This collection contains the personal papers, written works, and subject files of Helen Chamlee, a botanist at the San Diego
Natural History Museum in the 1970s.
Born Helen Vallejo in 1908, Chamlee was a native San Diegan who was dedicated to botany, especially native species. A graduate
of San Diego State University, she joined the staff at the San Diego Natural History Museum in 1969. After seven years in
the Botany Department, Chamlee transferred to the Educational Activities Department and remained there for the duration of
her career. She led countless field trips to parks, mountains, and deserts of the region, gave lectures on native plants,
participated in workshops, seminars, and trainings. She developed at least 14 nature trails in San Diego County. Perhaps her
greatest achievement while at the Natural History Museum was securing Florida Canyon in Balboa Park as a native plant preserve.
She is also responsible for creating the museum’s naturalist guide group, the Canyoneers.