Guide to the Arthur Sperry Pearse papers, 1904-1960
Arthur Sperry Pearse was Professor of Zoology at Duke University from 1927 until his retirement in 1948. Collection primarily contains papers and other items relating to his academic career: correspondence, writings and lectures, lab notes and data, fieldwork notes, teaching materials, clippings and printed materials, many photographs and negatives, and glass slides. Images are of animal and plant life, but also include landscapes, people, villages, and social customs from about 1915-1935 in Nigeria and the Yucatán Peninsula, and smaller groups from other research trip locations in South America and Southeast Asia, 1910s-1930s. There are also early photographs and materials regarding the Marine Biology Laboratory in Beaufort, N.C. and other marine labs, as well as images of the Outer Banks coast and people such as fishermen. A large group of images consist of illustrations used in Pearse's textbooks, articles, and teaching lectures. Prominent subjects throughout the collection include the establishment of and research projects at the Duke University Marine Laboratory, the promotion of forestry as a scientific discipline at Duke, Pearse's role as editor of the publication Ecological Monographs, and his research interests: marine biology, ecology, crustaceans, parasitology and parasitic diseases, microbiology and biological adaptation, and forestry.
- Record Group
- Arthur Sperry Pearse papers
- Pearse, A. S. (Arthur Sperry), 1877-1956
- 18 Linear Feet, 16 boxes
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Material in English
Arthur Sperry Pearse was Professor of Zoology at Duke University from 1927 until his retirement in 1948. His professional papers span the length of his academic career and include: correspondence, writings and lectures, lab notes and data, fieldwork notes, teaching materials, clippings and printed materials, many photographs and negatives, book illustrations, and glass slides. Images are of animal and plant life, but also landscapes, people, villages, and social aspects of life from about 1915-1935 in Nigeria and the Yucatán Peninsula, and from other research trip locations in South America and Southeast Asia, 1910s-1930s. Included are snapshots of fellow scientists in the laboratory and in the field. There are also early photographs and materials regarding the Marine Biology Laboratory in Beaufort, N.C. and other marine labs, as well as images of the N.C. coast and people such as fishermen. A large group of images consists of illustrations used in Pearse's textbooks, articles, and teaching lectures.
Prominent subjects throughout the collection include the establishment of and research projects at the Duke University Marine Laboratory, the promotion of forestry as a scientific discipline at Duke, Pearse's role as editor of the journal Ecological Monographs, and his research interests: marine biology, ecology, crustaceans, parasitology and parasitic diseases, microbiology and biological adaptation, and forestry.
Correspondence primarily reflects his role as editor of Ecological Monographs which includes correspondence concerning receipt of drafts for publication, recommended revisions, and future publication dates. Other prominent topics include Pearse's involvement with professional organizations, various symposiums and conferences, publications, research in Nigeria and the Yucatán, and the founding and early operations of the Duke University Marine Laboratory at Beaufort, North Carolina. Also, in 1938-1939, there is a series of correspondence between Pearse and President William Preston Few concerning lack of support for and conditions within the department and Pearse's consequent resignation as departmental chair.
Other materials include research notes, tables, and sketches; graduate student correspondence, plans of work, and dissertation abstracts; manuscripts of various publications authored by Pearse including Animal Ecology and his 1952 autobiography, Adventure: Trying to be an Ecologist; laboratory and field notebooks containing research notes and statistics from Nigeria, the Yucatan, Wisconsin, and various other research locations.
There are many photographic prints, nitrate and safety negatives, and glass-plate lecture slides, all documenting Pearse's research travels, particularly in Nigeria and the Yucatán, but also in Alabama, Florida, and coastal North Carolina, Japan, China, Burma, the Phillippines, Colombia, and Venezuela. Images include local flora, fauna, landscapes, villages, localized crafts and industries, and indigenous peoples, as well as maps, charts, tables, drawings, and photographs used in Pearse's lectures and publications.
Access to the Collection
Access partially restricted: negatives are closed to use. Some images are available in the form of prints.
Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.
Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the University Archives to use this collection.
Collection is open for research.
In accordance with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 as amended, Duke University permits students to inspect their education records and limits the disclosure of personally identifiable information from education records.
Use & Permissions
Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
How to Cite
[Identification of item], Arthur Sperry Pearse Papers, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
Correspondence primarily reflects his role as editor of Ecological Monographs, and relates to drafts for publication, recommended revisions, and dates for future publication. Other prominent topics include Pearse's involvement with professional organizations, including the Ecology Society of America and Society of American Zoologists; various symposiums and conferences, publications, and research; and the founding and early operations of the Duke Marine Biology Laboratory at Beaufort, North Carolina.
Correspondence also reflects Pearse's professional activities outside of the academy: working for the Office of the Quartermaster General interviewing soldiers recently returned from tropical environments in New Guinea, India, Burma, and the Caribbean; promoting the physical rehabilitation of the sciences in Europe in the wake of the Second World War through the American Association for the Advancement of Science; and acting as special investigator for the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries, the International Health Board, and the Carnegie Institute.
In 1938-1939, there is a series of correspondence between Pearse and Duke University President William Preston Few concerning conditions within and lack of support for the Department of Zoology and Pearse's consequent resignation as departmental chair. Series is arranged chronologically.
The bulk of the subject files reflect Pearse's research interests and his involvement with professional organizations and institutes. Materials include correspondence, memoranda, reports, and hand-written notes. Prominent subjects include research and staffing at the Beaufort Marine Lab, his work for Ecological Monographs, his 1926 tenure at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the National Science Foundation, and numeruous zoological and ecological research topics.
This small series contains correspondence concerning graduate student research and thesis progress, plans of work, assigned reading lists, dissertation abstracts, and records of courses completed. Material is arranged alphabetically by student's name.
In accordance with the federal government's Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Duke University permits students to inspect their education records and limits the disclosure of personally identifiable information from education records. Education records include those records which contain information directly related to a student and which are maintained as official working files by the University.
Series contains manuscripts of essays, monographs, and textbooks written by Pearse during his professional career, including reprint editions of Animal Ecology and various working drafts of The Migration of Animals from Sea to Land. Also present is an undated manuscript of a textbook written by Pearse's colleague B. Cunningham.
Series contains material relating to courses taught by Pearse and includes laboratory guides, exercises, and techniques; lecture notes and outlines; lists of manuals, supplies, equipment, and specimen dealers; field trip locations, itineraries, and notes; and ruminations on pedagogical theory with inclusive dates 1905-1923. Most of the material is undated, however, all of the material relates to courses at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where Pearse taught from 1912-1927.
Series contains field notebooks created by Pearse on research trips and in laboratory work with inclusive dates 1904-1952. Titles are taken from the originals.
Beginning with his graduate work at Harvard University, the notebooks document the eclectic research interests, career, and travels of Pearse throughout his professional life. Content ranges widely, from notes and statistics on local flora, fauna, and animal life to notes on local peoples and culture. Arrangement is chronological.
Complementing the notebook entries are the images in the Photographic Materials series, taken to document the travels and projects.
Series contains over 1000 photographs and corresponding negatives, a few postcards, and glass lantern slides primarily documenting Pearse's research travels abroad and within the United States from 1911-1953. Locations with the most photographic images are Nigeria and the Yucatán Peninsula, with smaller numbers from the Duke Beaufort Marine Lab, the NC Outer Banks, Colombia, India, Japan, China, the Philippines, and Venezuela.
Photographs of local flora, fauna, and ecosystems include: fish, crabs and other crustaceans, insects, and turtles; geological and ecological settings, particularly relating to freshwater and coastal zones; cenotes (large sinkholes and caves) in the Yucatán; and mixed zones of agriculture and tropical forest.
Also present are many prints and negatives of charts, maps, animals, and other illustrations used in Pearse's texbooks.
In addition to scientific research photographs, there are images, particularly those from Nigeria and the Yucatán, which document local peoples, customs, and activities, including dress, religious customs, agricultural techniques, food gathering, and architecture such as walled villages and temples.
Single items of interest include a signed portrait of naturalist and Darwinist T.R.R. Stebbing, circa 1915, and a photograph of a group of men from the Association of American Universities taken by the Bayard Wooten-Moulton studio in Chapel Hill, N.C. sometime before 1954.
Negatives are closed to access; use copies exist in the form of photographic prints, though there are also negatives for which prints may not exist. Negatives are slated for digitization.
Glass lantern slides are also closed to general use; scans may be made upon advance request.
Please contact the Rubenstein Library before coming to use this collection.
Titles of folders are taken from the original envelopes. Sizes range from 1.5 x 2.5 to 4 x 6 inches, with only a few larger prints. Almost all are early black-and-white gelatin silver prints printed from nitrate negatives. Includes a few postcards, including several showing the interiors of a Japanese medical school, circa 1929-1930.
Stamp on back: "Wooten-Moulton Photographers, Chapel Hill, NC" (sold in 1954)
Pearse's wife, Mary Lehmer Pearse; colleagues David and Nelle Causey (biologist and zoologist, respectively); and a signed portrait mounted on cardstock frame, circa 1915, of T.R.R. (Thomas Roscoe Rede) Stebbing (1835-1926), naturalist and supporter of Darwinism.
Most of these loose images are from the same locations as other identified prints.
Contains positive glass lantern slides in 3 1/4 x 4 1/4 and 4x5 inch formats, used by Pearse in lectures and presentations. Subjects are the same as the photographic prints and negatives. Also present are teaching slides used by Arthur Pearse in course lectures, which are primarily copies of maps, graphs and charts, illustrations, and photos taken from other published works. Slides are housed in archival boxes within boxes 8-11.
Glass slides are extremely vulnerable and are restricted. Please consider using similar images in other formats. Access copies can also be made on advance request.
Please contact the Rubenstein Library before coming to use these materials.
About half of these sheet negatives have captions written on their edges. There are roughly double the number of negatives as there are prints, thus in this subseries there are many images not found in paper print format. The most typical sizes are 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 and 4 x 5 inches. Most are on nitrate film.
As with the prints, the largest series are from Nigeria and the Yucatán, with about 200 images each; there are also substantial groups from Beaufort, North Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Colombia, China, Japan, the Philippines, India, Thailand, the Tortugas, and Venezuela. Many of these images are not found among the prints.
All negatives are closed to use. Access copies are available in the form of photographic prints or digital scan. As these require advance preparation, please contact the Rubenstein Library before coming to use this collection.
Includes an original envelope marked "Deck passengers on S.S. Metapan, June 29, 1913."
Arthur Sperry Pearse was born 15 March 1877, on the Pawnee Indian Reservation near Crete, Nebraska, where his parents ran a trading post. In 1898, Pearse left the University of Nebraska with the 4th Nebraska Volunteer Infantry in the Spanish-American War, returning to receive his B.A. in 1900 and his M.A. in 1904. He went on to complete his doctoral work at Harvard where he received his Ph.D. in 1908. Also, in 1942, Pearse received an honorary LL.D. from the University of Nebraska.
Pearse taught courses at Harvard, the University of Michigan (1908-1910), the University of the Philippines (1911), St. Louis University School of Medicine (1911-1912), the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1912-1927), and, finally, as Professor of Zoology at Duke University (1927-1948). In 1926, Pearse spent five months at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and one year as a visiting professor at Keio University in Japan (1929-1930). Pearse was an instrumental participant in the creation of the Duke University Marine Laboratory at Beaufort, N.C., in 1938 and served as the lab's first director until 1945. He was also founder and editor of Ecological Monographs (1930-1950), a publication of Duke University Press.
In addition to work within the academy, Pearse was also a special investigator for the United States Bureau of Fisheries, a special member of field staff for the International Health Board, and a special investigator for the Carnegie Institute. Also a member of many scientific societies, he served as president of the Ecology Society of America (1925), American Society of Zoologists (1945), and North Carolina Academy of Science (1951), and as vice president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1936).
During his career Pearse authored about 175 publications on a variety of research interests in the fields of marine zoology and ecology, microbiology, forestry, and parisitology including fresh-water fauna, beach and estuarine animals, the fauna of soil and forest environments, parasitic marine crustacea, and biological adaptation. Titles include General Zoology (1917), The Migration of Animals from Sea to Land (1936), Fauna of the Caves of the Yucatan (1938), and Animal Ecology (1939). He also published a collection of essays, Hell's Bells (1941), and an autobiography, Adventure: Trying to be a Zoologist (1952).
Pearse's research travels - documented by his own photographs - took him to the Nigeria, the Philippines, Japan, Yucatan, Venezuela and numerous locations throughout the United States including Alabama, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Maine, Florida, Texas, and coastal North Carolina.
Irving Emery Gray Papers, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
Marine Laboratory Records, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
Paul Jackson Kramer Papers, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
University Archives Photograph Collection, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
William Preston Few Records and Papers, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- American Association for the Advancement of Science
- American Society of Zoologists
- Duke University. Department of Zoology
- Duke University. Marine Laboratory
- Duke University. School of Forestry
- Few, W. P. (William Preston), 1867-1940
- Pearse, A. S. (Arthur Sperry), 1877-1956
- Adaptation, Biological
- Biology -- Fieldwork
- Coastal biology
- Ecology -- Study and teaching (Higher)
- Forest ecology
- Marine biology
- Marine ecology
- Parasitic diseases
- Parasitic diseases -- Nigeria
- Zoology -- North Carolina
- Zoology -- Study and teaching (Higher)
- Beaufort (N.C.) -- History
- Nigeria -- Photographs
- Nigeria -- Social life and customs
- North Carolina -- Outer Banks -- Photographs
- Yucatán (Mexico : State) -- Social life and customs
- Yucatan Peninsula -- Photographs
The Arthur Sperry Pearse Papers were received by the University Archives as a transfer between 1954-1973.
Processed by Josh Larkin Rowley, April 2009.
Encoded by Josh Larkin Rowley, April 2009
Photographic Materials Series updated and enhanced by Paula Jeannet, February 2019.
Accessions described in this collection guide: UA48-1843, UA48-2038, UA48-2122, UA60-218, UA62-541, UA73-51.