Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Finding Aid for the Wheeler J. North Papers 1959-1999
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (58.87 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Related Material
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Wheeler J. North Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1959-1999
    Collection number: 10177MS
    Creator: North, Wheeler J. 1922-2002
    Extent: 29 linear feet
    Repository: California Institute of Technology. Caltech Archives
    Pasadena, California 91125
    Abstract: The papers of Wheeler J. North, Caltech alumnus (BS, biology, 1950; BS, electrical engineering, 1944) and Professor of Environmental Engineering, 1963-1992. The papers include correspondence and memos, data books, proposals and reports, and miscellaneous printed matter and media relating to his career in marine biology and ecology, with emphasis on the kelp beds of California.
    Physical location: Archives, California Institute of Technology.
    Languages represented in the collection: English


    The collection is open for research. Researchers must apply in writing for access.

    Publication Rights

    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 Archivist. 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.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Wheeler J. North Papers, 10177MS, Caltech Archives, California Institute of Technology.

    Acquisition Information

    Wheeler J. North donated his papers to the Caltech Archives in 1998 and 1999.


    Wheeler J. North, Caltech alumnus and Professor of Environmental Engineering, 1963-1992, was a marine biologist and ecologist as well as a pioneer in scientific SCUBA diving. He was born in 1922 in San Francisco and spent his childhood in Mexico and La Jolla, California. After attending Caltech as an undergraduate (BS, engineering, 1944), he joined the army for the US occupation of Japan, during which time he became interested in biology. After returning to Caltech for a second degree (BS, biology, 1950), he entered graduate school at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where he received his PhD in 1953. In the following years he remained at Scripps, beginning a long-term study of giant kelp and becoming an expert SCUBA diver. He became an authority on kelp and the renewal of kelp beds of the California coast, as well as on marine resources and biomass. In 1963 he was appointed professor at Caltech, where he taught marine ecology and continued his kelp studies. Wheeler North died in 2002.

    Scope and Content

    The North papers are organized in six series: correspondence and memos; grants and proposals, including kelp and biomass projects; data books and research materials; publications and printed matter (including oversize); audio-video material; and biographical material. The video material is notable for including an early example of underwater footage taken by Wheeler North in 1959: Rivers of Sand, which analyzes the formation of the Pacific submarine canyon projecting from Cabo San Lucas, Baja California, Mexico.
    The collection is organized into the following series:
    • Series 1. Correspondence
    • Series 2. Grants and proposals
    • Series 3. Research materials
    • Series 4. Publications
    • Series 5. Audiovisual material
    • Series 6. Biographical material

    Related Material

    The interview with Wheeler J. North  by Shelley Erwin, Caltech Oral History Project.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    California Institute of Technology
    Scripps Institution of Oceanography
    Marine biology
    Marine ecology

    Genres and Forms

    Motion pictures


    Marine biologists