The development of any scientific discipline owes much to communication and networking among peers. Mineralogy's maturation in the early nineteenth century profited not only from the publication of two key textbooks, one French and one American, but also from the subsequent correspondence of the two authors and their coteries. Alexandre Brongniart (1770-1847) produced his Traité élémentaire de minéralogie in 1807. Parker Cleaveland (1780-1858), of Bowdoin College, Maine, adopted the chemistry-based classification system of Brongniart, presenting An Elementary Treatise on Mineralogy and Geology in 1816 for an American audience. The two authors became correspondents, not only sharing ideas but also exchanging specimens. Cleaveland's friend, Benjamin Silliman, Sr. (1779-1864), of Yale College, entered the circle, corresponding with Brongniart, Cleaveland, and his own extended web of contacts. By considering the lives, contributions, and correspondence of the three men and their like-minded friends, we come to a deeper understanding of the evolution of geological disciplines and of issues of interest to naturalists in the first decades of the nineteenth century.

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