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Finding Aids to Oral Histories in the Smithsonian Institution Archives

Record Unit 9518

Emlong, Jennie V., interviewee

Jennie V. Emlong Oral History Interview, 1980

Repository: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Washington, D.C. Contact us at osiaref@si.edu.
Creator: Emlong, Jennie V., interviewee
Title: Jennie V. Emlong Oral History Interview
Dates: 1980
Quantity: 2 audiotapes (Reference copies).
Collection: Record Unit 9518
Language of Materials: English
Summary:

Jennie Emlong was interviewed by Clayton Ray to provide a full picture of her talented and multi-faceted son. The interview covers his family background; childhood; education; development of interests in collecting; relationships with paleontologists, especially at the NMNH; major fossil finds; artistic activities; and personality.

Historical Note

Jennie Emlong's son, Douglas Ralph Emlong (1942-1980), was an amateur field collector of fossils in the Pacific Northwest. He had close ties with the Department of Paleobiology, National Museum of National History (NMNH) which purchased many of his collections and often supported his field work. Douglas Emlong was self-educated in paleontology and displayed an early penchant for collecting. During his childhood, he spent much of his time roaming the hills and desert of Southern California, collecting cacti, minerals, agates, and fossils. When he was in the eighth grade, his family moved to the Oregon coast, and he began collecting marine fossils found on the beach and in surrounding cliffs. For several years after high school, he operated a fossil and rock museum and shop, and lectured extensively on the paleontology of the Oregon coast. He became acquainted with many prominent West Coast paleontologists, notable Arnold Shotwell, in his search for information on the complex geology of the region.

Douglas Emlong's first contact with the Smithsonian was with A. Remington Kellogg of the NMNH who was interested in his fossil cetaceans. His relationship with the museum was solidified by Clayton E. Ray, curator of the Department of Paleobiology, who encouraged and funded Emlong's fossil collecting, and purchased his unique marine fossils.

Emlong possessed the individualistic and brilliant mind of the gifted amateur collector. He was largely self-taught, worked alone, and was truly enthralled by the search for clues to the past. These searches produced many new specimens of fossils, ranging from plants to invertebrates to marine mammals, notably fifteen new species of marine mammals and two previously unknown families. Emlong was a creative and intuitive individual. He was a musician and composer, a painter and a writer. He was intrigued by mysticism, telepathy, and other frontiers of human intellect.

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Introduction

The Smithsonian Institution Archives began its Oral History Program in 1973. The purpose of the program is to supplement the written documentation of the Archives' record and manuscript collections with an Oral History Collection, focusing on the history of the Institution, research by its scholars, and contributions of its staff. Program staff conduct interviews with current and retired Smithsonian staff and others who have made significant contributions to the Institution. There are also interviews conducted by researchers or student on topics related to the history of the Smithsonian or the holdings of the Smithsonian Institution Archives.

Jennie V. Emlong was interviewed for the Oral History Program to provide a full picture of her talented and multi-faceted son, Douglas Ralph Emlong, who had close ties with the Department of Paleobiology, National Museum of Natural History.

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Descriptive Entry

Jennie V. Emlong was interviewed by Clayton Edward Ray on June 20, 1980 to provide a full picture of her talented and multi-faceted son, who possessed the unique personality characteristics requisite to the really successful collector. The interview covers his family background, childhood, education, development of interests in collecting, relationships with paleontologists, major fossil finds, artistic activities, and personality.

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Preferred Citation

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 9518, Jennie V. Emlong Oral History Interview

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Container List

Interview

Interview 1: June 20, 1980

Interview

Transcript, pp. 1-52, of audio recording, 2.0 hours.

Interview

Recording of Interview: Total Recording Time: 2.0 hours

Interview
Original Masters: 2 5" reel-to-reel analog audiotapes
Reference Copies: 2 audiocassette tapes