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John S. White
(1933-    )

John Sampson White was born September 30, 1933, in Monessen, Pennsylvania, the son of John Sampson White, Sr., a metallurgist, and Frances Sickler White. He grew up in Baltimore County, Maryland, where he first became interested in minerals in the eighth grade; his science class required that he assemble a “rock collection,” an assignment that established the direction his life would ultimately take. One of his early mentors was Paul E. Desautels, at that time a chemistry instructor at a local teachers' college but in later years destined to be curator of minerals at the U.S. National Museum (Smithsonian Institution), and John's supervisor there. John attended Franklin and Marshall College, where he was the founder and coach/captain of the college's first lacrosse team. He was awarded his BS in Geology there in 1956, following which he entered the Army and was stationed in Germany for two years.

Discharged from the Service in 1958, he took a position as science and math teacher at Reisterstown (Maryland) Junior High School. Still fervently interested in mineralogy, John decided to enroll in Graduate School at the University of Arizona in Tucson in 1960. His thesis was “Plattnerite, a description of the species from natural crystals.” It was in Tucson that he met fellow student Mary Lynn Goebel, and they were married in 1962. Together they had three daughters: Wendy (1963), Kendahl (1965) and Leslie (1968). While in Arizona he also collected at a number of the more famous localities, including the Rowley mine, Old Yuma mine, Holland mine and (with Dick Jones) the Glove mine. He established a short-lived mineral dealership called “Delmann Minerals” with fellow graduate student Victor Hoffmann; they even had a booth at the 1962 Tucson Show.

After more or less completing his graduate studies in 1962 (his Master's Degree was formally awarded in 1966) John hired on as field geologist for the American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO) in Tucson. The following year (1963) he was hired by the Smithsonian Institution as a museum technician/specialist in the Mineral Sciences Department, under his old mentor, curator Paul Desautels. He moved to suburban Maryland outside Washington, DC to assume his duties, and in his spare time he founded The Mineralogical Record magazine in 1970. The museum administration was impressed with his new magazine, and with his work in the department; thus he was promoted to Museum Curator in 1973. He described the early history of the Mineralogical Record in a 2004 article.

The press of museum duties left insufficient time to manage his fledgeling magazine, however, and so in 1976 White hired recent PhD graduate Wendell Wilson to take over as editor. John was promoted again, to associate curator-in-charge, in 1981, and stepped down as publisher of The Mineralogical Record in 1983, turning those duties over to Wilson as well. Following the departure of Desautels, John was promoted to curator-in-charge in 1984, a position he held until his retirement in 1991.

Capitalizing on his years of museum experience, John then established his own museum/collector consulting business in Philadelphia, which he named Kustos (=”Curation”), and also began dealing in fine mineral specimens. Having divorced amicably some years earlier, he married Merle Greenberg, editor of Lapidary Journal, in 1992, and they settled in Stewartstown, Pennsylvania, in 1993, where they remain today. His former wife, Mary Lynn, who began serving as Circulation Manager of The Mineralogical Record in 1971, later remarried as well (to Richard Michela), and remained the Circulation Manager until 2011.

John's personal mineral collection has focused on five specialties: (1) single “floater” crystals, (2) twinned “floater” crystals, (3) quartz, (4) specimens from the Pennsylvania-Maryland-Virginia area, and (5) gemstones. His collection today (described in a 2009 article by Tom Moore) numbers about 700 carefully selected specimens.

John's publishing record is extensive. His personal bibliography includes two books on popular mineralogy, over 100 technical articles and hundreds of reviews and column installments. He has served as an officer for the Mineral Museums Advisory Council and the Commission on Museums of the International Mineralogical Association; is a Fellow of the Mineralogical Society of America and an honorary member of three mineralogical societies as well as the Washington Guild and the American Gem Society; was a consultant for The Discovery Channel on the production of geology and mineralogy related portions of the Discovery Interactive Library (1992); served as a member of the Board of Advisors to the Jewelry Trade Center, Bangkok, Thailand (1992-1994); served as Secretary of the American Gemstone Mining Association, (1992-1994); worked as a consultant with Sandra S. Nichols in GEMART (1992-1995); consulted for the Science Museum of Minnesota, St. Paul, (1992-1993) (where he developed a new mineral and gem gallery which opened March 1993); has served as U. S. representative for the Munich Mineral Show; and has served as Adjunct Curator for the Clement Museum in Marion, Kentucky and the nature museum on Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina.

John remains very busy in retirement, as a writer of columns and occasional articles in The Mineralogical Record, Lapidary Journal and Rocks & Minerals (where he is also a member of the Editorial Board), and as an associate editor for Mineralogical Almanac. He does free-lance editing and proofreading of papers and books for various publishers, is occasionally hired to appraise mineral collections and consult on mineral exhibitions, and assists Jordi Fabre as moderator of the FMF forum on Jordi's website. On top of it all, he still enjoys field collecting, has been a regular lecturer for various groups, and continues to indulge his passion for minerals at every opportunity. He can be contacted at:

5537 Bens Road
Stewartstown PA 17363

MOORE, T. P. (2009) Collector profile: John S. White, Jr., and his single-crystal collection. Mineralogical Record, 40, 215-223.
WHITE, J. S. (2004) The Early History of the Mineralogical Record. Mineralogical Record, 35, 73-85.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Mineralogical Record
Biographical Archive, at]
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The Mineralogical Record - John S. White John S. White
The Mineralogical Record - John S. White 42 x 67 mm,
A label from John White's short-lived dealership with Victor Hoffman while they were graduate students at the University of Arizona in 1962.
The Mineralogical Record - John S. White 57 x 85 mm,
from 1962 in Arizona
The Mineralogical Record - John S. White 41 x 52 mm,
Bowie address (1966-1991)
The Mineralogical Record - John S. White 44 x 70 mm,
Stewartstown address (1993-present)
The Mineralogical Record - John S. White 43 x 66 mm,
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