Skip to main content

Susan A. Tarbell papers

 Record Group
Identifier: MC-118

Content Description

The Susan A. Tarbell papers include photographs (mainly of shipboard activities), news clippings related to Alvin salvage operations, a book of poetry by Susan Tarbell, a postal cover from the Alvin salvage operations, and flag from the WHOI Buoy Group.


  • 1966-1972, 2002

Conditions Governing Access

Open: materials are available for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright: Permission to publish material from the collection must be authorized by the Institution Archivist.

Biographical / Historical

Susan Tarbell was a Senior Research Assistant in the Physical Oceanography Department, working with Nelson Hogg and others on advanced data processing for current meters and other instruments on subsurface moorings. She managed, designed and implemented software for the group, and worked for some time transferring archive data from the VAX system toward an online data archive and retrieval system.

She was born October 13, 1942 and graduated from Wallingford High School in Wallingford, VT, in 1960. She briefly attended the University of Vermont and Rutland Business College in Rutland, VT, before joining Montgomery Ward and Company as a credit department bookkeeper. After several years she joined National Survey group, a mapping organization, in Chester, VT, as a final edit assistant supervisor, working for the firm until 1966.

Susan joined the Institution staff in October 1966 as a laboratory assistant in the Physical Oceanography Department, working with Ferris Webster on data processing for moored buoys. She was promoted in 1968 to Research Assistant and worked with many in the department through the years, including Mel Briscoe, Nick Fofonoff, Bill Schmitz, Dick Payne, Bob Heinmiller, Jim Luyten and most recently Nelson Hogg. Among the first women at WHOI to go to sea routinely in the early 1970s, Susan helped compile the first manual for women scientists at sea in the 1970s and also authored and co-authored a number of technical publications on moored array data. She spoke about some of her experiences at a “Women at Sea” panel discussion in 1998.

Department colleagues often noted that Susan’s quality control and editorial talents were “first class and quite unique” and “as a result the Buoy Group may have the most carefully edited current meter data available anywhere.” Her length and breadth of experience, attention to detail, motivation and sense of responsibility about her work were often cited by colleagues as critical to the data processing success of the Buoy Group, her talents in transferring this data to more advanced computer storage and retrieval systems in recent years deemed “irreplaceable.”


.25 Linear Feet (1 box)




Arranged in a single series: Subject Files

Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Data Library and Archives Repository