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A. Myra Keen Papers, circa 1918-1985 and undated, with family material dating from 1839

Keen, A. Myra (Angeline Myra) 1905-1986
Keen, A. Myra (Angeline Myra) 1905-1986
Hirohito Emperor of Japan 1901-1989
Berry, S. Stillman (Samuel Stillman) 1887-1984
Pilsbry, Henry Augustus 1862-
Coan, Eugene V
Oldroyd, Ida Shepard 1857-
Schenck, Hubert G (Hubert Gregory) 1897-1960
Joint Committee on Zoological Nomenclature for Paleontology in America
Stanford University
Friends General Conference (U.S.)
Colorado College
International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature
Society of Systematic Zoology (U.S.)
British Museum (Natural History)
American Malacological Union
University of California, Berkeley
Paleontological Society
California Academy of Sciences
Western Society of Malacologists
1918-1985 and undated, with family material dating from 1839
Collection descriptions
Black-and-white photographs
Physical Description
13.69 cu. ft. (13 record storage boxes) (1 16x20 box)
Local number
SIA RU007333
A. Myra Keen (1905-1986), an expert on the systematics of Cenozoic marine mollusks, was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She graduated from Colorado College in 1930, received her M.A. at Stanford in 1931, and her Ph.D. in psychology at the University of California at Berkeley in 1934. While working on her Ph.D., Keen volunteered to help Ida Shepard Oldroyd with her work on shells at Stanford University. Unable to find employment in her field when she graduated, Keen continued her volunteer work on the shell collection at Stanford. She soon came under the influence of Hubert Gregory Schenck, a paleontologist, who encouraged her to concentrate on malacology. Keen spent the remainder of her career at the University.
Keen was appointed Curator of Paleontology in 1936, Assistant Professor of Paleontology in 1954, Curator of Malacology in 1957, and Associate Professor and Professor of Paleontology in 1960 and 1965, respectively. In 1970 Keen became Professor of Paleontology Emeritus and Curator of Malacology Emeritus. Keen retired from Stanford in 1972, but continued her scholarship and interest in the work of her students and colleagues until her death.
Keen's specialty was Tertiary and recent molluscan faunas. As part of her research, Keen undertook extensive field work along the coast of California, traveling as far south as Peru. Her best known work, published in 1958, was The Shells of Tropical West America: Marine Mollusks from Lower California To Colombia.
Myra Keen was active in many professional societies and served as President of the American Malacological Union, 1948. She was one of the chief organizers of the Pacific Division of the American Malacological Union in 1948 and became its Chairman in 1964. In 1949 Keen was made Chairman of the Pacific Coast Section of the Paleontological Society and became a Fellow of the Society the same year. Keen was elected President of the Western Society of Malacologists in 1970 and was Chairman of the Committee on Nomenclature of the Society of Systematic Zoology. Keen was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1964 and, in 1979, was the first woman to receive the Fellows' Medal of the California Academy of Sciences. On his visit to the United States in 1975, Emperor Hirohito of Japan, a noted student of shells, met with Keen.
Description in control file.
(1) Personal correspondence, 1934-1985 and undated; (2) professional correspondence, 1935-1985 and undated;(3) diaries and notebooks, 1918-1985; (4) research files, 1935-1984; (5) diplomas and citations, 1923-1984; (6) family data and related materials, 1839-1985; (7) scrapbooks and collected materials, 1924-1985; (8) collected manuscripts, writings and publications, 1927-1985; (9) memorabilia and personal material, 1905-1984; (10) photographic materials, circa 1870-1985 and undated
This record unit documents the professional career of Keen and also includes information about her personal interests. Documentation about Keen's professional work includes correspondence with colleagues and amateur shell collectors regarding research and identification of specimens, activities as a professor at Stanford, involvement with professional scientific organizations, and requests for her to become editor of numerous scientific journals. Of importance is Keen's correspondence regarding her involvement with the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, 1943-1983; Joint Committee on Zoological Nomenclature for Paleontology in America, 1945-1963; and her work with the Society of Systematic Zoology, Nomenclature Committee, 1953-1969. Also documenting Keen's professional work are her diaries and notebooks, which contain information about her shell collecting; research expeditions; and trip to the British Museum (Natural History) in 1967. There are drafts of published papers on mollusks; bound notes on nomenclature; anatomical drawings; specimen photographs and slides; photographs of scientists, including S. Stillman Berry and Henry A. Pilsbry; and group photographs of the American Malacologists Union, Pacific Division, and the Western Society of Malacologists.
These papers also include private correspondence with family members and friends documenting her interests in religion (in particular her relationship with the Religious Society of Friends), philosophy, current affairs, health, financial matters, and her concern over the death of her mother; correspondence and scrapbooks concerning Keen's visit from Emperor Hirohito of Japan; family photograph albums, dating back to around 1870; school annuals from Colorado Springs High School, 1923, and Colorado College, 1928-1931; awards, honors, and ribbons; an autobiography; and an oral history interview by Eugene V. Coan in September 1983.
Repository Loc.
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Capital Gallery, Suite 3000, MRC 507; 600 Maryland Avenue, SW; Washington, DC 20024-2520
Data Source
Smithsonian Institution Archives