Guide to the Raymond B. Cowles Papers

Laurie Hannah and Lindsey Hashimoto
Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration
University of California, Santa Barbara
Harder South 9615
Santa Barbara, California 93106-9615
Phone: (805) 893-2401
Fax: (805) 893-4222
© 2008
The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Guide to the Raymond B. Cowles Papers

Collection number: MS-02

Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration

University of California, Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara, California
Processed by:
Laurie Hannah and Lindsey Hashimoto
Date Completed:
Encoded by:
Laurie Hannah
© 2008 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Raymond B. Cowles papers
Dates: 1920-1992
Collection number: MS-02
Creator: Cowles, Raymond B. (Raymond Bridgman), 1896-1975
Collection Size: 6 linear feet 8 boxes
Repository: Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration (University of California, Santa Barbara). C. H. Muller Library
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9615
Abstract: This collection consists of correspondence, published and unpublished manuscripts, photographs, artifacts, and biographical materials of zoologist and UCLA professor Raymond Cowles.
Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English


Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to the Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration, UC Santa Barbara. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Director. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Cheadle Center as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

Preferred Citation

Raymond B. Cowles papers, MS-02, Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration. University of California, Santa Barbara.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Kay Wolsey, Cowles' daughter.

Processing Information

Arrangement and description of this collection was made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Biography / Administrative History

Ecologist, naturalist, and teacher Raymond Bridgman Cowles was born in 1896 in Natal, South Africa to missionary parents. He left Africa for the United States where he attended school, worked, served in the military during WWI, and attended Pomona College, earning a bachelor's degree in 1920. Following field work in Africa from 1925-27, he received his PhD in zoology from Cornell in 1928 and began working at UCLA in 1929, where he taught zoology until 1963.
Cowles wrote extensively about animals and specifically about reptilian thermoregulation, his pioneering research, from the 1920s through the mid 1970s. Other areas of research were fire ecology, desert ecology, continental drift and climate change, and overpopulation. Population issues, such as poverty, limited natural resources, famine, and birth control overlaid many of his arguments and were a concern stemming from his South African upbringing. Cowles published over 100 articles and wrote two books: Zulu Journal published in 1959 and Desert Journal published in 1977.
Cowles was recognized for his teaching and research with many awards and honors, including an honorary doctorate of science from Pomona College; the Cowles Animal Medical Ward at the Living Desert Reserve; and the UC Cowles Temescal Canyon Reserve in the Santa Monica Mountains, dedicated in 1978. Cowles died in 1975 at the age of 79.

Scope and Content of Collection

This collection of papers deals predominantly with the published and unpublished writings of Raymond Cowles. The Correspondence series gives an insight into Cowles' struggles to publish his works on overpopulation in a timely fashion, as well as his views on various issues appearing in his writings. Noted correspondents include colleagues Kenneth Norris, Garrett Hardin, and Robert Stebbins, as well as Zulu chief Gatsha Buthelizi. The series Published Writings and Unpublished Writings contain the bulk of the collection. Among the highlights are the two versions of his unpublished book On the Bondage of Human Numbers, a pessimistic look at the future of unrenewable, limited resources and the effects of overpopulation, which was to be published by University of Oklahoma press in 1968, as well as a different version co-written with Lucy Birzis. Also included are early drafts for his last book Desert Journal, published posthumously in 1977 with Elna Bakker, and a futuristic and optimistic novel that takes place 300 years after what Cowles predicted would be an economic-radiation crash. The Photograph series includes many images of desert reptiles and birds both in Africa and California, and photos of Zululand. Many of the photos have captions. The Artifact series contains the most unusual items--detritus from the first atomic bombs detonated in New Mexico in 1944, collected by Cowles during a survey he conducted on the effects of radiation on desert animals.


This collection is organized into 7 series: Series 1 Biographical Materials, Series 2 Correspondence, Series 3 Professional Activities, Series 4 Published Writings, Series 5 Unpublished Writings, Series 6 Photographs, and Series 7 Artifacts.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Desert ecology--California
field notes
Cowles, Raymond B. (Raymond Bridgman), 1896-1975
Desert ecology--South Africa--KwaZulu Natal

Separated Material

Cowles' reprint collection and his published books are housed separately in the library.


Biographical Materials

Box 1, Folder 1

Material About Cowles

Box 1, Folder 2

Family and Friends 1985-1992

Box 1, Folder 3


Box 1, Folder 4

Clippings By and About Cowles (1)

Box 1, Folder 5

Clippings By and About Cowles (2)


Correspondence 1956-1975

Box 1, Folder 6

Correspondence, General

Box 1, Folder 7

Alexander, David (Pomona College) 1972-1974

Box 1, Folder 8

Amrein, Yost (Pomona College) 1966-1974

Box 1, Folder 9

Buthelezi, Gatsha 1973-1974

Box 1, Folder 10

Norris, Kenneth 1967-1975

Box 1, Folder 11

Robertson, T.C. 1969-1975

Box 1, Folder 12

Stebbins, Robert 1967-1975

Box 1, Folder 13

Publishers 1963-1975

Box 1, Folder 14

Reprint Requests


Professional Activities

Box 1, Folder 15

Papers and Lectures Given

Box 1, Folder 16

National Science Foundation Film and Television Projects, Proposal

Box 1, Folder 17

Grant Proposals

Box 1, Folder 18

San Pascual Zoo Annex


Published Writings

Box 1, Folder 19

Correspondence with Max Knight re: Zulu Journal 1957-1959

Box 1, Folder 20

Zulu Journal

Box 1, Folder 21

Desert Journal - Reviews

Box 3, Folder 2-16

Desert Journal - Miscellaneous Drafts

Box 1, Folder 22

The Flowing Well of Life

Box 1, Folder 23

Soil is Life - Review

Box 1, Folder 24

On Aggression - Review

Box 1, Folder 25

Origin of the Tetrapods

Box 1, Folder 26

Letters to the Editors

Oversize_box 1-2

Scrapbook of Published Articles

Box 1, Folder 27


Box 1, Folder 28

Reptiles and Other Animals

Box 1, Folder 29


Box 1, Folder 30


Box 1, Folder 31


Box 1, Folder 32

Bibliographies/Works Cited

Box 1, Folder 33


Box 3, Folder 19

Publications by Other People [1 of 2]

Box 3, Folder 20

Publications by Other People [2 of 2]


Unpublished Writings

Scope and Contents note

This large series consists of drafts for unpublished books and articles. Some of these papers may be early drafts of articles that were eventually published under a different title. Folders with actual titles are transcribed from the title page of the draft. Two large folders of unsorted materials may actually be duplicates of other works.
Box 2, Folder 1

Degrees of Poverty and Density of Populations: Africa (1965 and 1971)

Box 2, Folder 2

The Issue of Begetting

Box 2, Folder 3


Box 2, Folder 4

Malthus Resurrected: Supply Versus Demand and Inflation

Box 2, Folder 5

Three Major Symptoms, One Disease and One Cure

Box 2, Folder 6

Emanicipation From Our Bondage to Excess Numbers: A Biologist's Dream

Box 2, Folder 7

Reproductive Superfluity, Harvests and Life and Death

Box 2, Folder 8

Reproductive Superfluity: Fodder for Evolution, Change, Survival, and Nourishment for Man

Box 2, Folder 9

The People Crunch Is Here/Biological Compulsions, Education, and Man's Future

Box 2, Folder 10

Biological Basics for Human Welfare

Box 2, Folder 11


Box 2, Folder 12

Our Theoretical Future?

Box 2, Folder 13


Box 2, Folder 14

Warning of Impending Catastrophe

Box 2, Folder 15

Fantasy? - Science Fiction or a Detour of the Black-White Racial Problem

Box 2, Folder 16

Fantasy? - A Solution to the Black-White Racial Problem? Melting Pot or Segregation with Independence

Box 2, Folder 17

Man's Submission to the Slavery of His Numbers

Box 2, Folder 18

A New Look at the Problem

Box 2, Folder 19

Technology, the Promethean Myth, Future Resources and Man's Hopes

Box 2, Folder 20

Elements of the Population Problem

Box 2, Folder 21

Resources for the Future and Man Contending with Fellow Man

Box 2, Folder 22

Of Human Numbers

Box 2, Folder 23

What is the Optimum Number of Human Beings?

Box 2, Folder 24

The Optimum Number of Human Beings

Box 2, Folder 25

Resources for the Future and Man Contending with Fellow Man

Box 2, Folder 26

Pernicious Misdiagnosis of Universal Shortages

Box 2, Folder 27

Mistrust, Fear, and the Population Explosion (South Africa's Racial and Political Dilemma)

Box 2, Folder 28

For Our Children's and Our Own Future

Box 2, Folder 29

Human Expectations and Population Densities

Box 2, Folder 30

A Different Kind of Peace Treaty

Box 2, Folder 31

Supply Versus Demand Equals Inflation

Box 2, Folder 32

Childbearing and the Future

Box 2, Folder 33

Midweek Excursion in Search of Sylvan Solitude and a Moment of Quiet for Soul Searching

Box 2, Folder 34

Irresponsible Fun with the Meaning of Words

Box 2, Folder 35

Some Biotic Aspects of Continental Drift

Box 2, Folder 36

Continental Drift and New Thermal Adaptations in the Archosaurs: And for Paleoclimatologists?

Box 2, Folder 37

Continental Drift, Magnetic Reversals, Climatic Change and Biotal Extinction

Box 2, Folder 38

The Evolutionary Significance of Albedo (Color) in the Human Skin

Box 2, Folder 39

The African's Skin

Box 2, Folder 40

The Needs of the Species Versus the Needs of its Individuals: Insoluble Civil Conflict

Box 2, Folder 41

The Importance of Microclimates

Box 2, Folder 42

Terrestrial Vertebrates, Their Bodily Configuration Size, and Metabolic Rates

Box 2, Folder 43

Arches in the Bridge from Fish to Man

Box 2, Folder 44

Tool Using Baboons

Box 2, Folder 45

Conflict Between the Ethic of Living Systems and the Human Ethic

Box 2, Folder 46

Semantics and Progress in Vertebrate Thermoregulation

Box 2, Folder 47

Nothing but Noisy Tree Frogs?

Box 2, Folder 48

The California Condor, Chaparral Fires and Fire Suppression

Box 2, Folder 49

Santa Anas Will Always Flow and Brush Fires Rage

Box 2, Folder 50

Fire Control in Our Montane and Adjacent Vegetational Areas

Box 2, Folder 51

Chaparral Fires, Fire Suppression, Ecological Change and a Possible Indicator Organism

Box 2, Folder 52

Speculation on a Latent Role of Heat in Vertebrate Evolution

Box 2, Folder 53

On the Cryptic Significance of Externality in the Avian Cloacal Protuberance and Heated Conditions and he Sequellae

Box 2, Folder 54

Mesquite Oases on the Deserts

Box 2, Folder 55

Pure Air

Box 2, Folder 56

Human Ecology - Conservation and the Desert

Box 2, Folder 57

Embryonic Curricular Suggestions

Box 2, Folder 58

The Biokrene

Box 2, Folder 59

The Biokrene, Degrees of Overpopulation and a Reappraisal of Africa

Box 2, Folder 60

Utopia and the Biokrene/To Fit Into the Discussion of the Biokrene

Box 2, Folder 61

Eden Regained (A Series of Romantic Essays on Past, Present, and Future Human Husbandry) [1 of 2]

Box 2, Folder 62

Eden Regained (A Series of Romantic Essays on Past, Present, and Future Human Husbandry) [2 of 2]

Box 2, Folder 63

Eden Regained [1 of 2]

Box 2, Folder 64

Eden Regained [2 of 2]

Box 2, Folder 65

From the Bondage of Human Numbers [1 of 2]

Box 2, Folder 66

From the Bondage of Human Numbers [2 of 2]

Box 2, Folder 67

From the Bondage of Human Numbers - Photocopy - Draft Edition [1 of 2]

Box 2, Folder 68

From the Bondage of Human Numbers - Photocopy - Draft Edition [2 of 2]

Box 3

From the Bondage of Human Numbers - Edited copy in binder

Box 2, Folder 69

Bondage of Human Numbers - Carbon

Box 2, Folder 70

Miscellaneous - From the Bondage of Human Numbers

Box 2, Folder 71

No More Islands

Box 2, Folder 72

An African Adventure

Box 3, Folder 1

A Minority Appraisal of the Proposed New Environment Doctor Training Program

Box 3, Folder 17

Miscellaneous Unsorted Drafts [1 of 2]

Box 3, Folder 18

Miscellaneous Unsorted Drafts [2 of 2]

Photo_box 1-3


Physical Location: Photographs stored separately in Collection Room.


Box 3

Section of electric cable employed in firing the world's first atomic explosion 1944

Physical Description: Cable approximately 2.75 in. long, labeled Amphenol RG-54A / U - 1944

Scope and Contents note

Cable found by Cowles during experiments he conducted in New Mexico searching for radiation damage to native fauna and flora. Cowles wrote a report of his findings and a summary in a note, dated 1958, to his grandchildren, explaining the significance of the cable. His conclusion: Two years after the detonation there were no animals showing illness--at least we could find none, but I am still convinced that natural predators collected all those sickened by radiation to a degree that was, and is, far more effective than human agents.
Box 3

Metal bolt, encased in resin, from atomic explosion Trinity in New Mexico

Scope and Contents note

Item is described thus: Bolt, atom-blast sheared. Test Tower TRINITY New Mexico USA 1st atomic explosion, radio-activity = normal background. Picked up by R.B. Cowles during biological radiation survey.