A. Allen Graffham
Albert Allen Graffham, a legend among paleontological field collectors, was born in Ottawa, Kansas on November 21, 1918, the son of Ida M. Linden and Albert Charles Graffham, a farmer. Growing up near the Tri-State lead-zinc-mining district, he developed an interest in minerals, and studied Geology for three years at the University of Kansas. He then took a position as a groundwater geologist for the U.S. Geological Survey.
Graffham was drafted into service during World War II, serving in the Seabees (the Construction Battalions of the United States Navy). Following his discharge in 1946 he returned to his home town and opened a general mineral specimen dealership called "Graffham's Commercial Museum," dealing primarily in Tri-State minerals, but it lasted for only a year or so. He then moved to Lincoln, Nebraska where he attended the University of Nebraska, teaching mineralogy courses while studying and working as a collector and preparator for the university's Geology Museum. He received his M.S. Degree in Geology there in 1950, then moved on to Stanford University where he studied micropaleontology.
Graffham worked as a geologist/paleontologist for an oil company in Oklahoma, and explored for oil in Ecuador in the 1950s. He was also a founder and co-owner of Earth Science Digest magazine in 1946, and contributed numerous articles during its first year.
He was the first curator of the Tucker Tower Museum at Lake Murray State Park, near Ardmore, Oklahoma. In 1955 he purchased a building in Ardmore, and established the Geological Enterprises company in 1956, dealing in mineral and (primarily) fossil specimens, many of them (especially the fossils) self-collected. Over the next 50 years, he discovered dozens of new fossil species and many new localities for fossils, while donating thousands of specimens to institutions.
He was a founding member of the Association of Applied Paleontological Sciences (or AAPS), served as their first President, and was on their Board of Directors from the late 1970s through the 1980s. In 2004 he was awarded the Association's highest award, the Sternberg Medal, in recognition of his life-long contributions and achievements in the field of paleontology. He was for many years a member of the board of the Goddard Youth Camp, a camp specializing in teaching children about fossils. The main room of the camp's museum is called "Graffham Hall" and displays many fossils supplied by Geological Enterprises.
Graffham first married ______; their infant son was drowned in a flash flood in 1947; he was survived by their daughters Jan, Joan, Vala and Linda. In 1989 he married Frances "Fran" J. Smith Manton.
He died on July 13, 2009 at the Ardmore Veterans Center in Ardmore, Oklahoma following a long battle with Parkinson's disease.
LARSON, N. (2009) A. Allen Graffham, 1918-2009. www.aaps.net.
U.S. Federal Census, 1920, 1930.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2017)
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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