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Wilmer W. Tanner papers on professional organizations, approximately 1950-1980

Identifier: MSS 7361 Series 2

Scope and Contents

Contains a variety of records including correspondence, manuscripts submitted for publication, pamphlets and directories, financial records and ledgers, proposals, reports, minutes, all associated with various professional,academic and governmental organizations with which Wilmer W. Tanner worked during the 1950s to the 1970s. Materials dated approximately 1950-1980.


  • approximately 1950-1980


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 Wilmer W. Tanner papers must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Coordinating Committee.

Biographical History

From the Collection:

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.


27 folders

2 boxes

Language of Materials



This series has been arranged into four subseries: 1. Herpetologists' League records, 1960-1980. 2. Wilmer W. Tanner papers on U.S. Atomic Energy Commission project, 1959-1968. 3. American Association for the Advancement of Science records, 1960-1977. 4. Wilmer W. Tanner collection of professional organization records, 1950-1980.

The documents in this series are as Wilmer W. Tanner arranged them at the level of the folder, though the folders themselves have been rearranged in groupings according to the various organizations as appropriate.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States