Theodore Sherman Palmer Papers mssPalmert

Gayle Richardson
The Huntington Library
July 2020
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108

Contributing Institution: The Huntington Library
Title: Theodore Sherman Palmer papers
Creator: Palmer, T. S. (Theodore Sherman), 1868-1955
Identifier/Call Number: mssPalmert
Physical Description: 7 Linear Feet (5 boxes, 1 oversize map)
Date (inclusive): 1849-1954
Abstract: A collection of material related to naturalist Theodore Sherman Palmer, with special emphais on Death Valley, California, and the Jayhawker Party.
Language of Material: Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Open for use by qualified researchers and by appointment. Please contact Reader Services at the Huntington Library for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item]. Theodore Sherman Palmer papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Mrs. Theodore Sherman Palmer, December 1955.

Biographical / Historical

Theodore Sherman Palmer (1868-1955) was an American naturalist and historian. Palmer was born in Oakland, California, and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1888. He joined the U. S. Department of Agriculture as a field agent and ornithologist; he led the first Death Valley expedition in 1891. In 1895, he received his M.D. from Georgetown University and in 1896, he began work with the U. S. Department of Agriculture Biological Survey; by 1928, he reached the level of Senior Biologist. After his retirement in 1933, he became an assistant in zoology at the United States National Museum as a specialist in the nomenclature of mammals and birds. He was a member of many organizations, was active on governmental regulatory bodies for game laws, and wrote books and articles.

Scope and Contents

A collection of 306 items from 1849 to 1954, it consists of Theodore Sherman Palmer's diary of the Death Valley Expedition (1891), related notebooks, and his research material on the Jayhawker Party of 1849. Correspondents include Theodore Raymond Goodwin, William Lewis Manly, and Carl Irving Wheat. Of note in the collection is an oversize map by William Lewis Manly of the Jayhawkers' trail from Salt Lake City, Utah to San Bernardino, California circa 1890 (mssHM 50895). The collection also contains family letters from Palmer's parents, Henry Austin Palmer and Jane Olivia Palmer; in addition to letters from Palmer's brother, Harold King Palmer (an astronomer at Lick Observatory and at Mount Wilson in 1906), and his aunt, Harriet Day Palmer.

Processing Information

Processed by Huntington Library Staff, circa 1985. In 2020, Gayle Richardson created the finding aid derived from a legacy summary report.


Arranged chronologically.


Individual call numbers included in the collection: mssHM 50761-50909, mssFAC 1064-1065, mssFAC 1082.

Related Materials

There are 87 photographs related to Palmer's 1891 expedition (photCL 416) housed in the Photo Archives.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Scientific expeditions -- Death Valley (Calif. and Nev.)
Death Valley (Calif. and Nev.)
Death Valley (Calif. and Nev.) -- Description and travel
Death Valley (Calif. and Nev.) -- Discovery and exploration
Death Valley (Calif. and Nev.) -- History
Death Valley (Calif. and Nev.) -- Maps
Diaries -- United States -- 19th century
Letters (correspondence) -- United States
Notebooks -- United States
Research (document genres) -- United States
Goodwin, Theodore R., 1877-1969
Manly, William Lewis, 1820-1903
Palmer, Dorothy
Palmer, Harold K. (Harold King), 1878-
Palmer, Harriet Day
Wheat, Carl I. (Carl Irving), 1892-1966
Jayhawker Party

Box 1

Correspondence, diaries, notebooks, research material 1849-1909

Box 2

Correspondence, diaries, notebooks, research material 1906-1949

Box 3

Correspondence, diaries, notebooks, research material 1936-1939

Box 4

Correspondence, diaries, notebooks, research material, printed maps of Death Valley, clippings 1940-1954

Box 5

Index cards for Death Valley place names, ephemera, envelopes

Folder 1

William Lewis Manly. Map of the Jayhawkers' Trail from Salt Lake to San Bernardino HM 50895 1890?