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Henry Bryant Bigelow papers

 Record Group
Identifier: MC-20

Scope and Content Note

The Henry Bryant Bigelow papers consist of correspondence, reports, publications, and drawings by Bigelow.


  • 1913-1962

Language of Materials

The records are in

English and



Open: materials are available for research.


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

Biographical Information

Henry Bryant Bigelow (1879 - 1967) became the first Director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in 1930 and held that position until 1939. In 1927, while Bigelow was Associate Professor of Zoology at Harvard University and Curator of Oceanography at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, he was asked to prepare a report for the Committee on Oceanography of the National Academy of Science. The report was published in 1931 under his name as a book entitled Oceanography; Its Scope, Problems and Economic Importance. It led to the establishment of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, incorporated on January 6, 1930, with a grant from the Rockefeller Institute of $2 million plus $50,000 per year for ten years.

Upon retiring as director in 1939, Bigelow was elected a member and President of the Board of Trustees. WHOI also founded the Henry Bryant Bigelow Chair in Oceanography in 1958. In 1960, recognizing his great service to the Institution, he was named Founder Chairman of the Board. He was also the first recipient of the Henry Bryant Bigelow Medal, an award established that year in his honor.

Henry Bryant Bigelow died on December 11, 1967.


1 box (.25 lin. ft.)


The papers of Henry Bryant Bigelow consist of correspondence, reports, publications, and drawings by Bigelow, and date from 1913-1962.


Arranged in a single series:

List of Series:

Custodial History

The custodial history of the papers is undocumented.

Acquisitions Information

The correspondence folder was received from the Office of the Director on March 1, 1989. Drawings in folder 4 were received from Mary Sears on May 14, 1990.

Related Material

See also AC-41, the Records of the Committee on Oceanography, for related material.

Separated Material

See also the Archives at Harvard University for the Papers of Henry Bryant Bigelow, 1906-1964.

Processing Information

First-level processing completed by David Sherman in March 2010.

A Guide to the the Henry Bryant Bigelow papers, 1913-1962
David Sherman
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written inEnglish

Repository Details

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