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Charles Otis Whitman papers

 Record Group
Identifier: MC-MBL-Whitman

Scope and Contents

The collection, dating from 1882 to 1910, covers the time just before and during Whitman’s term as director of the MBL. The papers include correspondence in box one and publications and reprints box two.


  • 1882-1910

Conditions Governing Access

Open: materials are available for research.

Biographical Information

Whitman was an embryologist and morphologist, a pioneer in the field of ethology, and founder of the Journal of Morphology. He attended the Anderson School of Natural History in 1873 and 1874 and was influenced by the school’s director, Louis Agassiz. He continued his studies at Stazione Zoologica under Anton Dohrn, and then at the University of Leipzig under Rudolf Leuckart, where he completed his PhD in 1878. He also spent two years at the Imperial University of Tokyo. Whitman finally settled at the University of Chicago in 1892.

Whitman was the first director of the Marine Biological Laboratory, from 1888-1907. Along with Frank Rattray Lillie, he started the MBL Embryology course in 1893. He served as a trustee from 1908 to 1909.


2 boxes (two 12" x 5" boxes)




The papers are grouped into two series:

I.A. – Correspondence

I.B. – Publications and Reprints

Physical Location

Two boxes: Lillie Building, 101, Rare Books Room [RBR: Shelves]

Related Materials

The University of Chicago maintains a collection of Charles O. Whitman papers in the Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library. A finding aid is available at

Processing Information

The Whitman papers were originally part of a sequentially-numbered series of manuscript boxes, the first two boxes and a small pile being the papers of Charles Otis Whitman (the other boxes pertained to Frank Rattray Lillie). Papers were left in their original order.

Materials have been cataloged to the item level. The detailed box and folder listing is available at

Processed January 14, 2016. Finding aid revised by Katy Sternberger, June 2016.

Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Marine Biological Laboratory Archives Repository