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Vasco M. Tanner papers

Identifier: MSS 2306

Scope and Contents

Contains papers relating to Vasco M. Tanner’s professional and personal life in regards to his work in entomology, biology, and conservation and the relationships he created therein. Professional papers relate to Tanner’s endeavors with entomology and biology in the Utah area, including drafts and publications for The Great Basin Naturalist, research material (books, articles, stamps), and notebooks. Also included in professional papers are curriculum, correspondence, and student files accrued from Tanner’s time teaching entomology and biology as a professor at Brigham Young University. Pamphlets and research relating to the conservation of natural resources, national parks, and national forests were gathered for Tanner’s work in promoting their preservation. Tanner’s personal papers include personal correspondence and family history. Photographs, slides and negatives are from Tanner’s entomology and biology trips as well as Tanner’s personal life and family history. Materials dated approximately 1890-1989.


  • approximately 1890-1989


Conditions Governing Access

Open for public research.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from the Vasco M. Tanner papers must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Coordinating Committee.

Biographical History

Vasco M. Tanner (1892-1989) was an entomologist and zoology and entomology professor at Brigham Young University.

Vasco Myron Tanner was born on October 29, 1892 in Payson, Utah to John Myron and Lois Ann Tanner. Tanner graduated from Brigham Young University in 1915 with a B.A. in biology. After completing coursework for a Master’s degree in Geology from the University of Utah, he taught high school for a year in Moroni, Utah and taught two years at Dixie Junior College, before officially graduating with his Master’s in 1920. During this time he met Annie Atkin at Dixie Junior College, whom he married on June 5, 1917. Tanner returned to his teaching position at Dixie Junior College, where he remained until 1924. During the summers of 1921 and 1923 he pursued a PhD at Stanford University, befriending David Starr Jordan who convinced him to study entomology. He earned his PhD in 1925 in zoology and entomology, with his dissertation on the morphology of the genitalia of female beetles. In the same year, he accepted a position as teacher for and chairman of the zoology and entomology department at Brigham Young University. He was chair until 1958 and teacher until 1970.

Tanner founded The Great Basin Naturalist in 1939 which he published and edited. He was awarded the Karl G. Maeser award for teaching excellence in 1972. He was chairman of the forestry and flood control committee in Provo’s chamber of commerce for thirty-five years and chairman of the city utilities board for twenty years. Tanner also spent time as a member of the Utah state parks and recreation commission, as president of the Sons of the Utah Pioneers, and as secretary and editor for the Utah Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1964, he was a Democratic state congressman candidate.

With his wife Annie they had five children, Carol, Marilyn, Carmela, Gloria, and Jordan, and helped raise Ahmed Shayesteh from age ten. Tanner passed away on April, 25 1989 in Utah.


68 cartons (68 linear ft.)

31 boxes (15.5 linear ft.)

7 oversize boxes (3.5 linear ft.)

1 oversize box (0.2 linear ft.)

1 ledger box (1 linear ft.)

1 oversize box (1.4 linear ft.)

1 oversize box (0.9 linear ft.)

1 oversize folder (0.20 linear ft.)

Language of Materials



Arranged in three series: 1. Vasco M. Tanner family papers. 2. Vasco M. Tanner professional papers. 3. Vasco M. Tanner photographs.

Custodial History

Bulk donated by Vasco M. Tanner, 1978-1981. Later additions donated by Jordan Tanner, son of Vasco M. Tanner, in 1997, 2015 and 2016.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; Vasco M. Tanner; November 23, 1977. Donated; Vasco M. Tanner; October 1978. Donated; Vasco M. Tanner; January 22, 1979. Donated; Vasco M. Tanner; November 22, 1979. Donated; Vasco M. Tanner; December 21, 1981. Acquired (see general note); December 27, 1982 Donated; Carol K. Smith (see general note); May 6, 1986. Donated; Jordan Tanner; December, 30, 1997. Donated; Jordan Tanner; March 2015. Donated; Jordan Tanner; March 2016.


Utah and the American West and LDS cultural, social, and religious history (20th Century Western and Mormon Manuscripts collection development policy 5.III, 5.V, March 2018).

Related Materials

See Oral history interview with Vasco M. Tanner (MSS 6743).

Related Materials

See MSS 4170 casefile for materials removed from the collection and separately catalogued as the Brigham Young Academy South American Expedition, 1899-1975.

Related Materials

UA 912 Vasco Tanner collection: List of materials acquired by the museum, including art pieces, animal specimens, church history artifacts, plant specimens. Provenance: Herb Frost came across these pages in the Vasco Tanner collection (MSS 2306 Vasco M. Tanner papers) on 6 January 2000. It was determined that they should be catalogued as a unique collection in the University Archives.

Separated Materials

Specific materials removed by Special Collections volunteer and transferred to the Monty Bean Museum in the 1980s.


Cartons 16 and 17 transferred to MSS 280 in 20th Century repository.


Portions of collection previously processed as UA 490 and UA 128; everything is currently processed under MSS 2306.


Accession A1982-00-266 listed as, "1 box of miscellaneous papers and files," has no mention of a immediate source of acquisition. The location is said in Accession Log 1959-1994-rachel-done as being the "West stairwell." It is assumed to be currently in this collection.


Donation of "Vasco Tanner Scrapbooks" by Carol K. Smith (A1986-00-102, donated 1986-05-06) noted as having been returned to Rebecca Bailey; however, scrapbooks matching the description exist in the collection.

Processing Information

Processed; Colette Burton, student manuscript processor, and John M. Murphy, curator; 2018.

Register of Vasco M. Tanner papers
Colette Burton
2018 March 9
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States