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North (Wheeler J.) Collection
SMC 0100  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Biography
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Publication Rights
  • Related Materials

  • Descriptive Summary

    Contributing Institution: Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego
    9500 Gilman Drive
    La Jolla 92093-0175
    Title: Wheeler J. North Collection
    Creator: North, Wheeler J.
    Identifier/Call Number: SMC 0100
    Physical Description: 24 Linear feet (17 archives boxes, 47 flat boxes)
    Date (inclusive): 1950-1996
    Abstract: The Wheeler J. North Collection consists of a small assortment of his papers, pressed kelp and algae specimens, and North's image archive consisting of prints, negatives, transparencies, and slides, including his aerial surveys of the Southern California coastal kelp beds.
    Languages: English .

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Wheeler J. North Collection consists of a selection of his papers, his pressed dried kelp and algae specimens, and a large image archive of prints, negatives, transparencies, and thousands of slides, including his aerial surveys of the Southern California coastal kelp beds. The papers represent only a small fraction of his research output and activities, and date mostly from the mid-1970s to 1983. The pressed and dried specimens of marine flora were collected at a wide range of sites, but mostly in Baja California, and southern and central California. They are organized and labeled in original order, which is primarily by botanical name (with some exceptions for geographic localities). The bulk of the collection consists of North's image archive, which contains all types of image formats created over his long career, including underwater and aerial photography. For decades, North conducted solo coastal flights to capture images of off-shore kelp beds and coastal terrain in southern California, and these images are consolidated in an Aerial Survey series. North crafted an index to accompany the survey collection, which should be consulted in consultation with the images. Aside from the survey, other slide images were arranged by North in two additional subseries, by subject and chronologically (with some duplication occurring across the two groups). Many of the slides include a note on the mount identifying the location and the date of the image, but the volume precluded listing that description in this finding aid.


    Wheeler J. North (1922-2002) was professor of environmental science at the California Institute of Technology for nearly thirty years. Prior to his faculty status, he earned two bachelor of science degrees, in electrical engineering (1944) and biology (1950) from Caltech. He earned his PhD from the University of California, San Diego (1953) in biological oceanography.
    As a marine ecologist and environmental engineer, North focused his research on the ecology of kelp beds and developed methods for restoring kelp beds exposed to sewage wastewater. North is credited for restoring kelp populations along the California coast, including Point Loma and Palos Verdes. North's research group also investigated marine biomass as an alternative energy source. His research was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Office of Sea Grants, National Science Foundation, and supported with additional grants from industrial sources and private foundations.
    Wheeler J. North spent most of his career working at the William G. Kerckhoff Marine Laboratory in Corona del Mar. He retired from Caltech in 1992, and transitioned to Emeritus faculty. He passed away on December 20, 2002.
    This Biographical Note is credited to the California Institute of Technology Archives finding aid for the Wheeler J. North Papers.

    Preferred Citation

    Wheeler J. North Collection. SMC 100. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego Library.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired 2003



    Publication Rights

    Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection. Copyright to the Kelp Aerial Survey slide images and North's related publication, "Guide to the Usage of the Kelp Aerial Survey Collection," is held by the UC Regents.

    Related Materials

    North, Wheeler. Guide to usage of the kelp aerial survey photographs , 1966. An unbound copy is also included in the collection.
    North, Wheeler J. Interview by Shelley Erwin. Pasadena, California, October 6 - December 1, 1998. Oral History Project, California Institute of Technology Archives. World Wide Web: https://oralhistories.library.caltech.edu/34/
    Wheeler J. North Papers, 1953-1999. California Institute of Technology Archives and Special Collections Repository. Pasadena, California. Finding aid: https://collections.archives.caltech.edu/repositories/2/resources/170

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Ecologists -- California -- Archives
    Kelps -- Aerial photographs
    Kelps -- Photographs
    Kelps -- Type specimens -- California
    Kelps -- Type specimens -- Mexico -- Baja California (Peninsula)
    Kelp bed ecology -- California
    Underwater photography
    Environmental engineers -- California
    North, Wheeler J. -- Archives