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Finding Aid to the Samuel J. Holmes Papers, 1837-1964, bulk 1894-1964
BANC MSS C-B 935  
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Collection Details
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  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Information
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Samuel J. Holmes papers
    Date (inclusive): 1837-1964,
    Date (bulk): bulk 1894-1964
    Collection Number: BANC MSS C-B 935
    Creators : Holmes, Samuel J. (Samuel Jackson), 1868-1964
    Extent: Number of containers: 5 cartons, 3 boxes, 2 oversize Folders, 3 volumes Linear feet: Approximately 8
    Repository: The Bancroft Library
    University of California, Berkeley
    Berkeley, California, 94720-6000
    Phone: (510) 642-6481
    Fax: (510) 642-7589
    Email: bancref@library.berkeley.edu
    URL: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/
    Abstract: The Samuel J. Holmes papers, 1868-1964, include correspondence, manuscript drafts, research files, notes, and biographical materials documenting the career and family life of Samuel J. Holmes, a professor in the Department of Zoology at the University of California from 1912-1938.
    Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English and French
    Physical Location: Many of the Bancroft Library collections are stored offsite and advance notice may be required for use. For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

    Information for Researchers


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720-6000. Consent is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission from the copyright owner. Such permission must be obtained from the copyright owner. See: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html .
    Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted toresearch and educational purposes.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Samuel J. Holmes Papers, BANC MSS C-B 935, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Alternate Forms Available

    There are no alternate forms of this collection.

    Related Collections

    University of California loyalty oath controversy material, 1949-1952. BANC MSS C-B 496

    Separated Material

    Photographs have been transferred to the Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library. BANC PIC 1965.021-.024--PIC

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Holmes, Samuel J. (Samuel Jackson), 1868-1964 --Archives
    University of California, Berkeley. Dept. of Zoology
    University of California (1868-1952)--Faculty
    Loyalty Oaths--California--Berkeley
    Manuscripts for publication.
    Faculty papers.
    History of science and technology collection

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    The Samuel Jackson Holmes papers, 1837-1964 (bulk 1894-1964), were given to The Bancroft Library by John W. Holmes on August 21, 1964.


    No additions are expected.

    System of Arrangement

    Arranged to the folder level.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Josh Schneider in 2007.

    Biographical Information

    Background and Education

    Samuel Jackson Holmes was born in 1868 to Joseph Holmes and Avis Folger née Taber. In 1890, attracted to the work of Joseph LeConte, Holmes matriculated at the University of California. Following receipt of his Sc.D. in Zoology in 1893, and his M.Sc. in Zoology in 1894, Holmes attended the University of Chicago, and earned his Ph.D. there in 1897.

    Academic Career and Professional Life

    Following his doctoral examinations, Holmes taught high school science in San Diego for one year, then spent the next fourteen years as a member of the faculty at the Departments of Zoology at the University of Michigan (1899-1904) and the University of Wisconsin (1905-1911). In 1912 Holmes returned to Berkeley to replace his former teacher and mentor, Harry Beal Torrey, in the Department of Zoology. He became a full professor in the department in 1917. His primary areas of teaching and research included experimental morphogenesis, genetics, animal behavior, and eugenics. Holmes retired his position at the department in 1938, but remained very involved in campus life until his death. During the University of California Loyalty Oath Controversy (1949-1952), Holmes strongly opposed what he perceived as a direct threat to the academic freedom of university faculty.
    Holmes was active in a variety of professional organizations. He served as President of the American Society of Naturalists, as well as chairman of the American Association of University Professors' Committee on Freedom of Teaching in Science.
    Holmes also served on the initial board of the Human Betterment Foundation, and on the Advisory Board of the National Society for the Legality of Euthanasia.

    Publications and Research Interests

    Besides composing a number of technical articles and textbooks, including The Biology of the Frog (1907), The Evolution of Animal Intelligence (1911), Studies in Animal Behavior (1916), and General Biology (1937), he also wrote a biography, Louis Pasteur (1924, 1961), as well as philosophical discourses: Life and Morals (1948), and the unfinished Ethics of Enmity (circa 1964).
    Holmes often sought to apply his extensive technical knowledge and research experience to questions with broad social implications. Holmes composed a number of monographs and articles related to eugenics. These works include Studies in Evolution and Eugenics (1923), Life and Evolution (1926), The Trend of the Race (1921), A Bibliography of Eugenics (1924), Differential Mortality in the American Negro (1931), as well as The Eugenic Predicament (1933), and The Negro's Struggle for Survival (1937).

    Family Life

    Holmes married Cecilia Warfield Skinner in 1909. They had five children: Samuel, John, Joseph, Avis and Marion.
    Samuel Jackson Holmes died on March 5, 1964, at the age of 95.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Samuel J. Holmes papers, 1837-1964 (bulk 1894-1964), include correspondence, manuscript drafts, research files, notes, and biographical materials documenting the career and family life of Samuel Jackson Holmes, a professor in the Department of Zoology at the University of California from 1912-1938.
    The majority of the collection comprises Holmes's correspondence and unpublished writings, including drafts, notes, and research for his unfinished manuscript entitled The Ethics of Enmity. These latter materials, many of which arrived loose and unlabeled, have been foldered and supplied with titles by the processing archivist. Less well-represented in the collection are administrative materials relating to Holmes's faculty position at the University of California, along with course materials and lecture notes from the University of California and elsewhere. Limited materials regarding the University of California Loyalty Oath Controversy provide one of the few available windows into Holmes' activity in this area.
    Biographical materials relating to Holmes's family life have been retained in the collection, as have other materials documenting the lives of various members of the Holmes, Taber, and Allen families. Diaries, legal documents including land deeds and wills, children's notebooks, clippings, and awards fall into this category. Photographs of family members that arrived with the collection have been separated and transferred to the Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library.
    Some materials in the collection document Holmes's leadership role in the United States eugenics movement of the early 20th century. Holmes described his interest in eugenics as a logical extension of the conclusions he had reached in his research on genetic inheritance. Holmes' views in this area (including his advocacy of sterilization and euthanasia) are well represented in this collection through his correspondence and writings, as well interviews and statements to the press.