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Syracuse University Biology Department Records

An inventory of its records at the Syracuse University Archives

Finding aid created by: Anna Smallwood
Date: 2016

Historical Note

The first classes in biology at Syracuse University were taught as early as 1873 by Alexander Winchell in the department of Geology, Zoology, and Botany. Biology classes were taught in departments that changed over time.

1891 Biology and Geology Department is established.
1895 Department of Biology is formed.
1907 Biology Department splits into two separate departments: Zoology Department and Botany Department.
1911 Bacteriology Department is created as an additional department.
1935 Bacteriology Department and Botany Department combine to make the Bacteriology and Botany Department.
1938 Bacteriology and Botany Department changes its name to Plant Sciences Department.
1959 Plant Sciences Department changes back to Bacteriology and Botany Department.
1970 Biology Department is formed, combining the Zoology Department and the Bacteriology and Botany Department.

Photograph of student looking through a microscope

Over the years, classes in biology were held in different locations. Early classes in biology were held in the Hall of Languages until Lyman Hall was finished and occupied in 1907. Lyman Hall continued to be a space for biology until 2008. The Biological Research Laboratories, which started in 1956, were used for the Department of Plant Sciences and later the Zoology Department. The Biological Research Laboratories were originally located on Collendale Campus (current site of Manley Field House), but later moved into a newly designed building on College Place. In the 1960s, the Bacteriology and Botany Department held some classes in Sims Hall. By 2008, the Department of Biology had moved in the newly built Life Sciences Complex.

The Department of Biology at Syracuse University contributed to its field in many ways. In 1875, under Alexander Winchell, the University built a Museum of Natural History that worked with local schools. Located in Lyman Hall, the museum was opened to the public. Faculty of the Department participated in expeditions in the 1920s and 1930s, including an expedition to the Andes Mountains in 1931 that brought back specimens for the museum. Research at the laboratories resulted in publications, like the Contributions from the Zoological Laboratory, which was published between 1897 and 1937. In the 1960s, undergraduates began to do their own independent research, a concept that began under the Department of Bacteriology and Botany chairman Marshall Jennison's more experimental approach. Other notable chairs include William Martin Smallwood and Frederick G. Sherman of the Zoology Department and the first chair of the unified Biology Department, Donald G. Lundgren.

Scope and Content Note

Materials in the Syracuse University Biology Department Records span from 1886 to 2014 and include correspondence, annual reports, publications and other materials related to the Department and its predecessors. Records are divided into three series:

The Bacteriology & Botany Series contains publications and correspondence from 1913 until 1970 that were created under the Bacteriology & Botany Department as well as under Plant Sciences, a name that replaced Bacteriology & Botany from 1938 to 1959.

The Biology Series includes bulletins from 1886 and 1900 as well as other materials related to the Biology Department from 1970, when the Department of Zoology and the Department of Bacteriology and Botany joined, to 2014.

The Zoology Series contains correspondence, bound volumes of Contributions from the Zoological Laboratory, and meeting minutes from 1897 until 1970 that were created under the Zoology Department.


Access Restrictions:

Please note that the collection is housed off-site, and advance notice is required to allow time to have the materials brought to the Reading Room on campus.

School, college and department records are restricted to the office of origin for 30 years. Requests to use restricted records must be obtained in writing from the office of origin.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from the Syracuse University Archives and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

Also in the Archives are various biology and botany faculty papers including the Donald G. Lundgren Papers.

The Archives holds additional information about the Biology Department, Bacteriology and Botany Department, Plant Sciences Department and Zoology Department in the Clipping Files, and images of these departments can be found in the Slide Collection and Photograph Collection.

Materials related to the Biology Summer Institute are located in the Science Teaching Collection.

Additionally, materials related to research in the field of biology can be found in the Office of Research Records and the Syracuse University Research Corporation/Institute (SURC/SURI) Records.

Selected Search Terms


Bray, William L., 1865-1953.
Jennison, Marshall Walker, 1905-1979.
Lundgren, Donald G. (Donald George), 1924-1985.
Sherman, Frederick G.
Syracuse University -- History.
Syracuse University.
Syracuse University. -- Department of Biology.


Higher education.

Types of Material


Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Syracuse University Biology Department Records,
University Archives,
Special Collections Research Center
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Materials were transferred to the Archives from the College of Arts and Sciences and the Biology Department starting in 1965.

Processing Information

Materials were placed in archival folders and boxes.


The Biology Records are arranged in alphabetical order.

Table of Contents

Bacteriology and Botany