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Finding Aid to the Wilbur W. Mayhew papers MVZA.MSS.0456
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access Restrictions
  • Publication rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Related Materials
  • Processing Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content Note
  • Collection Arrangement

  • Title: Wilbur W. Mayhew papers
    Identifier/Call Number: MVZA.MSS.0456
    Contributing Institution: Museum of Vertebrate Zoology Archives
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 6.0 Cubic feet
    Date (bulk): Bulk, 1947-1965
    Date (inclusive): 1947-1981
    Abstract: The Wilbur W. Mayhew papers primarily consist of data relating to specimens deposited at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley. In addition to corresponding specimen data, the collection also includes journals, observational, and experimental data.
    creator: Mayhew, Wilbur W., 1920-2014

    Access Restrictions

    The collection is open for research.

    Publication rights

    Copyright restrictions may apply. All requests to publish, quote, or reproduce must be submitted to the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology Archives in writing for approval. Please contact the Museum Archivist for further information.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Wilbur W. Mayhew field notes, MVZA.MSS.0456, Museum of Vertebrate Zoology Archives, University of California, Berkeley.

    Acquisition Information

    Specimens and data received from Wilbur W. Mayhew in 1995. Refer to MVZ Accession 13929.

    Related Materials

    Specimens related to the data in the Wilbur W. Mayhew field notes can be found on Arctos, the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology's information management system, under accession #13929. 

    Processing Information

    Collection processed and finding aid prepared by Christina Velazquez Fidler in September, 2018.


    Born in Yoder, Colorado on March 17, 1920, Mayhew’s family moved to Turlock, California in 1921 where his family purchased a ranch. Upon finishing junior college in 1940, Mayhew joined the Air Force and served in WWII through 1945. He completed his military service earning a Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, Purple Heart, and Presidential Unit Citation with two oak leaf clusters.
    On a GI bill, Mayhew returned to school and attended the University of California, Berkeley where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Zoology in 1948, a Master’s degree in 1951, and his Ph.D. in 1953 under the advisorship of Dr. A. Starker Leopold, and Dr. Alden Miller. After briefly working at UCLA’s Department of nuclear Medicine and Radiation Biology, Mayhew received a faculty position at the newly opened University of California, Riverside (UCR). From 1954 to 1989 Mayhew established the zoology program at UCR, teaching over 5,600 over the course of his 35 year career.
    As a result of having his field class sites repeatedly destroyed by suburban development, Mayhew, along with Mildred Mathias (UCLA), and led by Kenneth Norris (UCLA), formulated the concept of the UC Natural Reserve System (NRS). Today, the NRS is comprised of 39 reserves, protecting 756,000 acres of natural areas for research and teaching. In addition to his role as professor of biology at UCR, Mayhew also served as the director of the UCR Natural Reserve System from 1969-1990 during which he acquired thousands of acres for UCR. During his career Mayhew was instrumental in the acquisition of the following reserves:
    • 1955: Living Desert Reserve 1959: Boyd Deep Canyon Desert Research Center
    • 1964: Box Springs Reserve 1966: James San Jacinto Mountains Reserve
    • 1970: San Joaquin Freshwater Marsh Reserve
    • 1972: Burns Piñon Ridge Reserve
    • 1973: Sacramento Mountains Reserve (satellite to Sweeney Granite Mountains Reserve), Santa Cruz Island Reserve, and Ryan Oak Glen (donated to San Diego State University)
    • 1974: Chickering American River Reserve
    • 1976: Motte Rimrock Reserve
    • 1977: Carpinteria Salt Marsh Reserve
    • 1978: Sweeney Granite Mountains Desert Research Center; Landels-Hill Big Creek Reserve
    • 1984: Santa Rosa Plateau Reserve 1986: Coachella Valley Preserve (formerly, Coachella Valley FringeToed Lizard Reserve), and King Clone
    • 1987: Oasis de los Osos Reserve (satellite to James Reserve) 1991: Emerson Oaks Reserve
    Wilbur Mayhew retired from his 35 years of teaching in 1989 and from his position as Natural Reserve Director in 1990. In his retirement, Mayhew produced, Pictorial History of the 7th Bombardment Group Wing 1918-1995. The book is a collaborative effort by Mayhew and his fellow WWII veterans from the Seventh Bombardment Group, to assemble a pictorial history of the the oldest bomb group in the Air Force. Mayhew died on September 19, 2014 at the age of 94.
    Sources consulted: Erickson, Jan, "Transcription of Oral History Interview with Wilbur W. Mayhew": transcript of an oral history conducted August 10, 1998 by Jan erickson, Oral History Project, University of California, Riverside. http://www.ucrhistory.ucr.edu/mayhew.htm.
    Pittalwala, I. and Pittalwala, I. (2018). Bill Mayhew, Founding Member of UC Riverside, Died on September 19th, Aged 94. [online] UCR Today. Available at: https://ucrtoday.ucr.edu/25594 [Accessed 30 Aug. 2018].
    Shaker, Jana K. “A Few Words.” Transect. Oakland: Natural Reserve System, 2001. http://edge.ucr.edu/documents/wilbur_chair_docs/Transect%20Spring%202001_Vol%2019_No1.pdf

    Scope and Content Note

    The Wilbur W. Mayhew papers consists of Mayhew’s field data accumulated over the course of his graduate work at the University of California, Berkeley and during his professional career at the University of California, Riverside, from 1947-1981. The data correspond with 6,720 of specimens collected primarily between 1947 and 1965. The specimens were donated to the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley in 1995 along with their corresponding data described here. The data mostly refer to Mayhew’s work with lizards in the Southern California, Riverside region. Lizard species described are all within the Iguanidae family and include the genera Sceloporus, Uma, Uta, Urosaurus, Callisaurus, Phrynosoma, Dipsosaurus, and Coleonyx. The collection also includes small amounts of data for birds, mammals, amphibians, and plants.

    Collection Arrangement

    The collection is organized in 18 series arranged as follows:
    • Series 1. Field Journals, 1947-1981
    • Series 2. Specimen Catalogs, 1958-1968
    • Series 3. Preserved Lizards Data, 1958-1968
    • Series 4. Species Accounts, 1947-1971
    • Series 5. Marked Reptiles, 1961-1963
    • Series 6. Reptile Miscellaneous, 1958-1967
    • Series 7. Laboratory Experiments, 1963-1964
    • Series 8. Egyptian Lizards, 1965-1966
    • Series 9. Deceased Lizards, 1960-1962
    • Series 10. Microscope Data, 1958-1963
    • Series 11. Reptile Computer Data, 1958-1965
    • Series 12. Reptile Hibernation, 1963-1964
    • Series 13. Lizard Temperature Data, 1958-1972
    • Series 14. Reptile Testes Data, 1958-1968
    • Series 15. Reptile Reproduction Data, 1958-1967
    • Series 16. Reptile Gonadal Data, 1947-1968
    • Series 17. Incubation Data, 1958-1964
    • Series 18. Locality and Behavioral Data, 1958-1961

    Subjects and Indexing Terms