Oral history interview with Wilmer W. Tanner
Scope and Contents
Typescript of an interview with Wilmer W. Tanner conducted by Morris Klinger on March 16, 1983. The interview was conducted for The Joint Oral History Project Brigham Young University Brigham Young University Alumni Association Emeritus Club. Tanner talks about his early life in Indianola, Utah, his mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the Netherlands, his education, his publications, and his teaching career at Brigham Young University. He also comments on Ernest L. Wilkinson and Monte L. Bean.
- 1983 March 16
- Tanner, Wilmer W. (1909-2011) (interviewee, Person)
- Clinger, Morris M., 1910-1993 (interviewer, Person)
- Joint Oral History Project (Brigham Young University) (contributor, Organization)
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 Oral history interview with Wilmer W. Tanner must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.
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 Mormon 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.
1 folder (0.04 linear ft.)
Language of Materials
University history (University Archives collecting policy, February 2010).
- Register of Oral history interview with Wilmer W. Tanner
- Benjamin Sipes
- 2011 May 23
- 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.