William Healey Dall Papers,
circa 1839-1858, 1862-1927
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
Record Unit 7073
Creators:
Dall, William Healey, 1845-1927
Dates:
circa 1839-1858, 1862-1927
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
32.36 cu. ft. (5 record storage boxes) (51 document boxes) (1 half document box) (4 5x8 boxes) (3 oversize folders)
Repository:
Smithsonian Institution Archives

Introduction
Introduction
This finding aid was digitized with funds generously provided by the Smithsonian Institution Women’s Committee.

Descriptive Entry
Descriptive Entry
This collection contains papers documenting the scientific and personal life of Dall, especially the Western Union Telegraph Expedition to Alaska (1865-1868). Included are daily diaries, 1865-1927; Western Union Telegraph Expedition material containing diaries, scrapbooks, field notes, financial accounts, specimen collection notebooks and incoming and outgoing correspondence regarding Alaskan towns, topography, mineral resources, biology and zoology of Alaska, customs of the Russian-Americans and Alaskan Indian natives, along with sketches of the latter, their housing, clothing and utensils; description of the intrigue among the members of the Western Union Telegraph Expedition; Robert Kennicott's field notes; Dall correspondence regarding Kennicott's leadership of the expedition; Dall and others regarding Kennicott's death; diaries, correspondence, financial accounts, specimen collection notebooks and field notes regarding Dall's explorations to Alaska (1871-1876, 1879-1880) under the United States Coast Survey, and his explorations to the Pacific coast and Florida under the United States Geological Survey; reports to Secretary of State, Thomas Francis Bayard, regarding the Alaska-Canada Boundary Question, 1885, 1888; reports for the United States Coast Survey, United States Geological Survey, Division of Cenozoic Paleontology, and United States National Museum, Division of Mollusks, regarding their progress under Dall's leadership; incoming and outgoing correspondence between Dall and his colleagues, administrators of scientific and educational organizations, editors, publishers, family members, friends, private collectors of mollusca, and scientific and social societies regarding membership and membership meetings, identification of fossil collections, publications and manuscripts, personal and family problems, student theses, appointment to the United States Geological Survey, honorary degrees, politics, economics, social conditions in Washington, D.C., and Dall's personal views regarding his own professional competency and social status; awards; photographs of Dall, his friends, and members of his expeditions; publications on mollusca, catalogues of mollusk lists, mollusk plates on Dall's Contributions to the Tertiary Fauna of Florida, and his unpublished work on Hawaiian Island mollusca; Dall's manuscript biography of Spencer Fullerton Baird; Dall's publications and newspaper articles; poetry written by his father; and material on the genealogy of Dall and his family.

Historical Note
Historical Note
Dean of Alaskan explorations and one of the last of the disappearing class of "systematic naturalists," which included Agassiz, Baird, and Audubon, William H. Dall (1845-1927) was born in Boston to Charles Henry Appleton Dall, a Unitarian minister, and Caroline Wells (Healey), a feminist and publicist. Educated in the public school system, Dall did not go on to attend Harvard after graduating from the Boston Latin School. Instead, he pursued his interests in zoology and medicine by studying under the guidance of Agassiz, Augustus A. Gould, and Jeffries Wyman. Dall's special interest in mollusca came about quite accidentally as a result of his reading Gould's Report on the Invertebrata of Massachusetts. Dall soon left for Chicago to earn his livelihood, and there he met Robert Kennicott and William Stimpson, both members of the Chicago Academy of Sciences, where Dall attended evenings to continue his scientific studies.
When Kennicott was given command of the Western Union Telegraph Expedition to Alaska in 1865, whose mission was to find a means of establishing a communications system with Europe by way of Alaska, the Bering Straits, and Asia, Dall, aged twenty, was invited along as a member of the group's scientific party. Upon Kennicott's death in 1866, Dall was placed in charge of the Scientific Corps. When the expedition was abruptly terminated by the successful laying of the Atlantic cable, Dall volunteered to stay on an extra year in order to complete the scientific project. In 1871, Dall was appointed to the United States Coast Survey (USCS), under whose auspices he continued his studies on Alaska and the northern Pacific Coast. Dall left the USCS in 1884 to accept the rank of paleontologist with the United States Geological Survey (USGS), a position which he held until 1925.
Having forwarded fossil specimens he had collected as a youth to the Smithsonian Institution, and with the collections of the Alaskan expedition being sent there also, Dall, upon his arrival in Washington, D.C., in 1868, voluntarily began to assemble and describe the collections of mollusca and other organisms stored by the United States National Museum (USNM) while working on his publication regarding Alaska. In 1880, Dall was officially appointed honorary curator at the USNM, Division of Mollusks, a position he held until his death and without remuneration, as he could not be paid for both his work with the USGS and the USNM.
Dall was a prolific writer. Between his earliest writings on the Alaskan expedition in 1865 as a correspondent for the Alta California until his death in 1927, Dall published more than five-hundred scientific short papers. Among his larger works, Dall's Contributions to the Tertiary Fauna of Florida, 6 volumes (1890-1903), is still considered the most important American publication on cenozoic molluscan paleontology. Dall's other writings include Alaska and its Resources (1870) and his biography, Spencer Fullerton Baird (1915). Among his honorary degrees and awards, Dall was awarded the Gold Medal by the Wagner Free Institute of Science, Philadelphia (1899), for his work on paleontology; the Honorary Doctor of Science degree, University of Pennsylvania (1904); and the Honorary Doctor of Laws degree, George Washington University (1915).

Notes
Personal Papers

Using the Collection
Prefered Citation
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7073, William Healey Dall Papers

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Dall, William Healey, 1845-1927 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Gould, Augustus A. (Augustus Addison), 1805-1866 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Baird, Spencer Fullerton, 1823-1887 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Kennicott, Robert, 1835-1866 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Bayard, Thomas F. (Thomas Francis), 1828-1898 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Agassiz, Alexander, 1835-1910 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Boas, Franz 1858-1942 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Garrison, Wendell Phillips, 1840-1907 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Henry, Joseph, 1797-1878 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hilgard, J. E. (Julius Erasmus), 1825-1891 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Jeffreys, John Gwyn, 1809-1885 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Scudder, Samuel Hubbard, 1837-1911 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Stimpson, William, 1832-1872 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Verrill, A. E. (Addison Emery), 1839-1926 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Villard, Oswald Garrison, 1872-1949 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Goode, G. Brown (George Brown), 1851-1896 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
United States National Museum. Division of Mollusks Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
United States Coast Survey Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Geological Survey (U.S.) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Western Union Telegraph Expedition (1865-1867) Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Invertebrate zoology Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Natural history Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Paleontology Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Scientific illustrations Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Maps Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Diaries Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Field notes Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Scientific illustrations Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Scrapbooks Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Smithsonian Institution Archives
Washington, D.C.
Contact us at osiaref@si.edu