Morrison, Joseph Paul Eldred

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Biographical History

Joseph Paul Eldred Morrison (1906-1983), a respected authority in malacology, was born at South Bend, Indiana. His parents, Robert and Edith Eldred, were missionaries in Congo Belge [Belgian Congo], Africa, where his two brothers were born. After their mother's death in 1912 and father's death in 1913, the three boys became foster sons of Dr. and Mrs. Hugh Tucker Morrison. Joseph Morrison was interested in zoology from his childhood, and at age 12 took a correspondence course in taxidermy. He spent much of his spare time collecting animals around his home in Springfield, Illinois. He graduated from the University of Chicago in 1926 and went on to earn his M.S. (1929) and Ph.D. (1931) from the University of Wisconsin. While in school, Morrison worked as a researcher in zoology at the Illinois State Museum; the Mount Desert Island, Maine, Biological Survey; and the Wisconsin State Natural History Survey. He also taught briefly before joining the Division of Mollusks, United States National Museum, as a senior scientific aid in 1934. He was made assistant curator on September 1, 1942, and associate curator in 1946, where he remained until his retirement in 1975. While at the Smithsonian, Morrison collected mollusks locally and on expedition. He did research for the Army Chemical Warfare Service in San Jose, Panama, in 1944. He also participated in both Operation Crossroads and the Bikini Scientific Resurvey research of the atomic bomb test sites in the Marshall Islands in 1946 and 1947. Aside from traveling and collecting, Morrison acted as a consultant on medical and veterinary topics for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Surgeon General, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He also served as an editorial consultant for National Geographic Magazine, as well as adviser to many colleagues and students. He was known as an expert in all three major areas of molluscan study: freshwater, land, and marine. He was a prolific writer, with over 100 publications and 175 new molluscan taxa introduced. Especially interested in specimen collection equipment, he designed or modified various dredges, nets, traps and firearms, including a .30 caliber M1 carbine that was used in a survival kit for World War II troops.

Related entities

United States National Museum: He worked in the Division of Mollusks, United States National Museum, from 1934 -1975.

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