Gilbert F. White
A: Yes, and W.G. Hoyt. I think I first encountered both in the Geological
Survey. I've forgotten when Walter joined the survey. I became interested
in the flood problem in the early thirties-that is, '34, '35. The Mississippi
Valley Committee financed C.S. Jarvis to put together the first real
compilation of flood records. I don't know whether you know that volume
that he produced. It came out as a Geological Survey Water Supply paper.
He was the first to be responsive to the issue you were raising earlier as to
what is solid evidence from the hydrological area about the occurrence and
frequency of floods. And I negotiated the funding for the Jarvis volume as
just a youngster, playing a secretarial role. Jarvis was a person who had
worked with the Corps, and tremendously knowledgeable about flood
W.G. Hoyt was in the Water Resources Division. John Hoyt was in charge
of part of it.
Q: How were they related?
A: I seem to recall they were brothers. But I'm not sure about that. And then
Hoyt and Langbein joined forces to do their book on Floods, which I think is
an absolutely first-rate book. So I was in touch with them from the late
thirties, I would say. And I used to talk with them about material I was
poring over in connection with my dissertation.
Q: I see. Do you feel that Hoyt and Langbein's book on floods had a significant
impact on, well, say the planning processes within the various water resources
A: Oh, I do. I think that they were the first to pull together the scientific
information about floods in a coherent sort of a structure. If you compare
what they were saying with what had gone before, all of the books on flood
control engineering and so on, it was a definite step forward. The Jarvis
study was published as a Water Supply paper in 1936. It was suggested by
the Mississippi Valley Committee, and the new Water Planning Committee
gave him additional support to carry out the work. Gerard Mathes was very
supportive of it. One of the efforts that was made at that time was to tie in
that effort with the scientific groups--the American Society of Civil
Engineers, the American Geophysical Union--so that when the book came out