Information for Researchers
Scope and Content
Collection Title: Joseph and Hilda Wood Grinnell Papers
Date (inclusive): 1886-1967
Collection Number: BANC MSS 73/25 c
Number of containers: 11 boxes, 1 volume, 1 oversize folder
Linear feet: 5
The Bancroft Library.
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720-6000
Phone: (510) 642-6481
Fax: (510) 642-7589
Abstract: Consists of materials reflecting the Grinnell's work in the fields
of natural history and ecology. The bulk of the collection is made up of diaries, field
notes, and materials relating to early conservation efforts in California. Also included are
drafts of articles by Joseph Grinnell regarding the natural history of the west, personal
and professional correspondence of the Grinnell's, including Joseph Grinnell's work as
editor of The Condor, the publication of the Cooper Ornithological Society.
Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English
Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials,
please consult the Library's online catalog.
Information for Researchers
Collection is open for research.
Materials in this collection may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17,
U.S.C.). In addition, the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of
University of California gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and
publicity rights, licensing and trademarks. Transmission or reproduction of materials
protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of
the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited
without permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively
with the user.
All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from, or otherwise use collection materials
must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library,
University of California, Berkeley 94720-6000. See:
[Identification of item], Joseph and Hilda Wood Grinnell Papers, BANC MSS 73/25 c, The
Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley
Title: Joseph Grinnell Papers, 1884-1938,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS C-B 995
Title: Records of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology,
Identifier/Call Number: 1908-1949, UARC CU-120
Title: John G. Tyler correspondence pertaining to ornithological research, ca.
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 79/111 c
Title: Portraits of Joseph Grinnell's family and his colleagues, ca.
Identifier/Call Number: BANC PIC 1973.044
Title: American Ornithologists' Union Meeting Portraits, 1926-1930,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC PIC 1973.038
Material Cataloged Separately
Photographs have been transferred to Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the
library's online public access catalog
Alexander, Annie Montague,
Beckwith, Martha Warren,
Grinnell, Hilda W. (Hilda Wood),
Cooper Ornithological Society
University of California,
Berkeley. Dept. of Zoology
The Joseph and Hilda Wood Grinnell Papers were given to The Bancroft Library by Mary E.
Grinnell on July 18, 1972 and March 12, 1982.
Joseph Grinnell was born on February 27, 1877 near Fort Sill, Oklahoma Territory at the
Kiowa, Comanche and Wichita Indian Agency, where his father served as government physician.
After living for a short time in Tennessee and in the Dakota Territory, the family settled
in Pasadena, California in 1885. Grinnell attended school in Pasadena and received his B.A.
from Throop Polytechnic Institute (now Caltech) in 1897.
Grinnell made two trips to Alaska in 1896-97 and 1898-99, where he conducted field studies
and collected avian specimens. In 1900 he published a paper on these findings entitled
"Birds of the Kotzebue Sound Region, Alaska." Some of the letters and
notebooks from the second trip were published by his mother, ornithologist Elizabeth
Gold Hunting in Alaska.
In 1901, after earning his M.A. from Stanford, he began teaching in the biology department
at Throop. In 1906 he married Hilda Wood, a former student. While teaching at Throop
Grinnell met Annie Montague Alexander, who was about to embark on a collecting trip to
Alaska. Miss Alexander had been preparing to found a museum at the University of California
for the collection and study of vertebrates. This goal was realized in 1908 with the opening
of the California Museum of Vertebrate Zoology. Grinnell was appointed the museum's
first director, a position he held until his death. During his tenure at the Museum,
Grinnell donated his collection of 8,000 birds and 2,000 mammals to the University.
After receiving a Ph.D. from Stanford in 1913, Grinnell was appointed as assistant
professor in the Department of Zoology at Berkeley, and as full professor in 1920. He
published more than 500 papers in his lifetime, primarily on California birds and other
wildlife. Much of Dr. Grinnell's focus in his later years was on the protection of
California's native plant and animal species. He helped to formulate the California
Fish and Game Code and his conservation studies were instrumental in the effort to form the
Point Lobos State Reserve and the Frances S. Hastings Natural History Reservation.
He served as president of the American Ornithologists' Union from 1929-1932 and of
the American Society of Mammalogists from 1937-1938. Dr. Grinnell was editor of
, the publication of the Cooper Ornithological Society from 1906 until his
death in Berkeley on May 29, 1939.
Hilda Wood was born in Tombstone, Arizona Territory on May 29, 1883. She grew up in
Glendora, California and received a B.S. from Throop in 1906. After her husband became
director of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology in 1908, the couple moved to Berkeley where
they raised three sons and a daughter. In 1913 she earned an M.S. from the University of
Mrs. Grinnell assisted her husband in his work, accompanying him on countless field trips
as well as helping to prepare his manuscripts for publication. After his death, she carried
on his efforts to promote the study and conservation of wildlife, especially of the native
flora and fauna of California. For over twenty years she served as secretary of the Northern
Division of the Cooper Ornithological Club and was head of the Nature Department at Camp
Sugar Pine (San Francisco Girl Scout Council).
In 1940 Mrs. Grinnell was appointed Bibliographer at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology. She
published a bibliography of the writings of C. Hart Merriam in 1943 and helped to edit
A Bibliography of California Ornithology,
published after his death. Other publications of Mrs. Grinnell's include
Synopsis of the Bats of California
, and a biography of Annie Montague Alexander
published by the Grinnell Naturalists Society. She also contributed articles to
The Gull (Audubon Society of the Pacific). She was a
member of the American Ornithologists' Union, the American Society of Mammalogists
and the California Academy of Sciences.
Hilda Wood Grinnell died on June 7, 1963.
Scope and Content
The Joseph and Hilda Wood Grinnell Papers, 1886-1967, consist of materials reflecting their
work in the fields of natural history and ecology. The bulk of the collection is made up of
diaries, field notes, and materials relating to early conservation efforts in California.
Also included are drafts of articles by Joseph Grinnell regarding the natural history of the
west, personal and professional correspondence of the Grinnell's, including Joseph
Grinnell's work as editor of
The Condor, the publication of the
Cooper Ornithological Society, and a collection of the correspondence of philanthropist
Annie Montague Alexander.
Very little of Joseph Grinnell's professional correspondence is included in this
collection, with the exception of letters relating to the Cooper Ornithological Society.
Hilda Grinnell's correspondence relates to natural history and conservation issues
and includes letters from prominent naturalists including E. Raymond Hall and Alden H.
Miller. Also included is correspondence between Mrs. Grinnell and Annie Montague Alexander
along with letters written by Miss Alexander to her childhood friend, Martha Beckwith, who
was also acquaintance of the Grinnell's for many years.
In the 1890's, Joseph Grinnell made two trips into Alaska to research native
birds. His diaries and field notes from these trips are included in this collection, as well
as letters written to his family during his travels. Also of note is a draft entitled
"The Kotzebue Sound Gold Rush," an account of the second trip, which he
spent working as a cook in a mining camp in the Klondike region, collecting specimens and
recording field observations in his spare time.
By the mid 1920's Grinnell's focus began to shift toward the protection
of wildlife species in the western United States. His research in conservation work impacted
the policies of the National Park Service as well as the California Fish and Game Code. His
philosophy is outlined in his 1925 article "A Conversationist's Creed as
to Wild-Life Administration." The collection also includes materials relating to
his involvement as a member of the Committee on Rodent and Wild Life Control appointed by
President Robert G. Sproul in 1932 to investigate animal poisoning in California.
This collection includes very little material relating to Dr. Grinnell's
administrative or academic work at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, with the exception of
copies of reports to the University, a small amount of zoology course material and a
manuscript for a history of the museum by written by Mrs. Grinnell. Papers relating to his
tenure at the MVZ can be found in the Records of the Museum of Vertabrate Zoology,
1908-1949. Other materials relating to the Cooper Ornithological Club and its publication,
The Condor, can be found in the Joseph Grinnell Papers, 1884-1938, BANC MSS C-B 995.