Doodlebugger Desk

Updated: Mar 31

The History of Geophysics by Bill Gafford

A Doodlebugger Desk, which originated in the 1940s and was used by the US Army.


Our recent Living Legends Doodlebugger social event on February 9th seemed to be enjoyed by all who attended. We usually have a few of our artifacts out on tables to generate some conversations and sometimes discover new information about the history of the artifact. These events are an opportunity for some of our senior members to gather, enjoy light snacks, and catch up on current events in the oil patch. Anyone is invited and no registration is necessary. The next event will be on May 11, 2022.


An item that has been in our inventory for quite a while is shown in this article. It is a Doodlebugger Desk. It originated in the 1940s and was used by the US Army, thus the drab olive color. The desk was bought from an Army surplus store in New Orleans in the early 1950s by Dan Daniel, who was a supervisor for General Geophysical at the time, and who supervised a seismic crew in Louisiana. Since the crews moved around often, a small desk could be used just about anywhere, was very portable, and easily fit in a back of a pickup along with other geophysical gear. The desk contained the tools and supplies needed to make the computations, reports, and maps for the seismic data collected each day before the reports were sent to the company headquarters. After moving around South Louisiana for a while, Dan transferred the desk to Virgil Harris, who was a party manager for Pope Geophysical in Beaumont at the time. This was in 1954. Virgil used the desk for 4 years as he moved around Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana until he moved to Houston, where the desk was stored in his garage for 47 years. Gene Womack kindly retrieved the desk after it was donated to the GSH Museum Committee to add to the collection of geophysical artifacts.


As seen in the picture, the desk contained a variety of tools and items used in the field to produce the maps used in exploration. These items include the Leroy Lettering Sets used to draft the labels and maps sent to the company offices. Other items include a variety of pencils, various timing and measuring scales, and contouring templates, dividers, an electric eraser, and a slide rule for computations. There are also road maps from the 1950s. This desk, along with our seismic recording doghouse, illustrates the typical equipment used in the 1950s in land seismic exploration. The desk and doghouse are on display at the Geoscience Center.


Volunteers are always needed to help research some of our older instruments and artifacts and determine how they fit into the exploration picture in their time. We have other projects available for anyone who would like to contribute to our activities.

Duplicate books, manuals and periodicals are available for free

This is another reminder that we still have plenty of books, manuals, and periodicals that are duplicates to our inventory and available for FREE. These include textbooks, training manuals, workshop notes, and a variety of geoscience related SEG and AAPG publications. Items in our permanent Library Collection are also available to be checked out.


Geoscience Center Hours

The Geoscience Center is usually open on Wednesday mornings from 9:00 until noon or by appointment, and visitors are always welcome. Please contact me at geogaf@hal-pc.org or 281-370-3264 for more information.


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