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Finding Aids to Oral Histories in the Smithsonian Institution Archives

Record Unit 9628

Sammy Ray Oral History Interview, 2011

Repository: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Washington, D.C. Contact us at osiaref@si.edu.
Title: Sammy Ray Oral History Interview
Dates: 2011
Quantity: 0.25 cu. ft. (1 half document box)
Collection: Record Unit 9628
Language of Materials: English
Summary:

Sammy M. Ray, professor of biology at the University at Texas at Galveston, collected for the Smithsonian while serving in the military in the Pacific during World War II. This interview was recorded at the Division of Birds, National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), while Dr. Ray viewed the bird specimens he collected and correspondence and documentation, accompanied by Pamela M. Henson and Courtney G. Bellizzi of the Smithsonian Institution Archives, Claudia Angle and James Dean of NMNH. His wife, Charlotte Ray, son, Charles Ray, and daughter-in-law, Marcella Ray are also present.

Historical Note

Sammy M. Ray (1919-2013), professor of biology at Texas A&M University at Galveston, collected for the Smithsonian while serving in the military in the Pacific during World War II. Ray received the B.A. from Mississippi Delta Junior College. During World War II he served as a U.S. Navy Pharmacists' Mate 1st Class in the Pacific. After the war, he attended Louisiana State University, where he received his M.A. in biology in 1952. He received a Ph.D. in biology in 1954 from Rice University. His postgraduate career began with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a fishery research biologist, and he joined the Texas A&M staff in 1957 at the Research Foundation Laboratory on Grande Isle, Louisiana. He became an associate professor in 1963 in Oceanography and Wildlife and Fisheries Science and was named director of the marine laboratory at Galveston. He reached full professor in 1972 and was named head of the Department of Marine Sciences. He then held positions as dean of Texas A&M's Moody College of Marine Technology and interim president of Texas A&M University at Galveston.

In 2012, Smithsonian Institution Libraries presented an exhibit in the National Museum of Natural History, curated by historian Henson, titled When Time and Duty Permit: Smithsonian Collectors during World War II which featured the wartime contributions of Dr. Ray.

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Introduction

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.

Sammy Ray was interviewed for the Smithsonian Archives Oral History Collection because of his role as a collector for the Smithsonian during World War II.

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Descriptive Entry

The Ray interview was recorded in 2011 at the Division of Birds, National Museum of Natural History, while Dr. Ray viewed the bird specimens he collected during World War II as well as correspondence and documentation, accompanied by Pamela M. Henson and Courtney G. Bellizzi of the Smithsonian Institution Archives, Claudia Angle and Craig A. Ludwig of NMNH. His wife, Charlotte Ray, son, Charles Ray, and daughter-in-law, Marcella Ray were also present.

This Ray collection is comprised of 1 interview session, totaling approximately 1.25 hours of recordings. There is one original audio file and one original video file for this session. In total, this collection is comprised of 1 original digital audio file, 1 original digital video file, reference audio and video files, and a 29 page transcript.

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Use Restriction

Restricted. Contact reference staff for details.

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Preferred Citation

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 9628, Sammy Ray Oral History Interview

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Container List

Box 1

Transcript of Interview

Interview 1: 1 April 2011

Box 1 of 1
Interview of Ray covers his childhood; education prior to World War II; marriage to Charlotte Ray; influence of naturalists M. Gordon Vaiden, an amateur ornithologist in Rosedale, Mississippi, his mentor in ornithology, George Lowery at Louisiana State University, and M. L. Miles of Pittsburgh; introduction to Dr. Alexander Wetmore, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution and a noted ornithologist; correspondence with Dr. Wetmore during the war; and reminiscences of where and when he collected each wartime specimen that he donated; his teaching career at Texas A&M; and creation of the Sea Camp program, circa 1920s-2011.
Transcript, pp. 1-29 of audio and video recording, 01:16:23 hours.

Audio and Video Recordings of Interview

Interview 1: 1 April 2011

Box 1 of 1
Total recording time: 01:16:23 hours
Original Master: 1 digital audio stereo .wav file and 1 digital .mts video file
Reference Copy: 1 digital audio .mp3 file and 1 digital Windows Media Video file.