Class of 1832
The chief American invertebrate paleontologist of his era, James Hall is considered among the great American scientists of the 19th century.
He was appointed, through Stephen Van Rensselaer’s influence, to a position on the geological survey of New York state. He produced a report in 1843 that became a classic in geological literature. It was said that but for him, the geological history of the North American continent could not have been written. He established surveys in several states and was named New York state geologist in 1893, a position created especially for him.
Hall was a founder of the American Association of Geologists (the predecessor of the American Association for the Advancement of Science) and the International Congress of Geologists. He served as the first president of the Rensselaer Association of Graduates, the forerunner of the Rensselaer Alumni Association.