This finding aid was digitized with funds generously provided by the Smithsonian Institution Women’s Committee.
This collection contains papers documenting the professional and personal life of E. Yale Dawson, with most of the collection consisting of correspondence with colleagues. There are, in addition, a few segments of field notes and manuscript and typescript copies and drafts of some of his later publications. The collection generally does not include research and field notes, or publications.
Elmer Yale Dawson (1918-1966) came to the Smithsonian Institution in 1965 to accept the newly established position of curator of Cryptogamic Botany in the National Museum of Natural History. Dawson received his A.B. degree in 1940 from the University of California at Berkeley. Two years later he received his Ph.D. from the same institution. The research for his doctoral dissertation he conducted as a member of Captain Allan Hancock's expedition with the Velero III to the Gulf of California. The dissertation was published in 1944 as The Marine Algae of the Gulf of California (A. Hancock Pac. Exped. 3:189-464). After a term of service in the U. S. Army, Dawson was a research associate at the Allan Hancock Foundation, University of Southern California, from 1945 to 1955. In 1956 he was appointed professor of biology at University of Southern California, a position which he held, with some interruptions, until 1964. From 1958 to 1962 he served as research director of the Beaudette Foundation for Biological Research, in 1964 he was director of the San Diego Natural History Museum, and from 1964 until his death he served as secretary of the Americas for the Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands. Dr. Dawson's research specialities included benthic marine algae, especially Rhodophyta of the tropical and subtropical Pacific; and Cactaceae. He published 165 books and papers, 96 of which were related to marine algae, the others mostly to cacti and succulents. Dawson's books include: How to Know the Seaweeds (1956), How to Know the Cacti (1963), The Cacti of California (1966), Seashore Plants of Southern California (1966), Seashore Plants of Northern California (1966), and Marine Botany: An Introduction (1966). On June 22, 1966 Dawson was drowned while diving for seaweeds in the Red Sea.
Smithsonian Institution Archives
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