George Jarvis Brush
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George Jarvis Brush

George Jarvis Brush (b. 1831, d. 1912) first became interested in mineralogy at the age of 15 while attending a school run by Theodore S. Gold in West Cornwall, Connecticut. Shortly after studying with Gold, Brush left school to work in a mercantile house for 2 years. After a serious illness, he went into farming.

In 1848 he moved to New Haven to attend lectures by Benjamin Silliman, Jr. and John P. Norton on practical chemistry and agriculture. From this beginning, he studied chemistry, metallurgy and mineralogy. He entered Yale in 1848 and left in 1850 to become an assistant to Benjamin Silliman, Jr. at Louisville University. After a special examination, he was allowed to graduate from Yale in 1852 with a Ph.D. From 1852 to 1855, Brush first worked at the University of Virginia and then traveled, worked, and studied in Europe. During this time, he met many of the European scientists, with whom he continued to correspond and exchange minerals.


In 1855, Brush was elected Professor of Metallurgy at the recently established Yale Scientific School, later named the Sheffield Scientific School. In 1864, his role was expanded to include mineralogy and, in 1871, it was limited to mineralogy. He became the first director of the Sheffield Scientific School in 1872. In 1898, Brush retired from active teaching and the Sheffield directorship. He continued his association with the school in various capacities, including as secretary, treasurer and president of the board, until 1911. The mineral “brushite” was named in his honor by G.E. Moore.

In 1904, Brush presented his collection of approximately 15,000 mineral specimens, and a fund to maintain the collection, to the Sheffield Scientific School. The Brush Collection is now administered by the Division of Mineralogy at the Yale Peabody Museum.