Finding Aids to Oral Histories in the Smithsonian Institution Archives
Record Unit 9557
Whitmore, Frank C., interviewee
Frank C. Whitmore Oral History Interviews, 1989
Frank C. Whitmore, Jr. (1915-2012), research geologist for the United States Geological Survey (USGS), specialized in the systematics of fossil mammals. Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on November 17, 1915, he received the A.B. from Amherst College in 1938. He was awarded the M.S. in invertebrate paleontology in 1939 from Pennsylvania State University. He completed his graduate training in vertebrate paleontology at Harvard University, under Alfred Sherwood Romer, receiving the A.M. in 1941 and Ph.D. in 1942. In 1939, he married Martha Burling Kremers, and they had four children, Geoffrey Mason, John Kremers, Katherine Burling and Susan Hale Whitmore.
After graduation, Whitmore taught geology at Rhode Island State College from 1942 to 1944. He was appointed a Geologist at the USGS in 1944, but was detailed as a scientific consultant to the U.S. Army in the Philippines, Japan and Korea from 1945 to 1946. In 1946, he became Chief of the Military Geology Branch of the USGS, a position he held through 1959. He then transferred to the USGS Paleontology and Stratigraphy located in the Natural History Building (NHB) where he worked as a research geologist on the systematics of fossil mammals, especially Tertiary Cetacea. His field work focused on the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Plain, Panama, Kentucky and Alaska. He was also appointed a research associate of the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) during his tenure in the museum.
An active member of the paleontological community since the 1930s, Whitmore joined the Geological Society of America (GSA) while a graduate student, serving as vertebrate paleontology section chair in 1972. He was present at the formative meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP) in 1938 and remained active in that society, as well as the Paleontological Society (PS), the Geological Society of Washington, as President in 1970, and the Paleontological Society of Washington, as President in 1950.
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 students on topics related to the history of the Smithsonian or the holdings of the Smithsonian Institution Archives.
Frank C. Whitmore, Jr., was interviewed for the Oral History Collection by Cain because of his involvement with the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology from its inception to the late 1930s.
The Frank C. Whitmore, Jr., Interview was conducted in 1989 by Smithsonian Archives visiting fellow, Joseph A. Cain, as part of a research project on the history of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology. Cain was a graduate student in history of science at the University of Maryland. The interview consists of 2.0 hours of audiotape and 55 pages of transcript. The Frank C. Whitmore, Jr., Interview discusses his education and career as a vertebrate paleontologist, especially his recollections of the founding of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, reminiscences of colleagues such as Alfred Sherwood Romer and William Berryman Scott, and reflections on the history of the field of vertebrate paleontology in the United States in the twentieth century.
This collection is indexed under the following access terms. These are links to collections with related topics, persons or places.
- Whitmore, Frank C.
- Cain, Joseph A., interviewer
- Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
- Geological Survey (U.S.)
- National Museum of Natural History (U.S.). Department of Paleobiology
- Oral history
- Records of meetings, organizations, and professional societies
- Vertebrate paleontology
- Geology, Stratigraphic$yTertiary
Physical Characteristics of Materials in the Collection
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 9557, Frank C. Whitmore Oral History Interviews