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Tanner, Wilmer W. (1909-2011)



  • Existence: 1909 - 2011

Biographical History

Wilmer W. Tanner (1909-2011) was a professor and curator at Brigham Young University. He was instrumental in the endowing of the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum.

Wilmer W. Tanner was born in Fairview, Utah, in 1909. After growing up on his father's ranch, he served a mission in the Netherlands from 1929-1932. He later began his undergraduate studies at Brigham Young University. He married Helen Brown in 1935 before graduating in the spring of 1936 with a B.A. in zoology and entomology. He went on to receive a M.A. in zoology in 1937, coupled with a teaching certificate, which yielded him a job teaching biology, geology, and geography at Provo (Utah) High School. After several years of teaching and summers of doing field research, he began doctoral studies at the University of Kansas, obtaining a Ph.D. in 1949 after writing a dissertation on Mexican salamanders.

He began teaching at Brigham Young University shortly after the completion of his doctoral work, successfully implementing 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).

In 1972, Wilmer W. Tanner became the curator of the BYU Life Science Museum and soon after worked through the arrangements that brought the Monte L. Bean trophy collection to Brigham Young University. Tanner then oversaw the construction of the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum at BYU (which opened in 1978) and was instrumental in endowing the museum. Four years after Tanner's wife, Helen, passed away, he married Ottella Watson.

Wilmer W. Tanner is the author of nearly 150 publications. On October 28, 2011 he passed away in his home in Utah.

Leviton, A.E. The generic allocation of Hypsiglena slevini Tanner, 1960: t.p. (Wilmer W. Tanner)

Snakes of Utah, 1995: CIP t.p. (Wilmer W. Tanner) data sheet (Wilmer Webster Tanner; b. 12-17-09)

LC in RLIN, 9-14-92 (hdg.: Tanner, Wilmer W.)

Daily Herald, Nov. 1, 2011 (Wilmer W. Tanner; b. Dec. 17, 1909, in Sanpete County, Utah to John Myron and Lois Ann Stevens Tanner; Nov. 1929, served mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Netherlands; received a BS and MA degree from Brigham Young University in Zoology; taught at Provo High School then obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Kansas in Herpetology; returned to BYU as a faculty member in 1949; m. 1934 to Helen Brown in Salt Lake Temple; m. Otella Tyndal Devey; appointed as the curator of the BYU Life Science Museum in 1972; worked closely with Monte L. Bean for funding of museum construction; d. Oct. 28, 2011)

Wikipedia, via WWW, May 27, 2016 (Wilmer W. Tanner; bachelor degree, Brigham Young University, 1936; master's with thesis on snakes of Utah, 1937; began doctoral work, delayed by World War II until 1946; worked at Kansas University; Ph.D., 1948 with thesis on comparative anatomy of salamanders of Mexico and Central America; died on October 28, 2011.)

Copeia, May 2001: p. 571-572 (Wilmer Webster Tanner; missionary, 1929-1932; taught high school, 1937-1946; studied at University of Kansas, 1946-1948) p. 573 (wife Helen died, 1995)

Found in 12 Collections and/or Records:

Wilmer W. Tanner research, approximately 1950-1980

 Series — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 7361 Series 4
Scope and Contents

Contains records associated with research, including notes, lists of books and reprints ordered and received, budgets, requisitions, data sheets, manuscripts, travel reimbursement records, drawings, charts, plates, computer printouts, and other materials dating from various points between 1950 and 1980 and dealing primarily with herpetology and research in the Nevada Test Site. Materials dated approximately 1950-1980.

Dates: approximately 1950-1980

Wilmer W. Tanner teaching papers, approximately 1950-1980

 Series — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 7361 Series 5
Scope and Contents

Contains correspondence, memoranda, minutes, budgetary records, lectures and lab materials, student papers, etc., all associated with Wilmer W. Tanner's work in the Brigham Young University zoology department, between 1950 and 1980. Materials dated approximately 1950-1980.

Dates: approximately 1950-1980

Additional filters:

Archival Object 8
Collection 4
Letters 8
Herpetology -- Study and teaching -- History -- Sources 4
Minutes (Records) 4
Budgets 3
Colleges and Universities 3