Many elements of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its
commissioned officer service, the NOAA Corps, are direct descendants of the U. S. Coast
and Geodetic Survey (USC&GS), the oldest scientific agency in the U.S. Federal Government.
NOAA and the NOAA Corps can trace their lineage to 1807 when President Thomas Jefferson,
among the most scientific of our Presidents, signed a bill for the "Survey of the Coast."
The first Superintendent of the Coast Survey was Ferdinand Rudolph Hassler, a Swiss
immigrant whose scientific skill, strength of character, and indomitable nature guided this
first science agency through many difficult times until his death in 1843. Hassler left a
thriving organization imbued with principles of accuracy, scientific standards, and
integrity as his gift to the American people.
During the period before the Civil War, the work force of the Survey was made up of a
nucleus of civilians working hand-in-hand with Army and Naval officers. These men and
women (the Coast Survey was the first Federal agency to hire female professionals) worked
at charting the nation's waterways, producing topographic maps of our shorelines, and
conducting the triangulation that was the backbone of all precise mapping efforts. Their
efforts made our marine highways among the best charted in the world. Many outstanding
military and Naval officers served with the Survey during these years, including Andrew
Humphreys, Edwin O.C. Ord, Isaac Ingalls Stevens, Joseph Johnston, Ambrose P. Hill, David
Dixon Porter, Charles H. Davis, James Alden, Samuel P. Lee, and John Maffitt.