Merriam, John C. (John Campbell), 1869-1945

Alternative names
Birth 1869-10-20
Death 1945-10-30

Biographical notes:

Professor of Paleontology, University of California, Berkeley.

From the description of John C. Merriam papers, 1904-1934. (University of California, Berkeley). WorldCat record id: 81162069

Paleontologist, educator, and author.

From the description of Papers of John C. Merriam, 1899-1938. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 78407628

Biographical Note

  • 1869: Born, Hopkinton, Iowa
  • 1887: B.S., Lenox College, Hopkinton, Iowa
  • 1893: Ph.D., University of Munich, Munich, Germany
  • 1894 - 1920 : Faculty member, University of California, Berkeley, Calif. (appointed chairman, Department of Paleontology, 1912; dean of faculties, 1920)
  • 1918: Co-founded Save-the-Redwoods League
  • 1919: Chairman, National Research Council
  • 1920 - 1928 : President, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, D.C.
  • 1928 - 1945 : Regent, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
  • 1945: Died, Berkeley, Calif.

From the guide to the John C. Merriam Papers, 1899-1938, (Manuscript Division Library of Congress)


Born in Iowa, Oct, 20, 1869, John Campbell Merriam, paleontologist, educator and administrator, grew up in the midwest, where he attended Lenox College. After obtaining his doctorate from Munich, Merriam came to the University of California as an instructor of paleontology and historical geology in 1894, becoming a full professor in 1912, and Dean of the Faculties in 1920.

While at the University, he worked on the question of the authenticity of the Calaveras skull, explored shell mounds for fossils and Indian artifacts in conjunction with the Department of Anthropology, studied the John Day fauna in Oregon, the fossil beds of Virgin Valley, Nevada, and extinct faunas of the Mohave area. Of great interest to him was the discovery of fossil remains in the La Brea tar pits of southern California. It was due in large part to Merriam's foresight that the material found in the pits was preserved for scientific research. Merriam was also involved in the negotiations with Annie Alexander for the establishment of the University's Museum of Vertebrate Zoology. As a member of the University Press Editorial Committee, he actively supported publication of reports on paleontological discoveries. Merriam resigned in June 1920 to become president of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, a post he retained until 1938. He was also a Regent of the Smithsonian from 1928.

Merriam belonged to many scientific societies and was particularly interested in the formation of a paleontological society which would publish current articles. He always retained an interest in the West, and, as president of the Save-the-Redwoods League, was active in the conservation movement in California.

From the guide to the John Campbell Merriam Papers, 1904-1934, (The Bancroft Library.)


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  • Paleontology
  • Forests and forestry
  • National parks and reserves


  • Educators
  • Authors
  • Paleontologists


  • California (as recorded)