William Osgood Field (1904-1994)

Yesterday’s Wordless Wednesday post was a picture from the Library of Congress’ photo collection on Flickr.  I did a search for the term “Vanderbilt” and this was one of the results. It came up because someone posted a comment asking if the young boy in the picture was Frederick William Vanderbilt. However, it is not, as someone else commented, but his brother, William Osgood Field.

In the picture are three individuals, William Osgood Field, his mother on his right, Mrs. Lila Vanderbilt Sloane Field and her mother-in-law and William’s grandmother, Mrs. Augusta Currie Bradhursrt Field.  The picture was taken between 1910-1915. When I found this picture, I decided to build up this family’s tree a litte further.

Lila was married to William Broadhurst Osgood Field and she was a great-grandaughter of the Commodore. His eldest son, William, was her grandfather.  They would have four children, of which little Osgood was the oldest – he was born in 1904.  In my quick research, I found a passport applicaiton of his father’s from 1923 and there are pictures of Willam B. Osgood Field Sr., and his two sons, Wiliam Osgood Field Jr. and Frederick Vanderbilt Field. I am not sure which one is William & which one is Frederick, but I am going to guess that since the passport application lists William Jr. first and then Frederick, the one on the far left is William.  On this trip, their father was taking them over to Switzerland for school purpose [link to application on Ancestry.com]  Here is the picture that was in the application.

I learned quite a bit about this family from the finding aids of the papers of William Broadhurst Osgood Field Sr. that are housed at the New York Public Library.

William Osgood Field Jr. would go on to become a glaciologist, and a leader in the study of glaciers. The National Glacier Bay website of the National Park Service had this picture of him taken in 1966 at Muir Inlet.

William died in 1994. I wonder if his family has this picture of him with his mother and grandmother?  His oral biography, With A Camera In My Hands, was published 10 years after his death. I plan to put this on my list of books to check out, and I have added it to the blibliography page.


15 thoughts on “William Osgood Field (1904-1994)

  1. Is the “Willie Field” who was George Washington Vanderbilt’s good friend and traveling companion related to these Fields?
    Thanks so much for this excellent, fascinating site.

  2. W. Osgood Field spoke to the Harvard Travellers Club in 1930 about his visit to Svaneti, in the mountains of what is now the Republic of Georgia. Is there any published record of his trip? If so, it might be of use to me as I prepare for speaking engagements n Georgia next month.

  3. The William Osgood Field Collection is at the Alaska and Polar Regions Department, Elmer E. Rasmuson Library, University of Alaska Fairbanks

  4. While in Georgia this past October (2011) I visited the Svaneti region and found prominently displayed in the Hotel Tetnuldi in Mestia, the main town in Svaneti, a number of Field’s photographs from the W. Osgood Field collection in the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.

    • They made a movie in Georgia about William Osgood Field’s travels to Svaneti. I had not seen it but the title is The Remote Valleys of the Caucasus. Here is the trailer:

      According to the research done by Irakly Iakobashvili, W. O. Field also made several movies in Svaneti. By the way, Iakobashvili himself discovered Field by accident.

      I grew up in Georgia during Soviet times and have never heard of this great scientist and explorer. Communists were really good at creating complete informational vacuum in the USSR. Not only the foreigners’ names and their work in Georgia were hidden from people but also the Georgians who came in contact with foreigners could get in trouble or even be killed. What a pity that we (the Georgians) are just now discovering Field, George Kennan, Fitzroy Maclean etc. I am sure there are even more explorers who visited Georgia during the 70 year Soviet occupation and I only hope that all will be rediscovered and none forgotten.

  5. William Osgood Field along with my father, Lem Harris and Fred V. Field were the first to climb South Twin Peak in the Canadian Rockies in 1924!

  6. Dr. William Osgood Field lived in Putnam Valley N.Y. on a 1600 acre estate
    which he deeded to the Boy Scouts of America. It is utilized year round and known as Clear Lake Scout Reservation. An inscribed plack is set on Clear lake were his house once stood. Fahnestock State Park borders camp.

  7. Sandy Kelley Berry: I was a personal care-giver to Wm. Osgood Field and his wife Mary for a few years while they they were retired to the Berkshires of Western Massachetts…both at their home in the Great Barrington/Egremont area and their final residence at Kimball Farms in Lenox. He was an incredibly sweet and kind man and he shared many, many stories and albums with me. Wonderful memories!


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