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.
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.
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.
Smithsonian Institution Archives
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