Alexis Anastay Julien was born in Queens, New York on February 13, 1840, the son of Magdalene and Denis Julien, an Irish immigrant laborer. He graduated with an A.B. Degree in Chemistry from Union College in Pennsylvania in 1859, and later earned his A.M. Degree there as well. He then served as resident chemist for four years on the tiny guano-rich island of Sombrero in the Lesser Antilles, overseeing phosphate mining in the 1860's.
Returning to New York, he accepted a faculty position at Columbia College's School of Mines in 1865, and married Annie Walker Nevius in 1867. He remained a member of the faculty there for more than 40 years, until his retirement in 1907. He was also curator of the geological collections there from 1895 to 1907, and served as Editor of the Transactions of the New York Academy of Science. A portrait of Julien appears in A History of the New York Academy of Sciences (1887) by H.L. Fairchild.
One of Julien's petrological specialties was building stone, and he wrote extensively on the subject. He also published on a number of other mineralogical and geological topics including fulgarites, glaciation, volcanic tuff, fluid inclusions in topaz, dunite and crystalline iron ores from North Carolina, the genesis of antigorite and talc, microscopical techniques and many other subjects. He died in Masachusetts on May 7, 1919, at the age of 79.
It is not known whether Julien kept a personal mineral collection or worked solely to build the Columbia collection, but the label shown here has survived, with his signature. He did have small printed labels about an inch square, saying "Alexis A. Julien, New York," but he used them primarily to label his collection of glass-slide-mounted polished thin sections of rocks and minerals, which he dvertised at least as early as 1878 (in The Naturalist's Directory). This collection was acquired by the late Julius Weber, and was later purchased by Tony Nikischer.
NIKISCHER, T. (2007) Unexpected treasures in thin section. Mineral News, 23 (4), 5-7.
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WILSON, Wendell E. (2018)
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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Label with Alexis Julien's signature