Register of the Ralph Vary Chamberlin Papers,

Table of Contents

Collection Overview

Collection Inventory+/-

Biographical Note/Historical Note

Content Description

Collection Use

Administrative Information

Collection Overview +/-

Title: Ralph Vary Chamberlin Papers
Dates: 1940-1967 (inclusive)
Collection Number: Mss B 20
Summary: Biologist and historian. Correspondence, research notes, scrapbooks and lectures. Research notes on early Mormon and Utah history, the history of education in the United States and Utah, biographical notes on John Rockey Park, and notes on the history of the University of Utah.
Repository: Utah State Historical Society

Collection Inventory +/-

Box Folder Contents
box , folder : Correspondence, sources, and research notes
box 1, folder 1 : Correspondence, A-C
box 1, folder 2 : Correspondence, D-F
box 1, folder 3 : Correspondence, G-J
box 1, folder 4 : Correspondence, K-M
box 1, folder 5 : Correspondence, N-P
box 1, folder 6 : Correspondence, S-T
box 1, folder 7 : Correspondence, U-Z
box 1, folder 8 : Correspondence regarding John C. Bennett
box 1, folder 9 : Publications of Frederick C. Waite
box 1, folder 10 : Diaries of Hosea Stout and S. W. Richards [typescript]
box 1, folder 11 : Journal of Erastus Snow [typescript]
box 1, folder 12 : Notes on Mormon entry into Great Salt Lake Valley
box 1, folder 13 : Samuel Russell notes and writings on Mormon entry into Great Salt Lake Valley
box 1, folder 14 : Diary of Ethan Pettit, 1869-1878 [typescript]
box 1, folder 15 : Notes on early Utah and Mormon history
box , folder : General notes on education in America and Utah
box 2, folder 1 : Notes on the history of education
box 2, folder 2 : Notes on early Mormon education
box 2, folder 3 : Notes on early Utah education
box 2, folder 4 : "Education in Utah"
box 2, folder 5 : Palmer, William R., "Forgotten Chapters of History: Territorial Days Public Schools"
box 2, folder 6 : Washington County schools, ca. 1870-1900 [original school records]
box 2, folder 7- 10 : St. George Normal School [original records]
box 2, folder 11 : Brigham Young Academy
box 2, folder 12 : Morgan Commercial College and Normal School
box 2, folder 13 : Laws Endowing the University of Utah
box 2, folder 14 : "Former Homes of the University of Utah"
box 2, folder 15 : "A Western Institution"
box 2, folder 16 : "In Retrospect"
box 2, folder 17 : Roylance, William G., "Historical Sketch"
box 2, folder 18 : "Deseret University of Utah"
box 2, folder 19 : "The University of Deseret"
box 2, folder 20 : Daybook of the University of Deseret
box 2, folder 21 : "The University of Utah"--I
box 2, folder 22 : "The University of Utah"--II
box 2, folder 23 : "The University of Utah"--III
box , folder : Notes on John Rockey Park
box 3, folder 1 : Seneca County (Ohio) Academy
box 3, folder 2 : Heidelberg College (Ohio)
box 3, folder 3 : Ohio Wesleyan University
box 3, folder 4 : New York University
box 3, folder 5 : John Rockey Park Scrapbook
box 4, folder 1 : Notes on Draper, Utah
box 4, folder 2 : Draper, Utah: "The 'Far West' Neighborhood"
box 4, folder 3 : Draper, Utah: "Rockwell's Station Pony Express"
box 4, folder 4 : Draper, Utah: Andrew Jackson Allen diary
box 4, folder 5 : Journal of John Rockey Park [typescript]
box 4, folder 6 : Papers of John Rockey Park [typescript]
box 4, folder 7- 8 : Notes on John Rockey Park
box 4, folder 9- 12 : Genealogy of John Rockey Park
box , folder : Notes on the History of the University of Utah
box 5, folder 1 : Chronology, 1850-1950
box 5, folder 2 : David Robert Allen autobiography and diary [original and typescript]
box 5, folder 3 : W. H. Chamberlin diary
box 5, folder 4 : Faculty meeting minutes, 1885-1892
box 5, folder 5 : Faculty meeting minutes, 1893-1894
box 5, folder 6 : Faculty meeting minutes, 1895-1910
box 5, folder 7 : Faculty meeting minutes, 1911-1915
box 5, folder 8 : Faculty meeting minutes, 1916-1931
box 5, folder 9 : Board of Regents Minutes, 1850-1880
box 5, folder 10 : Board of Regents Minutes, 1881-1889
box 5, folder 11 : Board of Regents Minutes, 1890-1894
box 5, folder 12 : Board of Regents Minutes, 1895-1899
box 5, folder 13 : Board of Regents Minutes, 1900-1905
box 5, folder 14 : Board of Regents Minutes, 1906-1909
box 5, folder 15 : Board of Regents Minutes, 1910-1914
box 5, folder 16 : Deans Council Minutes, 1916-1950
box 6, folder 1 : "The Controversy of 1915"
box 6, folder 2- 5 : Notes, c. 1927-1941
box 6, folder 6 : Notes on Daily Utah Chronicle,1941-1944
box 6, folder 7- 9 : Special interest groups, fraternities, sororities
box 6, folder 10 : Societies and class affairs
box 6, folder 11 : Student organizations
box 6, folder 12 : Honorary and professional societies
box 6, folder 13 : Scrapbook on the Controversy of 1915
box 7, folder 1 : School of Mines and Engineering
box 7, folder 2 : C. Lowell Lees, "The Speech and Theatre Arts Department"
box 7, folder 3 : Walter A. Kerr, "Utah's First [Football] Team"
box 7, folder 4 : Comparative Religion class notes, 1923
box 7, folder 5- 8 : Miscellaneous notes
box 7, folder 9 : Newspaper notes
box , folder : Newspaper research on the University of Utah
box 8, folder 1 : Notes, ca. 1850-1859
box 8, folder 2 : Notes, ca. 1860-1879
box 8, folder 3 : Notes, ca. 1870-1879
box 8, folder 4 : Notes, ca. 1880-1890
box 8, folder 5 : Notes, ca. 1880-1900
box 8, folder 6 : Notes, ca. 1882-1900
box 8, folder 7 : Notes, ca. 1892-1900
box , folder : Biographical files
box 9, folder 1 : "Early University Faculty Members"
box 9, folder 2 : Biographies, A-C
box 9, folder 2 1: Aber, William M.
box 9, folder 2 2: Allen, David Robert
box 9, folder 2 3: Appleby, William I.
box 9, folder 2 4: Armstrong, Ike J.
box 9, folder 2 5: Arnoldson, Torild
box 9, folder 2 6: Augsburg, D. R.
box 9, folder 2 7: Babcock, Maud May
box 9, folder 2 8: Barfoot, J. L.
box 9, folder 2 9: Benedict, Francis Denton
box 9, folder 2 10: Benedict, J. M.
box 9, folder 2 11: Bennion, Alfred, Jr.
box 9, folder 2 12: Bennion, Milton
box 9, folder 2 13: Caine, John T., Jr.
box 9, folder 2 14: Calder, David 0.
box 9, folder 2 15: Careless, George
box 9, folder 2 16: Cobb, James Thornton
box 9, folder 2 17: Coray, George Q.
box 9, folder 2 18: Couch, Sherman R.
box 9, folder 2 19: Cowles, Leroy Eugene
box 9, folder 2 20: Cummings, Byron
box 9, folder 3 : Bennett, John C.
box 9, folder 4 : Bishop, Francis Marion
box 9, folder 5 : Biographies, D-L
box 9, folder 5 1: Daines, Luther Lyman
box 9, folder 5 2: Fitzpatrick, Thomas M.
box 9, folder 5 3: Fox, Jesse W.
box 9, folder 5 4: Hardy, M. H.
box 9, folder 5 5: Holmes, Harvey R.
box 9, folder 5 6: Jensen, A. C.
box 9, folder 5 7: Jones, Marcus E.
box 9, folder 5 8: Kerr, Walter A.
box 9, folder 5 9: Kerr, William J.
box 9, folder 5 10: Kesler, Frederick, Jr.
box 9, folder 5 11: Kingsbury, Joesph T.
box 9, folder 5 12: Leary, William H.
box 9, folder 5 13: Lewis, T. D.
box 9, folder 5 14: Lyman, Richard R.
box 9, folder 6 : Biographies, M-N
box 9, folder 6 1: Maddock, Joseph H.
box 9, folder 6 2: Maeser, Karl G.
box 9, folder 6 3: Marshall, George M.
box 9, folder 6 4: Marshall, H. Leo
box 9, folder 6 5: Mathews, George Raynolds
box 9, folder 6 6: Merrill, Joseph F.
box 9, folder 6 7: Miller, Newton
box 9, folder 6 8: Moench, Louis F.
box 9, folder 6 9: Montgomery, Henry
box 9, folder 6 10: Morgan, John
box 9, folder 6 11: Morgan, Nicholas G.
box 9, folder 6 12: Neff, Sherman Brown
box 9, folder 6 13: Nielsen, Einar
box 9, folder 6 14: Norgren, Nelson H.
box 9, folder 7 : Biographies, O-S
box 9, folder 7 1: Parmelee, Theron S.
box 9, folder 7 2: Pack, Frederick J.
box 9, folder 7 3: Paul, J. H.
box 9, folder 7 4: Peterson, Vadal
box 9, folder 7 5: Phelps, William Wines
box 9, folder 7 6: Pratt, Orson
box 9, folder 7 7: Rawlins, Joseph L.
box 9, folder 7 8: Reynolds, Frederick W.
box 9, folder 7 9: Richards, Samuel Whitney
box 9, folder 7 10: Riggs, Obadiah Higbee
box 9, folder 7 11: Roberts, Brigham H.
box 9, folder 7 12: Schleckman, Karl
box 9, folder 7 13: Seixas, Joshua
box 9, folder 7 14: Snow, Zerubbabel
box 9, folder 7 15: Spencer, Orson
box 9, folder 7 16: Stephens, Evans
box 9, folder 7 17: Stewart, William M.
box 9, folder 7 18: Stookey, Walter M.
box 9, folder 7 19: Stout, Hosea
box 9, folder 7 20: Sugden, John W.
box 9, folder 8 : Ottinger, George M.
box 9, folder 9 : Thomas, George
box 9, folder 10 : Biographies, T-Z
box 9, folder 10 1: Talmage, James E.
box 9, folder 10 2: Toronto, Joseph
box 9, folder 10 3: Welch, Charles
box 9, folder 10 4: Wells, Daniel H.
box 9, folder 10 5: Whiting, C. A.
box 9, folder 10 6: Widtsoe, John A.
box 9, folder 10 7: Woodbury, Angus M.
box 9, folder 10 8: Wright, Walter King
box , folder : Speeches and Lectures
box 10, folder 1 : "Astronomy: The System of the Stars"
box 10, folder 2 : "The Biological Basis of Human Behavior"
box 10, folder 3 : "The Biological Front"
box 10, folder 4 : "The Conflict Between Science and Religion"
box 10, folder 5 : "Charles Darwin"
box 10, folder 6 : "Dewey--Arnold--Browning"
box 10, folder 7 : "The Early Hebrew Conception of the Universe"
box 10, folder 8 : "Europe on the Nazi Forge"
box 10, folder 9 : "Heredity and Environment," November 1930 [radio talk]
box 10, folder 10 : "Thomas Henry Huxley"
box 10, folder 11 : "Life in the Waters of Great Salt Lake"
box 10, folder 12 : Mexican archaeology--various notes and writings
box 10, folder 13 : "Mutual Aid"
box 10, folder 14 : "Sir Isaac Newton"
box 10, folder 15 : "Our Heritage From the Past, Our Debt to the Future"
box 10, folder 16 : "Our Social Heritage"
box 10, folder 17 : "Science and Reality"
box 10, folder 18 : "The Scientific Spirit"
box 10, folder 19 : "Since Darwin's Day"
box 10, folder 20 : "Some Recent Advances in Zoology"
box 10, folder 21 : "Trends in Cultural Education"
box 10, folder 22 : "What is Mathematical Logic?"
box 10, folder 23 : "The World View of the Old Testament"
box 10, folder 24 : Miscellaneous

Biographical Note/Historical Note +/-

One of Utah's most prolific and respected zoologists with 407 scientific publications to his credit, Dr. Ralph Vary Chamberlin became, during his seventh and eighth decades, a historian of considerable skill. His Memories-John R. Park (1949) and The University of Utah: A History of Its First Hundred Years--1850-1950 (1960) are both standard works. Though Chamberlin's education, research, and teaching experience ranged far from his native Utah, it was as head of the biology department of the University of Utah and historian of that institution that he is most prominently identified.

Chamberlin was born in 1879 in Salt Lake City to W. H. and Frances Chamberlin. His home environment was a powerful influence on his development as a scholar. His brother was a Professor of Mathematics and the earth sciences at Utah State Agricultural College and Brigham Young College who became interested in religious philosophy and even did graduate work in that field at Harvard. The brother became a leader among Utahns interested in intellectual freedom. Ralph Vary Chamberlin's first book, Life and Philosophy of W. H. Chamberlin (1925), was a tribute to his brother's intellectual integrity and influence. Although he eventually surpassed his brother's achievement as a scholar, Chamberlin's commitment to excellence in one chosen field never eclipsed the wide-ranging intellectual interests developed within his family.

Upon completion of his undergraduate work at the University of Utah in 1898, Chamberlin taught at LDS High School for four years, then received a Smith Fellowship at Cornell, where he earned his Ph.D. in 1904. He joined the University of Utah faculty the following year and became one of the founders of the two-year medical school program, serving as Dean of that school until 1907. In that year he left Utah for the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard. For fifteen years Chamberlin was head of the research division in the Department of Comparative Zoology. In 1926 he took up his final academic post as head of the Departments of Zoology and Botany at the University of Utah and served for some thirty years in that capacity.

It was well after his return to Utah in 1926 that he developed the interest in the history of the university that would open up a new career for him and lead to important discoveries and publications in the fields of biography and history. It began modestly in a desire to write a history of the Department of Biology, but expanded dramatically and inexorably as his vigorous intellect continued to pursue causes and themes ever further back in time and outward in geography. The finished product was his massive history of The University of Utah, and its preliminary Memories of John R. Park, but Chamberlin found it possible to use in those publications only a part of the immense research files assembled in their support.

As a historian, Chamberlin was more of a compiler than an interpreter, but his books are rich mines of information. His long affiliation with the university as both student and faculty member provided close contacts with alumni and former faculty, and his personal memory and experience gave him a knowledge of the important lines of development in the history of that institution. His books are full of pride in the university, generated no doubt both by long association and the rapidly developing professionalism during the presidency of A. Ray Olpin, but Chamberlin is objective enough to recount in detail the university's less admirable moments like the "controversy of 1915," which led to the resignation of several highly respected faculty members and Dean Byron Cummings.

Chamberlin's personal life was somewhat less triumphal than his professional career. Although married to Daisy Ferguson of Salt Lake City in 1899, the marriage broke up after eleven years and four children. Chamberlin remarried in 1922; he and the former Edith Simons had six children. The second Mrs. Chamberlin died in 1965. At age seventy-eight, Chamberlin was honored at a special dinner hosted by his university colleagues, an occasion marked by the presentation of many gifts and awards and the unveiling of a portrait by Professor Alvin Gittins of the University of Utah Art Department. He died in Salt Lake City in 1967 at age eighty-eight.

Content Description +/-

The Ralph Vary Chamberlin Papers contain virtually nothing on his personal life, education, or scientific and teaching career; instead, they are devoted almost entirely to his research on the history of the University of Utah and related topics. Those related topics range fairly widely, including reading notes on general American cultural history, the history of education, early Mormon and Utah education, and the careers of several people who figure prominently in the educational history of the Latter-day Saints and Utah: John C. Bennett, John Rockey Park, Francis Marion Bishop, and others. There are notes on only one topic not directly related to the history of the University of Utah or Utah and Mormon education: the establishment of the "This Is The Place" Monument, to which Chamberlin contributed research.

Chamberlin's research began with the narrow focus of the history of the biology department and gradually extended outward, both chronologically and geographically. The papers have been generally arranged with the earlier and marginally related material preceding the material on the University of Utah. Most of this earlier material is in the first two boxes, which begin with Chamberlin's correspondence files for the late 1940s and l950s, arranged in rough alphabetical order. Of especial interest are the files of letters from prominent historian Dale L. Morgan regarding the initial Mormon penetration into the valley of the Great Salt Lake and the career of John C. Bennett. This part of the collection also includes transcribed excerpts from the diaries of several Mormon pioneer leaders and polemical comments on the history of the Mormon arrival in Great Salt Lake Valley by Samuel Russell.

The presence in the collection of the diary of Ethan Pettit for the years 1869-78 is not readily explicable, for Pettit seems not to have been involved in any developments of major interest to Chamberlin. The diary, nevertheless, is quite important. Pettit was a member of the Elk Mountain Mission who later settled in the old Nineteenth Ward of Salt Lake City, in the vicinity of Beck's Hot Springs. In the low ground between the springs and the Great Salt Lake, Pettit built fish ponds and made a living selling fish and wild game in Salt Lake City. The diary is an excellent day-to-day account of the life on one of Zion's foot soldiers and superbly documents a rather unusual but productive occupation and an important area of Salt Lake City.

Box 2 contains most of Chamberlin's notes on the history of education. The attached inventory is largely self-explanatory, but attention should perhaps be called to the transcript of the "Daybook of the University of Deseret" found and made available to Chamberlin by Dale Morgan, and the several folders of original school records for Washington County and St. George discovered by Juanita Brooks. The latter documents are of especially great importance. Chamberlin made very little use of them, and they would support a much more ambitious history of education in that southern Utah county than has yet been attempted.

The main body of Chamberlin's research on the history of the University of Utah begins with his genealogical and biographical notes on John Rockey Park in Boxes 3 and 4. Again, a much more extensive use could be made of these notes than Chamberlin was able to accomplish in either the Park book of the university history. Park's personality and career clearly captured Chamberlin's imagination, and the notes include material on the most minute aspects of Park's life, from his genealogy over many generations, to the social background of education in Ohio where Park was born and trained, to the history of Draper, Utah where he first taught in Utah, and the early years of the University of Deseret, which Park shaped into a professionally respectable institution. The Draper notes include diaries and interviews conducted by Chamberlin with older residents, and they embrace a much greater scope than just the Park years there.

The University of Utah notes from Box 5 to Box 8 are the heart of the collection, but they require little explanation. The arrangement scheme in this section of the papers is fairly crude, but it is assumed that with the help of the attached inventory, the researcher interested in specific aspects of the history of the university can locate what he wants.

The biographical files in Box 9 are quite important. Most of them were published in the biographical appendix to the university history, but others are unpublished notes in various states of polish. A complete list of names of those included in these files appears at the end of this register.

Box 10 contains a selection of Chamberlin's speeches and lectures on a wide variety of topics. Most of these are in finished form exactly as delivered, and they illustrate his wide-ranging interests and competence. This part of the collection, too, is the only part containing any evidence of Chamberlin's scientific work and thought.

Collection Use +/-

Restrictions on Access:

Restrictions on Access

Administrative Information +/-



Chamberlin, Ralph Vary, 1879-1967.




Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant, 2007-2008


10 boxes (5 linear ft.)

Language of the Finding Aid:

Finding aid written in Englishin Latin script

EAD Creation Date: