Title: Joseph S. Dixon papers
Identifier/Call Number: MVZA.MSS.0079
Museum of Vertebrate Zoology Archives
Language of Material:
Date (inclusive): 1908-1929
Dixon, Joseph S. (Joseph Scattergood), 1884-1952
Conditions Governing Access note
The collection is open for research.
[Identification of item], Joseph S. Dixon Papers, MVZA.MSS.0079, Museum of Vertebrate Zoology Archives, University of California,
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright restrictions may apply. All requests to publish, quote, or reproduce must be submitted to the Museum of Vertebrate
Zoology Archives in writing for approval. Please contact the Museum Archivist for further information.
Related Archival Materials note
Joseph S. Dixon was born in Galena, Kansas on March 5, 1884. Very early in his life his family moved to San Diego, California
where they owned a citrus farm. Joseph attended public schools in the Escondido area, and later attended Polytechnic Institute
where he studied biology under Joseph Grinnell. He joined the Harvard Siberian Alaska Expedition sponsored by Annie M. Alexander
in 1907. Due to unexpectedly severe weather the planned six-month trip stranded the group for nineteen months.
In 1908, Grinnell was appointed as founding Director over the new Museum of Vertebrate Zoology (MVZ) at the University of
California at Berkeley. Dixon followed Grinnell to U.C. Berkeley and, after completing his graduate studies under Grinnell
in 1915, Dixon joined the faculty at the museum, first as Assistant Curator of Mammals and later as the museum’s Economic
Mammalogist. Dixon participated in Grinnell's scientifically important biological transect of the Yosemite region. By this
time Dixon was known as a highly experienced field researcher and was assigned to lead a second important survey of the Kings
River Canyon region, later known as the Sequoia Survey.
In 1932 Dixon left the MVZ to join the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service where he was assigned to prepare a book to be called "The
Birds and Mammals of Sequoia National Park." Ultimately, due to lack of wartime funds, the project was not completed. The
book was later completed by Lowell Sumner, and was published in 1953. Dixon died shortly before the book was published, but
it has been considered a primary resource for studies of the biology of Southern Sierra. Dixon is considered a pioneer of
wildlife research and a forerunner of the field of conservation biology.
Scope and Contents note
The Joseph S. Dixon Papers collection consists of 11 bound volumes spanning the years 1908-1929. Originally maintained by
the author in three-ring field note binders, the notes were later separated and bound chronologically. The notes include journals,
catalogues, and species accounts from localities within the western United States, primarily California. Some of the field
notes contain hand drawings of specimens, map sketches, and photographs.
The collection is arranged in three primary series: I. Field notes taken in 3 ring notebooks and rebound in MVZ standard bound
field books, II. field notes in (other) formats which have not been rebound in MVZ standard binding, and III. a photographic
series comprised of small series of glass plate negatives, personal photos of Dixon's colleagues, and a collections of deer
The sections are bound in the order presented in this guide.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Biological specimens--Collection and preservation.
University of California (1868-1952). Museum of Vertebrate Zoology