Fielding Bradford Meek

Fielding Bradford Meek was born on December 10, 1817 in Madison, Indiana.  Meek began to lose his hearing when he was a child.  It became worse and worse until he was deaf.  He never learned sign language or how to read lips.  Communicating was very hard.  


Cretaceous fossil drawings

Picture Courtesy of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Meek worked as a portrait painter before he became a geologist.    His first job in geology was working as an assistant in the U.S. Geological Survey of Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.  His bosses liked him because he could draw very well.  He worked on many different projects.  One of the things he studied was Cretaceous fossils.  He wrote reports about what he found and other scientists liked his writing.

Meek went on a trip in the spring of 1853.  He traveled over 6000 miles. Sometimes it was very hard, but he saw interesting things too.  Meek would make a fire in the woods.  Since bugs are attracted to light they would come to the light.  Then he would capture them to study.  He also collected plants to study.  During his trip he met many Native Americans.  He wrote about them in his journal.

Native American Tipi

Picture Courtesy of the University of Texas

Meek lived in this building

Picture Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution Archives

The Arctic

Photo Courtesy of Markus Rex and NASA


In 1858, Meek moved into the north tower of the Smithsonian Institution.  He worked and lived there.  He wrote many reports while he lived there.  Some of them helped scientists figure out how old rocks were.  He also helped Charles Hall prepare for the Third Arctic Expedition.

Meek was respected by other scientists.  He even had an organisms named after him. They were named “Meekia”, “Meekella striato-ostata,” and “Meekoceras.”


Picture Courtesy of Valdosta State University

Meek died on December 21, 1876 in Washington.        

Web Links


Lang, H. G., & Meath-Lang, B. (1995). Fielding Bradford Meek.  In A Biographical Dictionary: Deaf Persons in the Arts and
(pp.254-257). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.