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Personal papers of Edward H. Taylor

Call Number: PP 2


Edward Taylor completed his A.B. degree in Geology and Zoology at the University of Kansas in January of 1912 and began his teaching career at KU in 1926. He was named full professor in 1934. Taylor's personal research library, built over a period of 50 years, was one of the finest private herpetological research libraries in the world when it was purchased by the University of Kansas Libraries. The collection includes manuscripts, plates, correspondence, lectures, field catalogues, and specimen data.


  • Creation: 1905 - 1977


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions

Conditions Governing Use

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

Biography of Edward Harrison Taylor

Edward Taylor was born April 23, 1889 in Maysville, Missouri. After Taylor completed his A.B. in Geology and Zoology in 1912, he accepted a civil service post in Manila, Philippine Islands as a school supervisor. From 1916-1919, he was the U.S. Bureau of Science's chief of fisheries in Manila. During the winter of 1918-1919, he was a civilian relief worker in Siberia during a typhus epidemic. He then began a series of research travels that spanned close to 300,000 miles and included nearly a year of sea time. For the next ten years, Taylor devoted his time to research on animals of the Philippines, especially herpetofauna. This research was done while working among various headhunter tribes in the Islands' interior regions. Taylor found time to complete his M.S. degree in 1916 from KU and completed his Ph.D. at KU in 1927 under Professor Henry H. Lane, a noted paleontologist.

Until retiring in 1960, he was actively engaged in teaching a variety of courses. Taylor's research during this time produced over 9,200 pages of scholarly publications, including major treatises on extensive treatment of the lizard genus Eumeces, a tri-partite checklist and key to the amphibians and reptiles of Mexico (co-authored with Hobart M. Smith), and multi-part works on the herpetology of Costa Rica and Ceylon. He continued to do research and publish articles and received the University's Distinguished Service Citation. Taylor's personal research library, built over a period of 50 years, was one of the finest private herpetological research libraries in the world when it was purchased by the University of Kansas Libraries.

Taylor's research after 1960 was heavily focused on the caecilians, a little-known group of amphibians. His interest in these animals was aroused during a collecting trip on a tiny Brasilian Island in the Sea of Celebes: Taylor was collecting earthworms for a colleague when he noticed that one "earthworm" seemed very different from the rest; it subsequently turned out to be a new species of caecilian. His 1968 review of these unique animals is a major landmark in the scientific knowledge of the group. Taylor prepared an 840-page monograph on the animals, including 400 illustrations. The monograph was a four-year project, which took Taylor around the world three times to swamps and jungles and to more than 60 museums. For his extensive work he was known by his colleagues as the "father of modern herpetology."


42.25 Linear Feet (43 boxes)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

PP 2

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Mr. Edward H. Taylor

Related Materials

Consult library staff regarding the availability of related photographs, biographical files, and scrapbooks.

Guide to the Edward H. Taylor Collection
Personal papers of Edward H. Taylor
Finding aid prepared by sk, 2004; Finding aid encoded by sk, 2004
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in <language encodinganalog="language">English.</language>
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Edward H. Taylor Collection, University Archives, PP 2, 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