Rosa Smith Eigenmann, one of the first female ichthyologists, was born in Monmouth, Illinois in 1858, the youngest of nine children. Her family later moved to California where Rosa finished her secondary schooling at Point Loma Seminary. In California she took an interest in the natural history of the area and joined the San Diego Society of Natural History. She began to collect, observe and identify local species of animals and birds.
Soon after Rosa discovered the bling goby (
) in the Point Loma Peninsula, San Diego, she met ichthyologist David Starr Jordan in 1879. Impressed, Jordan encouraged Rosa to come study with him at Indiana University. She spent two years there before having to go home to help with an illness in her family. However, before she left Jordan introduced her to a German student of his named Carl H. Eigenmann who was in the process of getting his doctorate in ichthyology.
Now back in San Diego, Rosa began formally describing and publishing on various species of blind goby and other fish, and she also continued to correspond with Carl Eigenmann. By the time Rosa and Carl were married on August 20, 1887, Rosa had published nearly 20 papers. The two were curators at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco before going to Harvard to study the Agassiz fish collections. Additionally they spent a great deal of time in South America collecting and studying fresh water fish. Some 150 species of fish are credited to Rosa and Carl. Rosa passed away in 1947.
This accession consists of correspondence documenting the research and collecting of Rosa Smith Eigenmann and her husband Carl H. Eigenmann. The correspondence is from other scientists at universities across the United States, as well as from the Smithsonian Institution and the United States National Museum which received specimens from Rosa. Correspondents include Spencer Fullerton Baird and Samuel Henshaw. There is also a substantial amount of correspondence between Rosa and Carl's daughter Adele Eigenmann and her husband John Oliver Elier. Some materials date from after the death of Rosa. Materials include correspondence, photographs, notes, postcards, clippings, and publications.