The “father” of American Hydrogeology is Oscar Edward (O. E.) Meinzer. His “Outline of Ground Water Hydrology – with definitions” (1923) and intellectual and managerial skills at the USGS are well known in the discipline. Less well known is his “Plants as Indicators of Ground Water” (1927). Perhaps this is due to length, because the report is longer than his 1923 paper. This the only USGS report I have ever seen where the USGS asked the reader to return it to the USGS for free, if they “had no further use for it”.
I personally, have probably read too many of these “classic” papers because everybody throughout the 20th and now the 21st century have always emphasized the “new” thinking, technology, and current politics. The advantage in reading the older reports, however, is the clarity of thought about the basic issues.
There does, indeed, seem to be something lost when a discipline becomes “professional”, meaning that it only concerned about how to do things the cheapest or standardized way.