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Life Scientists' and Physical Scientists' Manuscript Papers in Yale Libraries: Home

This guide identifies Yale and non-Yale scientists whose manuscript papers are held in Yale Libraries along with a biographical note on each.


Welcome to the Science Biography Subject Guide. In this guide you'll find:

  • links to online science biographical resources
  • a list of paper sources for science biography by field
  • a list of resources on Nobel Prize Laureates
  • a list of sources for geographically-specialized entries
  • links, citations, and tips for finding resources related to science biography

Life Scientists' Manuscript Papers

Rachel Louise Carson (1907-1964) was the author of bestselling books: The Sea Around Us (1951), The Edge of the Sea (1955), Silent Spring (1962). 

Biographical information: Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography, volume 17 (2008) 

Rachel Carson Papers from Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library

- Rachel Carson papers, 1921-1989 

- Rachel Carson papers addition, 1897-1999 


Sidney Altman (1939-2022) shared The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1989. 

Work related to The Nobel Prize from the Official Website of the Nobel Foundation

Autobiography at the time of the award, from the Official Website of the Nobel Foundation/Les Prix Nobel/Nobel Lectures/The Nobel Prizes 1989

Started as an Assistant Professor at Yale University in 1971 and promoted to full Professor in 1980. Served as Chairman of the biology department, 1983-1985 followed by Dean of Yale College for four years with a return to his role as Professor after that. 

Edited Science at Yale (2002)

Sidney Altman Papers from Manuscripts and Archives 

Sidney Altman papers, ca. 1967-2010 MS 1680

Yale College records of the dean, 1857-2020 Ru 126

Yale University. University Tribunal RU 1115

G. Evelyn Hutchinson (1903-1991) was the author of a number of books, including Treatise on Limnology (4 volumes, 1957-1993), Enchanted Voyage and Other Studies (1962), Introduction to Population Ecology (1978), and Kindly Fruits of the Earth: Recollections of an Embryo Ecologist (1979). 

Biographical information: Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography volume 21 (2008)

G. Evelyn Hutchinson Papers from Manuscripts and Archives MS 649

G. Evelyn Hutchinson Papers, 1875-1992 (inclusive), 1922-1991 (bulk) MS 649

G. Evelyn Hutchinson Papers Relating to Rebecca West, 1927-1988 GEN MSS 240 Beinecke 

G. Evelyn Hutchinson Travel Slide Collection VRC 113 non-circulating Haas Arts Library 


Arthur W. Galston (1920-2008) was a plant physiologist who authored and edited many books: Expanding Horizons in Bioethics (2005) edited with Christina Z. Peppard, New Dimensions in Bioethics: Science, Ethics and the Formulation of Public Policy (2001) edited with Emily G. Shurr and also online, Biology (2001), Control Mechanisms in Plant Development (1970) with Peter J. Davies and also online, Daily Life in People's China (1973) with Jean S. Savage and also online, Green Plant (1968), Green Wisdom (1981) and also onlineLife of the Green Plant (1964) and also online with Peter J. Davies and Ruth L. Satter (1980), Life Processes of Plants (1994) and also online, and Polyamines in Plants (1985) edited with Terence A. Smith online

Biographical information: 

Office of Public Affairs & Communications, Yale University. 2008. In memoriam: Arthur Galston, plant biologist, fought use of Agent OrangeYaleNews. July 18. (Accessed: November 7, 2022)

Troher, Matt. 2022. In retrospect: Arthur Galston and the fight against Agent OrangeThe Daily Illini. August 10. (Accessed: November 7, 2022)

Arthur William Galston Papers from Manuscripts and Archives

Arthur William Galston Papers, 1938-2007 (inclusive) MS 1712


Sidney Dillon Ripley (1913-2001) wrong many books including Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan with Salim Ali (1968-1974, 10 volumes), Birds of Bhutan with Salim Ali and Biswamoy Biswas (1996), Pictorial Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent with Salim Ali (1983), Ornithological Gazetteer of the Indian Subcontinent with Patsy Lozupone and Bruce M. Beehler (2004), Rails: Post-Partum Reflections (1981), Birds of Socotra and Abd-el-Kuri with Gorman M. Bond (1966), Sacred Grove: Essays on Museums (1969) also online.

Biographical information:

S. Dillon Ripley dies at 87; led the Smithsonian Institution during its greatest growth from the New York Times (March 13, 2001 Section B p. 9) (Accessed: Nov. 8, 2022)

S. Dillon Ripley, National Academy of Sciences Member Directory (Accessed: Nov. 8, 2022)

National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoirs - Volume 56 (1987) (Accessed: Nov. 8, 2022) and Volume 62 (1993) (Accessed: Nov. 8, 2022)

Beehler, Bruce M., Pasquier, Roger F., and King, Warren B. 2002. In memoriam: S. Dillon Ripley, 1913-2001. From The Auk 119(4):1110-1113 and BioOne.

S. Dillon Ripley Papers - From Manuscripts and Archives MS 1066 Includes film footage from a trip to Nepal. 

S. Dillon Ripley Papers, 1943-1974 MS 1066


Paul Bigelow Sears (1891-1990) authored a number of books: Deserts on the March (1935) which is sometimes called "a classic in cultural ecology" (Everett, Dianna. The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Cultureaccessed: Nov. 17, 2022), This Is Our World (1937, 1971), Charles Darwin: The Naturalist As a Cultural Force (1950), The Ecology of Man (1957), Soil Fertility and Animal Health (1958), Living Landscape (1966), Life and Environment  (1939), Biology of the Living Landscape (1964), Lands Beyond the Forest  (1969).

Biographical information: from The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture (Accessed: Nov. 14, 2022)

Paul Bigelow Sears Papers - from Manuscripts and Archives MS 663

Paul Bigelow Sears Papers, 1910-1969 (inclusive) MS 663



Ross Granville Harrison (1870-1959) was elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences. He authored a number of books, including The Growth and Regeneration of the Tail of the Frog Larva (1899) and Organization and Development of the Embryo, edited by Sally Wilens (1969, 1988). 

Biographical information: Ross Granville Harrison 1870-1959: A Biographical Memoir by JS Nichols (1961) (Accessed: Nov. 17, 2022)

Ross Granville Harrison Papers MS 263 from Manuscripts and Archives

Ross Granville Harrison papers, 1820-1975 (inclusive), 1889-1959 (bulk) from Orbis 


Edmund Ware Sinnott (1888-1968) was a botanist and he wrote a number of books, including: Botany; Principles and Problems (1929, 1935) and (1955, 1963) with Katherine S. Wilson, Bridge of Life; From Matter to Spirit (1966), Cell and Psyche: The Biology of Purpose (1950, 1961), Matter, Mind and Man; The Biology of Human Nature (1957), and Principles of Genetics (1925, 1939, 1950, 1953, 1958) with LC Dunn and Theodosium Dobzhansky. He was elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences.

Biographical information: Edmund Ware Sinnott 1888-1968 A Biographical Memoir by W. Gordon Whaley (1983) (Accessed: Dec. 2, 2022)

Edmund Ware Sinnott Papers MS 452 from Manuscripts and Archives


Raymond Laurel Lindeman (1915-1942) was an ecologist and he had an association with G. Evelyn Hutchinson. 

Biographical information: Memories of Raymond Laurel Lindeman by Charles B. Reif (1986) from Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America 67(1):20-25 March, courtesy of JSTOR (Accessed: Dec. 2, 2022)

Raymond Laurel Lindeman from Oxford Reference/A Dictionary of Ecology (2022) (Accessed: Dec. 2, 2022)

Raymond Laurel Lindeman Papers MS 815 from Manuscripts and Archives

Raymond Laurel LIndeman papers, 1929-1942 (inclusive), 1938-1942 (bulk) from Orbis 

Alexander Ivanovitch Petrunkevitch (1875-1964) was known for his research on spiders. Some of his books are in English, such as: Amber Spiders in European Collections (1958), Arachnida from Panama (1925), Catalogue of American Spiders, Part 1, Classification of the Araneae with Key to Suborders and Families (1939), Inquiry Into the Natural Classification of Spiders, Based on a Study of Their Internal Anatomy (1933), Monograph of the Terrestrial Palaeozoic Arachnida of North America (1913), Spiders from the Virgin Islands (1926), Spiders of Porto Rico (1929-1930), and more. 


Alexander Ivanovitch Petrunkevitch papers MS 394 from Manuscripts and Archives

Alexander Ivanovitch Petrunkevitch papers, 1886-1964 (inclusive) from Orbis


Physical Scientists' Manuscript Papers

Josiah Willard Gibbs (1839-1903) was a Yale professor who received the country's first engineering doctorate in 1863. Einstein called Gibbs “the greatest mind in American history.”

Gibbs’ papers from the Beinecke, including correspondence, scientific papers, lecture notes, photos, scientific illustrations, and family information.

A feature about Gibbs from Yale Alumni Magazine.

In 2021, Gibbs’ 1878 paper was recognized by the American Chemical Society via a Chemical Breakthrough Award for his explanation of the laws of thermodynamics.

Benjamin Silliman, James Dwight Dana, and Edward Salisbury Dana are grouped together because they were connected by marriage — J. D. Dana married Silliman’s daughter, Henrietta Frances, so E. S. Dana is Silliman’s grandson. The archival documents about these scientists interweave so much that they are being addressed together.

Benjamin Silliman (1779-1864) was a chemist and among the first professors of science at Yale. Silliman founded the American Journal of Science, still published out of the Earth and Planetary Sciences Department.

The Silliman Family Papers in Manuscripts and Archives contain the papers of both Benjamin Silliman and his son of the same name.

Reports to Yale College concerning laboratory expenses in Manuscripts and Archives

A letter and note from Benjamin Silliman in the Beinecke

More reading: A Professor, a President, and a Meteor: The Birth of American Science, Cathryn J. Prince; Benjamin Silliman: A Life in the Young Republic by Chandos Michael Brown

James Dwight Dana (1813-1895) was an important 19th-century earth scientist, with significant contributions in mineralogy.

James Dwight Dana archives at the Peabody Museum of Natural History

Dana Family Papers in Manuscripts and Archives – includes both the elder and younger Dana

Selected letters of James Dwight Dana in SML, on microform

Natland, James H. "Rock Stars; James Dwight Dana (1813-1895); Mineralogist, Zoologist, Geologist, Explorer." GSA Today, vol. 13, no. 2, 2003, pp. 20-21.

Newell, Julie R. "James Dwight Dana and the Emergence of Professional Geology in the United States." American Journal of Science (1880), vol. 297, no. 3, 1997, pp. 273-282.

Further reading: James Dwight Dana: The Life and Thought of an American Scientist by Michael Prendergast; James Dwight Dana: A Special Issue of the American Journal of Science in honor of James Dwight Dana (v.297)

Edward Salisbury Dana (1849-1935) was a mineralogist, although he eventually became a professor of physics.

Dana Family Papers in Manuscripts and Archives – includes both the elder and younger Dana

Yale class standing book in Manuscripts and Archives

E. S. Dana – obituary

E. Dorrit Hoffleit (1907-2007) was a research scientist and astronomer at Yale University who spearheaded the Bright Star Catalog. She is well-known to members of the astronomy community for her professional achievements and was honored by the American Astronomical Society in 1988 with the George van Biesbroeck Prize for her lifetime service to the field.

E. Dorrit Hoffleit papers in Manuscripts and Archives

Dorrit Hoffleit 2007 interview in Manuscripts and Archives, both an audio recording and edited transcript

The Bright Star Catalog

The Bright Star Catalog Supplement

Further reading: Autobiography – Misfortunes as Blessings in Disguise: The Story of My Life

Beatrice Tinsley (1941-1981) was a Yale professor of astronomy who worked in cosmology and questions surrounding galaxies. The New York Times described her as “an insurgent who challenged the academic establishment and became a foremost expert on the aging of galaxies” — she was the first female astronomy professor at Yale.

Biographical information on Beatrice Tinsley in the Manuscripts and Archives file on Yale faculty from 1938-1990

Photograph of Beatrice Tinsley in Manuscripts and Archives

The Evolution of Galaxies and Stellar Populations: Conference at Yale University, May 19-21, 1977, coedited with Richard B. Larson

Collected papers of Professor Tinsley

Margaretta Palmer (1862-1924) was an astronomer who worked in the Yale observatory as a research assistant after earning her doctorate at Yale.

Margaretta Palmer in the Research Files on Astronomers, Observatories, and Telescopes in the papers of Dorrit Hoffleit in Manuscripts and Archives

Determination Of The Orbit Of The Comet 1847 Vi in Manuscripts and Archives

Othniel Charles Marsh (1831-1899) was an important paleontologist, most known for the “Bone Wars” — his competitive struggle with E.D. Cope to discover and classify ancient species through their fossils, including dinosaurs. He produced an enormous body of work and collections that are still used in research and teaching today, primarily held in the Peabody Museum.

Othniel Charles Marsh Archives in the Peabody Museum of Natural History, centered around his scientific research

Othniel Charles Marsh Papers in Manuscripts and Archives, including much correspondence and some family papers

Marsh's works as collected in Manuscripts and Archives, including The Dinosaurs of North America and Odontornithes: A Monograph on the Extinct Toothed Birds of North America

General information about the Yale Physics Department's affiliates (faculty, graduate students, and others) is availale from the American Physical Society. Information about the history of the Earth and Planetary Sciences Department is available in this 1985 paper. Any person mentioned on the APS website or in the 1985 paper likely has at least some documents about them held in Manuscripts and Archives or (rarely) the Beinecke.

In addition, Yale has many noteworthy alums.

Edward Bouchet (1852-1918, Yale PhD) was the first African American Ph.D. in Physics. While the university does not have many objects from his career, the addition of a headstone to his grave in 1999 was filmed.

McAllister Hull (1923-2011; Yale alum, PhD) was drafted into the US Military in 1943, where he worked on the bomb that destroyed Nagasaki. He went on to earn his BA and PhD at Yale. After teaching for some time at Yale, he moved to the University of New Mexico. We have some undated correspondence with Hull.

Ernest Lawrence (1901-1958; Yale alum, PhD) invented the cyclotron (Nobel 1939) and worked on the Manhattan Project. He was a professor at Yale University before moving on to UC Berkeley. We have some miscellaneous papers related to him.

E. R. Ward Neale (1923-2008 Yale alum, PhD) was an important Canadian geologist. We have a copy of his dissertation, Geology of the Bethoulat Lake Area Mistassini Territory, Quebec.

Lyman Spitzer (1914-1997; Yale alum, BA) was an astronomer. The Spitzer Space Telescope bears his name. We have a copy of his 1982 book, Searching Between the Stars and his selected writings book.

Josiah Whitney (1819-1896; Yale alum, BA) was a geologist who became a Harvard professor. We have and a book called Geology with a letter to the elder Professor Dana on the flyleaf.

Arthur Wightman (1922-2013; Yale alum, PhD) went on to become a faculty member at Princeton. He did research on quantum field theory, and Wightman axioms are named for him. His lecture “On the Prescience Gibbs” was recorded in 1989.

Library Resources in Science Biography for Famous and Some Lesser-Known Scientists



This guide provides links, citations, and tips for finding resources related to science biography. 

Famous Scientists and broad coverage:


Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography - Features deceased scientists from ancient times through the 21st Century. Signed articles. Some portraits in black and white. Bibliographies. Index by specialty. Online version of Dictionary of Scientific Biography and New Dictionary of Scientific Biography.  Print editions held at Marx Library, Medical/Historical Library, and SML Starr Main Reference Room.

ORBIS - Online Catalog (books and journals in the Yale University Library System) To find biographies or autobiographies for an individual, enter the person's name in Orbis Advanced search keyword box. An example book is: Spencer Baird of the Smithsonian by EF Rivinius and EM Youssef. Library Shelving Facility QH31 B17 R58X For collective science biography enter a keyword search such as scientists biography or biologists biography. Some biographical indexes are also available which cover entries in collective science biography. These books may be found in Orbis by entering a keyword search such as science bio-bibliography indexes.

The Biographical Dictionary of Scientists. 2 volumes Editors: Roy Porter and Marilyn Ogilvie. 3rd edition Helicon Publishing, c2000. Over 1280 biographies of men and women scientists, living and deceased, from throughout time.  International in scope. Fields covered include: astronomy, botany, biology, chemistry, cosmology, engineering, exploration, geology, mathematics, physics.  Bibliographies for further reading. LSF

Biographical Memoirs, National Academy of Sciences. - Many of these volumes are online through Orbis as well as online through the Academy. Portraits and life events and a selected bibliography for deceased members of the Academy. 1877-

World Biographical Information System. - Database from De Gruyter. Biographical information on > 6 million people starting from the 8th century B.C. to the end of the 20th century. Collects information from 30 biographical archives. Includes Johann Christian Poggendorff's Biographisch-Literarisches Handworterbuch der exakten Naturwissenschaften/Biographisch-Literarisches Handworterbuch zur Geschichte der exacten Wissenschaften. For deceased persons. International in scope and covering all fields. 


Librarian for Life Sciences

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