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Personal Papers of James William Bee

Call Number: PP 570


This collection features James Bee's meticulously kept field journals from 1927-1995. The journals include extensive hand-written accounts of his travels and studies throughout his life, as well as related drawings, photographs, and botanical samples. The collection also includes many other photographs and notes from research, correspondence, maps from his field studies, and documentation of his teaching and curatorial positions at the University of Kansas Natural History Museum.


  • Creation: 1927 - 1995


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 James William Bee

James Bee was born in 1913 in Provo, Utah to Robert George and Mary Culbertson Bee. He developed an appreciation of and enthusiasm for nature at an early age. At the time, little was known about the natural and archaeological history of the Utah Valley, so Bee explored the region as a boy by going on many collecting trips with his father.

Bee attended Brigham Young University (BYU) for his undergraduate degree before serving in the Army with a field hospital unit in Asia during World War II. During this time he married Annette Pistor Malseed. Together they had three children: James, Annette, and Mary.

Bee returned to the United States after the war to finish his masters degree at BYU and then continued his graduate study at the University of Kansas. After earning his PhD, he stayed at KU as a profesor of zoology and curator of mammalogy.

Bee worked with Philip Humphrey to create the Museum Studies program at KU and implemented many new educational intitatives and collections methods at the university's Natural History Museum. His most notable field work was conducted in the Point Barrow region of the Arctic and in the Utah Valley.

After his retirement from KU in 1979, James Bee moved with his wife to Lopez Island, Washington and continued his natural observations and studies. He passed away April 18, 1996.


7.5 Linear Feet (8 boxes + 1 oversize box, 4 oversize folders)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The bulk of this collection consists of Bee's field journals, but other material in the collection reflects Bee's career as teacher and researcher, particularly at the University of Kansas and in KU's Museum of Natural History.

The journals provide descriptions of observations Bee made about wildlife around him, dating from his early teens all the way to the end of his life. The earliest journals center on places around his home in Utah; his trips expanded around the United States and internationally starting in college and during military service in the 1940s. Much of the information is scientific and related to Bee's observations, but he also includes personal information in his journals.

Items that were loose in the journals have been foldered separately in the same box as the journal from which they came; oversize materials have been housed separately.


The journals in this collection adhere to a unique numbering system that is also applied to supplementary specimens, photographs, and documents explicitly referred to in the journals. Example: for page number 270816-9, the first two numbers, 27, indicate the year (last two digits) of the first entry on the page. The second set of two numbers, 08, indicate the month of the first entry on the page. The third set of two numbers, 16, indicate the day of the first entry on the page. The number after the dash, 9, indicates the total page number within the year. In this example, this code is describing the 9th page of year 1927.

Physical Location

PP 570

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Annette C. Bee, 2016.

Related Materials

Bee, James W. and E. Raymond Hall. Mammals of northern Alaska on the Arctic Slope. Lawrence: University of Kansas Museum of Natural History, 1956. Located at Spencer Research Library at Ua C68 and at Ua 33/0/3 no. 8

Bee, James W. Birds found on the Arctic slop of Northern Alaska. Lawrence: University of Kansas Museum of Natural History, 1958. Located at Spencer Research Library at Ua 33/0/8 vol. 10, no. 1-10

University of Kansas Natural History Museum records, RG 33, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.


Guide to the Personal Papers of James William Bee
Personal Papers of James William Bee
Finding aid prepared by mes. Finding aid encoded by mes. Finding aid revised by ew, 2020.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Personal Papers of James William Bee, PP 570, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Repository Details

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

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States