the attendance of foreign savants”. The Founding Committee later referred to as Philadelphia founding Committee was composed of participants from the USA and Canada, with the addition of three geologists from Sweden, The Netherlands, and UK. The alleged date of 1875 for the Founding Committee was a mistake introduced in the Compte Rendu of the Pretoria 1929 IGC (1930, p. xiv), the first written in English. This historical mistake was propagated in all subsequent IGC proceedings, including those for Washington 1933 and 1989. Since the mid 19thcentury, the need of holding international congresses was increasingly felt among the community of geologists in Europe and North America. As early as March 3, 1874, Giovanni Capellini wrote to the Italian Minister Finali “to invite the Directors of the Geological Institutes and the most distinguished geologists of the different nations to an International Congress to be held in Rome”, stressing “the importance for Geology of having a common language”. For details see an article by G.B. Vai on Episodes, December 2002, p. 248-254. The Founding Committee inquired the Geological Society of France on the organization of an international geological convention that was held on the occasion of the Paris Exposition in 1878 as the first IGC. The second was unanimously assigned to Bologna, Italy and to the organization of Capellini as a recognition of his early proposal. Since then, 32 IGCs have been held in 23 different countries of all continents at a 3 to 5 year interval. France, USA, Russia have hosted the Congress three times and Italy, UK, Mexico, Canada twice. A summary of the sessions and participation is given in the Table below. 

Founding Committee (1876) 

President: James Hall (USA)
Secretary: T. Sterry Hunt (Canada)
Members: William B. Rogers, J.W. Dawson, J.S. Newsberry,
C.H. Hitchcock, R. Pumpelly, J.P. Lesley (USA and Canada)

T.H. Huxley (UK), Otto Torell (Sweden), E.H. de Baumhauer (The Netherlands)