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Study of the Middle Pennsylvanian Flora Found in Kansas Coal Balls

Call Number: RH MS 1259


Dr. David Arthur Otto’s Ph.D. dissertation for the University of Missouri is a study of the Middle Pennsylvanian coal ball petrifactions found in Cherokee County, Kansas. The study examines three hundred coal balls, revealing 26 genera of plants. The flora examined by Dr. Otto reveal that the site of his study was a swamp during the Middle Pennsylvanian Period. This Ph.D. dissertation identifies a number of previously unidentified Kansas coal ball flora as well as compares Middle Pennsylvanian coal ball flora to that found in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and Europe. His objectives were to identify relationships between Middle Pennsylvanian flora found in Cherokee County, Kansas, describe and photograph each species found, and present findings in an accessible and understandable way. Housed with the dissertation are the slides, photographs, and peels that Dr. Otto used in his research.


  • Creation: 1967


Conditions Governing Access

No item held within this collection may be copied in any manner via any means at any time. Only eye viewing of any and all items held within said collection is permitted, although hand-scribed notes on paper using a lead pencil as regards any and all items held within said collection is permitted. Photographs and fossil peels held within said collection must remain in their individual, transparent slips while being viewed and studied. Microscopic fossil peel slides held within said collection may be individually hand-held and eye-viewed, but only with staff supervision. Contact staff at or (785) 864-4334 for assistance if there are questions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Dr. David Arthur Otto

David Arthur Otto was born on February 19, 1934, growing up in Fort Scott, Kansas. He majored in botany at the University of Kansas, was on the Dean’s Honor Roll and received his A.B. degree in 1956. He earned an M.S. in biology in 1957 at K.S.T.C. Emporia (now, Emporia State University), after which he became a faculty member at Stephens College, Columbia, Missouri. He began studying for a doctoral degree two years later in 1959. He held a National Science Foundation Science Faculty Fellowship at the University of Missouri (1963-64) and contributed articles to the Encyclopedia Americana.


3 Linear Feet (3 boxes)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

This collection contains David A. Otto's Doctoral dissertation, A Study of the Middle Pennsylvania Flora Found in Kansas Coal Balls, along with a draft of the dissertation text and plates. The collection also includes the peels and slides from the fossils used in Dr. Otto's research.

Physical Location

RH MS 1259

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Dr. David A. Otto and Elizabeth B. Otto, 2011.

Related Materials

Consult reference staff for availability of corresponding artificial collections. Otto, David Arthur. Study of the Middle Pennsylvanian Flora Found in the Buildex Quarry, Franklin County, Kansas, 1957. RH MS 1258

Guide to the Study of the Middle Pennsylvanian Flora Found in Kansas Coal Balls Collection
Study of the Middle Pennsylvanian Flora Found in Kansas Coal Balls
Finding aid prepared by acs, 2012; revised by mhr, 2013; Finding aid encoded by acs, 2012
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
A Study of the Middle Pennsylvanian Flora Found in Kansas Coal Balls Collection, Kansas Collection, RH MS 1259, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States