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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Processing Information
  • Existence and Location of Originals
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Scope and Contents
  • Arrangement
  • Separated Materials

  • Contributing Institution: California Institute of Technology Archives and Special Collections
    Title: Wheeler J. North Papers
    Creator: North, Wheeler J.
    Identifier/Call Number: NorthWJ
    Physical Description: 23 linear feet (52 standard archival boxes, 1 half size archival box, 1 oversize box, and 5 books)
    Date (inclusive): 1953-1999
    Language of Material: English .

    Conditions Governing Access

    This collection is open for research, with the exception of letters of recommendation, which are currently closed files. Researchers may apply for access in writing and by creating an Aeon   account. Contact the archives for more information.

    Conditions Governing Use

    Copyright may not have been assigned to the California Institute of Technology Archives. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Caltech Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the California Institute of Technology Archives as the owner of the physical items and, unless explicitly stated otherwise, is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    The papers were donated and transferred to the Caltech Archives in four installments in 1998, by Wheeler J. North.

    Processing Information

    Charlotte E. Erwin began the preliminary processing of the collection in 2012. Penelope Neder-Muro continued the processing in 2019 with the assistance of the California Revealed Processing Assistance Grant. Materials were removed from file folders and were replaced with acid-free folders. The original order of materials was preserved when available. Some correspondence were placed in chronological or alphabetical order, depending on the record creator's order. Photographic negatives and slides were sleeved in appropriate preservation enclosures. The W. C. Crandall correspondence collection found among North's papers has been removed and arranged into its own collection.

    Existence and Location of Originals

    The 16 mm films have been separated and preserved in the Caltech Archives Audiovisual collection. The digitized versions are available for viewing on the web, with access provided through the finding aid. See Series 5, Audiovisual and Photographic Material for more information.

    Biographical / Historical

    Wheeler John North (1922-2002) was professor of environmental science at Caltech 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 often sponsored by the U. S. Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, 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.
    For more information on Wheeler J. North, the 2001 Wheeler North oral history with Shelley Erwin transcript can be accessed at Caltech Archives Oral Histories.  

    Scope and Contents

    The North papers consist of correspondence, research notes and notebooks, photographs, two films, and various publications, including the Kelp Habitat Improvement Project (KHIP) final reports. The collection documents North's work at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, his work as Professor of Environmental Science at Caltech, and his lab's research at the Kerckhoff Marine Laboratory in Corona del Mar.


    The Wheeler J. North papers are stored in 54 archival boxes. The papers have been arranged in six series, with all series containing subseries.
    Series 1: Correspondence has been arranged into three subseries. Subseries 1: Alphabetical Order contains incoming and outgoing correspondence that is organized by either last name or organization name. The folders are in alphabetical order, but the contents in the individual folders are not in alphabetical order and are only grouped by the corresponding first letter of the correspondent. Subseries 2: Chronological Order contains correspondence and memos grouped according to date of creation. Subseries 3: General Correspondence by Folder Title contains correspondence arranged by folder name, which is often according to record creator's subject grouping such as Kerckhoff Marine Lab correspondence, or the archivist's grouping such as letters of recommendation.
    Series 2: Research has been arranged into three subseries. Subseries 1: Data Notebooks and Notes include North's lab kelp study experiments data and various field notes. Subseries 2: Writings/Presentations and Teaching includes exams, course lecture notes, and miscellaneous writings. Subseries 3: Caltech Administrative and Operations includes an assortment of administrative documents and regulations, including training and safety for operating boats and scuba diving.
    Series 3: Grants and Progress Reports has been arranged into three subseries. Subseries 1: Kelp Habitat Improvement Project (KHIP) includes drafts and drawings from KHIP annual reports and associated correspondence. Subseries 2: Additional Grant Project Reports includes grants from the U.S. Department of Energy, ERDA Marine Biomass Program, General Electric Company, and other entities. Subseries 3: Grant Correspondence includes correspondence regarding the Marine Biomass program, research and manuscript reviews, and some memos.
    Series 4: Publications has been arranged into three subseries. Subseries 1: Books includes bound versions of the Institute of Marine Resources (IMR) reports. Subseries 2: KHIP Final Reports include the published, final versions of the Kelp Habitat Improvement Project Annual Reports from 1964-1975. Subseries 3: Additional Publications includes various magazine and journal articles. Folder 48.1 includes a list created by North that lists his writings and is referred to in the folder descriptions.
    Series 5: Audiovisual and Photographic Material has been arranged into two subseries. Subseries 1: Audiovisual includes two films that were originally shot on 16mm film and can be accessed through their digitized versions. Subseries 2: Photographic Material includes mostly figures from the KHIP, both as photographs and/or negatives.
    Series 6: Biographical and Personal has been arranged into two subseries. Subseries 1: Biographical Material includes newspaper clippings, magazines, newsletters, CVs and biographical write-ups. Subseries 2: Personal Material includes a bound version of North's dissertation, personal notes and cards, awards, and other ephemera.

    Separated Materials

    The W. C. Crandall papers were found among the Wheeler North papers donation and have been separated into its own collection, remaining in the Caltech Archives.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    California Institute of Technology -- Alumni and alumnae
    Environmental engineering
    Kelp bed ecology
    Manuscript Collection