Wilmer W. Tanner personal papers

Wilmer W. Tanner examines one of the Bean Museum specimens

Wilmer W. Tanner examines one of the Bean Museum specimens

The University Archives recently acquired the personal papers of Wilmer W. Tanner. Tanner was an undergraduate student at Brigham Young University from 1932 until 1936. After obtaining a graduate degree in zoology, he returned to the university as a faculty member in 1950. He successfully implemented a research program during a time in which the university was focused almost exclusively on undergraduate education. From 1960 to 1967, he edited Herpetologica and succeeded in saving its host organization, the Herpetologists’ League, from financial collapse. Tanner was heavily involved in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, appointed in 1961 (and reappointed in 1966) as secretary-treasurer of the Utah Academy and elected president of the same in 1969 (serving through 1971).

Wilmer Tanner was appointed as the curator of the BYU Life Science Museum in 1972 and quickly began working towards a building for the university’s collections. He worked closely with Monte L. Bean and convinced him to fund the construction of a Life Science Museum building. Bean also decided to donate his extensive trophy collection to the university to augment its life science collection. Tanner oversaw the construction of the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum and was quite pleased with the results. Tanner also worked diligently to create an endowment for the museum. The Bean Museum opened its doors in 1978.

This collection contains extensive correspondence; records documenting the Herpetology League; records of the Herpetologica journal; records highlighting Tanner’s involvement in the American Association for the Advancement of Science; materials documenting various Brigham Young University organizations; records associated with an Atomic Energy Commission project; extensive records and correspondence associated with the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum and its endowment; research notes, charts, and computer printouts; zoology department documents; and various materials of personal interest to Wilmer W. Tanner. The materials date from 1940 to 2009.

The collection is cataloged under the call number MSS 7361 and is titled the Wilmer W. Tanner papers. It is available through the L. Tom Perry Special Collections reference desk (1130 HBLL) in the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University. If you would like to know more about this collection, please contact the University Archivist at (801) 422-5821 or gordon_daines@byu.edu.

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