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Collection Overview
 
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Description
The collection consists of scuba diving pioneer Conrad Limbaugh's professional files, correspondence, field notes, writings, photographic media and films.
Background
Conrad Limbaugh (1924-1960) was a forerunner in the development of scuba diving standards. He began his diving career as a skin-diving enthusiast in the 1930s, exploring the coasts of Long Beach as a teenager. He received a B.A. in Biology from Whittier College in 1949 and commenced his graduate studies through the zoology department at UCLA. It was during this time that Limbaugh became aware of the first-ever Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA), and persuaded biology professor Boyd Walker to purchase one of the first Aqua Lung units sold in the United States. Fellow UCLA graduate student and lifelong friend Andreas Rechnitzer joined Limbaugh in experimenting with the device, and they taught themselves how to use the Aqua Lung without instruction or manuals. Limbaugh transferred to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 1950 where he studied under Carl Hubbs. He began to apply scuba diving towards scientific research more directly and spent countless hours underwater recording his observations of aquatic animals, tagging fishes and collecting specimens. At the time, formal standards for civilian scuba training and education did not exist in the United States. Within a year Limbaugh developed preliminary guidelines necessary to train others in scuba diving and began instructing graduate students in 1951. Limbaugh was appointed Marine Diving Specialist in 1953 by Scripps Director Roger Revelle. As the first official diving officer at Scripps, Limbaugh was charged with the responsibility of maintaining a safe training program, developing curriculum, writing instruction manuals and issuing diving permits to new divers. Limbaugh enjoyed an active professional life during the 1950s, studying kelp bed ecology and cleaning symbiosis, speaking at local diving clubs, leading professional diving associations, participating in Scripps expeditions, working for outside agencies and experimenting with civilian underwater imaging. In 1957 he co-founded Scientific Diving Consultants and helped to create an underwater ecological preserve in the Virgin Islands. In early 1960 Limbaugh was invited to attend the first meeting for the Confédération Mondiale des Acitivités Subaquatiques (CMAS) to be held in Barcelona. At the conference, he presented a paper on cleaning symbiosis and was voted Chairman of Marine Biology for the new association. While abroad, Limbaugh took the opportunity to dive in some caves along the coast of Spain and France. On March 20th he became lost in the underground river at Port Miou and died. His body was discovered a week later and was buried in a small cemetery overlooking the Mediterranean at Cassis, France. After the fatal accident, his brother-in-law Dr. Howard Feder compiled Limbaugh’s writings, bringing several to posthumous publication.
Extent
6.65 Linear feet (17 archives boxes, and 15 films)
Restrictions
Publication rights are held by the Regents of the University of California.
Availability
COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE. ALLOW ONE WEEK FOR RETRIEVAL OF MATERIALS.