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Finding Aids to Oral Histories in the Smithsonian Institution Archives

Record Unit 9526

Berry, S. Stillman (Samuel Stillman), 1887-1984. interviewee

Oral history interviews with S. Stillman Berry, 1980-1982

Repository: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Washington, D.C. Contact us at osiaref@si.edu.
Creator: Berry, S. Stillman (Samuel Stillman), 1887-1984. interviewee
Title: Oral history interviews with S. Stillman Berry
Dates: 1980-1982
Quantity: 3 audiotapes (Reference copies). 6 digital .mp3 files (Reference copies).
Collection: Record Unit 9526
Language of Materials: English
Summary:

These interviews with S. Stillman Berry by Donald R. Shasky cover malacology; his work at Scripps; reminiscences of colleagues, especially Robert Edwards Carter Stearns, A. Myra Keen, and William M. Mann; and development of his private library.

Historical Note

S. Stillman Berry (1887-1984), was a private researcher working in both malacology and horticulture. He received the B.A. in biology from Stanford University in 1909, the M.A. from Harvard University in 1910, and the Ph.D. from Stanford in 1913. While at Harvard he began his research in cephalopods; he continued work on that subject at Stanford under Harold Heath, where he wrote his dissertation on cephalopods of western North America.

After receiving the Ph.D., Berry accepted a position at the Scripps Institution of Biological Research as Librarian, where he developed the Institution's library collection. This was to be his only paid professional position in the sciences, and he remained at Scripps until 1919.

Following his father's death in 1917, Berry became corporate president of his family's ranch in Montana, but remained in Redlands, California, to continue his career as an independent researcher. He privately published a journal, Leaflets in Malacology. In that publication, as well as several others, he described 401 new taxa of mollusks, mostly from California and the eastern Pacific. In addition to his primary research interests in cephalopods, chitons, and land snails, Berry was an avid horticulturist. He maintained an orange grove and is credited with developing many new varieties of daffodils and irises. A lifelong collector, he amassed a highly significant shell collection, as well as a personal library of important and rare scientific works.

Berry's professional affiliations and honors included appointment as Honorary Member in the Cephalopod International Advisory Council, Life President of the American Malacological Union, and Research Associate at the Smithsonian Institution.

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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.

The S. Stillman Berry interview was donated to the Oral History Collection because of his long career and contributions to the field of American malacology.

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Descriptive Entry

S. Stillman Berry was interviewed by Donald R. Shasky, a physician and shell collector, because of his long career and contributions to the field of American malacology. Interviews cover his work at Scripps, reminiscences of colleagues, and development of his private library. These complement the S. Stillman Berry Papers which are also located in the Smithsonian Institution Archives. Berry's cephalopod collection is now housed in the National Museum of Natural History, along with selected publications from his library.

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This collection is indexed under the following access terms. These are links to collections with related topics, persons or places.

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Subject

Physical Characteristics of Materials in the Collection

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Preferred Citation

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 9526, Oral history interviews with S. Stillman Berry

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Container List

Box 1

Transcripts of Interviews

Consists of brief reminiscences of Berry's colleagues, including Charles R. Orcutt, Joshua L. Baily, Jr., Allyn G. Smith, Robert Robertson, Ralph Arnold, and others. Interview focuses on experiences with Allyn Smith, for whom Berry was a mentor, including field collecting in California. Also covers experiences with Robert Robertson, another of Berry's protege, as well as with Myra Keen and Katuro Oyama.
Transcript, pp.15-48, of audiocassette recording, 1.28 hours.
Discusses Josiah Keep and early editions of Keep's West Coast Shells in Berry's collection, development of Berry's personal library, reminiscences of Berry's visit to Washington, D.C., with William M. Mann, Berry's return trip to California, and the acquisition of rare books.
Transcript, pp. 49-71, of audiocassette recording, 1.37 hours.

Audio Recordings of Interviews

Interview 1: 4 May 1980

Box 1 of 1
Total Recording Time: 0.78 hours
Original Masters: 1 cassette audiotape
Preservation Masters: 2 7" low torque reel-to-reel analog audiotapes; 2 digital .wav files
Reference Copies: 1 cassette audiotape; 2 digital .mp3 files

Interview 2: 7 May 1980

Box 1 of 1
Total Recording Time: 1.28 hours
Original Masters: 1 cassette audiotape
Preservation Masters: 4 7" and 7" low torque reel-to-reel analog audiotapes; 2 digital .wav files
Reference Copies: 1 cassette audiotape; 2 digital .mp3 files

Interview 3: 4 February 1982

Box 1 of 1
Total Recording Time: 1.37 hours
Original Masters: 1 cassette audiotape
Preservation Masters: 4 7" low torque reel-to-reel analog audiotapes; 2 digital .wav files
Reference Copies: 1 cassette audiotape; 2 digital .mp3 files