The Smithsonian Institution Archives 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 interviews conducted by researchers or students on topics related to the history of the Smithsonian or the holdings of the Smithsonian Institution Archives.
David Challinor was interviewed for the Oral History Collection to document his career as a Smithsonian science administrator especially as Assistant Secretary for Science where he coordinated Smithsonian scientific research priorities.
Challinor was interviewed sixteen times in 1998 and 1999 by Smithsonian Institution Archives Historian Pamela M. Henson. The interviews cover his childhood, education, research career, and administrative career at the Peabody Museum at Yale University and the Smithsonian Institution. The collection consists of 24.0 hours of audiotape recording and circa 720 pages of transcript.
David Challinor (1920-2008), a science administrator, received his B.A. from Harvard University in 1943 and his masters and Ph.D. in forest ecology from Yale University in 1959 and 1966. He served as deputy director of the Peabody Museum at Yale from 1960 to 1966, while S. Dillon Ripley served as director there. He followed Ripley, eighth Smithsonian Secretary, to the Smithsonian, serving as special assistant for tropical biology from 1966 to 1967, deputy director from 1967 to 1969 and then director from 1969 to 1971 of the Office of International Activities, as Assistant Secretary for Science from 1971 to 1987, and in 1988 began his service as special advisor to the Secretary. He was then named senior scientist at the National Zoological Park. At the Smithsonian, he oversaw all of the science bureau activities, including the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), National Zoological Park (NZP) and its Conservation and Research Center, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Smithsonian Center for Materials Research and Education, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), as well as special projects in conservation and museum administration.
Smithsonian Institution Archives
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