Houston's geologists have seen the petroleum industry's progress almost from its infancy and have contributed in a large way to that progress. The first commercial geologic department in the United States devoted to the winning of oil from the earth was founded in Houston in 1897 for the Southern Pacific by the great pioneer geologist Dr. Edwin T. Dumble. With the discovery of Spindletop near Beaumont on January 10, 1901, the Texas oil boom started in earnest and the stage was set for the geologists of Houston.
The early geologists met for lunch and in January 1920 they organized into a special group. This organization was short lived and in the summer of 1923, at the invitation of Donald C. Barton of the Rycade Oil Corporation, Houston geologists began meeting for lunch on the first Friday of each month. Alexander Deussen and Wallace E. Pratt, each a past president of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, suggested that Houston host the ninth annual meeting of AAPG in 1924. At the August 1923 monthly meeting, this matter was discussed and it was a unanimous decision to extend the invitation. A viable professional organization was necessary to prepare for this meeting and as a result, the Houston Geological Society was formally chartered on August 8, 1923, with John R. Suman as president and David Donoghue as secretary-treasurer. At this time there were 74 geologists in and near Houston and all were elected charter members of the Society. On April 15, 1975, the Society was incorporated under the laws of the State of Texas with 2,217 active and honorary members. Membership today is near 4,300 members.