Finding Aids to Oral Histories in the Smithsonian Institution Archives
Record Unit 9616
Division of Fishes, National Museum of Natural History, Interviews, 2003-2004
The Division of Fishes in the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) was established in the 1850s to carry out research in the systematics of fishes. Throughout its history, research on the national fish collections at the Smithsonian has been conducted both by curators in the National Museum of Natural History and research staff of the Bureau of Fisheries, later the National Systematics Laboratory, National Marine Fisheries Service, United States Department of Commerce. The interviewees were Bruce B. Collette, National Systematics Laboratory, U.S. Department of Commerce; Susan L. Jewett, Collection Manager; Victor Gruschka Springer, Curator; James C. Tyler, Curator; Stanley H. Weitzman, Curator, Marilyn Jean Sohner Weitzman, Research Associate; Jeffrey T. Williams, Collections Manager, Fishes; and George R. Zug, Curator, Division of Reptiles and Amphibians.
The Smithsonian Institution Archives (SIA) 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 reminiscences and interviews recorded by researchers or students on topics related to the history of the Smithsonian or the holdings of the Smithsonian Institution Archives.
David G. Smith, Museum Specialist, Susan L. Jewett, Collection Manager, and Inci Altug Bowman, volunteer, Division of Fishes, at the National Museum of Natural History, conducted a series of oral history interviews with senior staff in the division to provide biographical information to the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.
Bruce B. Collette (1934- ), an Adjunct Scientist, Systematics Laboratory, National Marine Fisheries Service, Department of Commerce, received the B.S. in 1956 and the Ph.D. in 1960 from Cornell University and has spent most of his career at the National Museum of Natural History. His research specialties include the systematics, evolution, zoogeography, anatomy, and biology of marine fishes, especially Scombroidei (mackerels and tunas), Xiphioidei (bill-fishes), Beloniformes (needlefishes and halfbeaks), and Batrachoididae (toadfishes).
Susan L. Jewett (1945- ), Collections Manager, Division of Fishes, National Museum of Natural History, received the B.S. from the University of Louisville in 1967. She joined the staff of the Division of Fishes, National Museum of Natural History, in 1969 as a technician and advanced to Collections Manager. She was involved of the primitive coelacanths and their study in the 1990s.
Victor Gruschka Springer (1928- ), Senior Scientist Emeritus, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History, received the B.A. in 1948 from Emory University, the M.S. in 1954 from the University of Miami, and the Ph.D. in 1957 from the University of Texas. His research specialties include the systematics, zoogeography, and anatomy of tropical marine fishes.
James C. Tyler (1935- ), Senior Scientist Emeritus, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History, received the B.A. in 1957 from The George Washington University and the Ph.D. in 1962 from Stanford University. His research specialties include systematic ichthyology, especially Tetraodontiformes (specialized ray-finned fish) and community ecology of coral reef fishes.
Stanley H. Weitzman (1927-2017) was Curator of Fishes Emeritus, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History. He received the B.A. in 1951 and the M.A. in 1953 from the University of California, Berkeley, and the Ph.D. in 1960 from Stanford University. He joined the Division of Fishes in 1962 until his retirement in 2007. His research specialties include the systematics, anatomy and phylogeny of South American characiform or ray-finned fishes. He and spouse Marilyn J.S. Weitzman often collaborated in their work.
Marilyn Jean Sohner Weitzman (1926- ), Research Associate, Division of Fishes, National Museum of Natural History, received the bachelor degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of California at Berkeley in 1949. She married her childhood friend Stanley Weitzman in 1948. She began assisting Weitzman in his NMNH lab in the 1960s and by the 1970s was doing her own work on Lebiasininae or pencil fish, as well as collaborating with Weitzman.
George R. Zug (1938- ) was named Emeritus Research Zoologist after serving as Curator of Amphibians and Reptiles Emeritus, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History. He received the B.A. in 1960 from Albright College, the M.S. in 1963 from the University of Florida, and the Ph.D. in 1968 from the University of Michigan. His research specialties include the evolution and systematics of amphibians and reptiles, with emphasis on South Pacific species, and the biology and systematics of turtles.
Jeffrey T. Williams (1953-), Research Associate in the Division of Fishes, National Museum of Natural History, received the Ph.D. in Zoology, University of Florida in 1986, the M.S. in Zoology, University of South Alabama in 1979, and B.S. in Zoology, Florida State University in 1975. His research focused on the systematics, taxonomy and zoogeography of tropical marine fishes. William came to the Smithsonian in 1983 and served as Ichthyologist and Collections Manager of Fishes until his retirement in 2020.
The Division of Fishes Interviews cover their childhood, educations, the history of the Division of Fishes, National Museum of Natural History, the careers of these senior scientists in the department, and reminiscences of colleagues such as Carl L. Hubbs, George S. Myers, and Leonard P. Schultz. The James C. Tyler interviews also cover his role as an administrator at the Museum of Natural History and the National Air and Space Museum.
The collection contains twenty-two interview sessions, totaling approximately 46 hours of recordings and transcripts.
Restricted. Contact SIHistory@si.edu for more details.
This collection is indexed under the following access terms. These are links to collections with related topics, persons or places.
- Tyler, James C., 1935-
- Collette, Bruce B.
- Myers, George S. (George Sprague), 1905-1985
- Schultz, Leonard P. (Leonard Peter), 1901-1986
- Weitzman, Marilyn Jean Sohner
- Springer, Victor Gruschka, 1928-
- Weitzman, Stanley H.
- Hubbs, Carl L. (Carl Leavitt), 1894-1979
- Jewett, Susan L.
- Bowman, Inci Altug, 1939- , interviewer
- Williams, Jeffrey T.
- Zug, George R., 1938-
- Smith, David George, 1942- , interviewer
- National Air and Space Museum (U.S.)
- National Museum of Natural History (U.S.). Division of Fishes
- American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists
- United States. National Marine Fisheries Service
- National Systematics Laboratory (U.S.)
- Museum directors -- United States -- Interviews
- Museum curators -- United States -- Interviews
- Scientific expeditions
- Museums -- Administration
- Oral history
Physical Characteristics of Materials in the Collection
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 9616, , Division of Fishes, National Museum of Natural History, Oral History Interviews