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Personal papers of Thomas N. Taylor

Call Number: PP 631


This collection contains materials related to the academic career of Thomas N. Taylor, a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Kansas (KU) and an internationally renowned paleobotantist in the fields of fossil plant, fungal, and microbial research. The collection includes personal and professional correspondence with colleagues and collaborators, papers related to grant projects undertaken by Taylor and his associates, lecture and other teaching materials, and awards and plaques given to Taylor during his career.


  • Creation: 1961 - 2016


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 Thomas N. Taylor (1937-2016)

Thomas "Tom" Norwood Taylor received his bachelor's degree in botany at Miami University in Ohio in 1960 before going on to receive his PhD in paleobotany at the University of Illinois in 1964. After pursuing postdoctoral work at Yale University from 1964 to 1965, Taylor accepted an assistant professorship position at the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle where he pioneered the use of the scanning electron microscope in botanical studies and developed many electron microscopy techniques still in use today.

In 1972, Taylor moved his work to Ohio University and then to Ohio State University (OSU) in 1974. While at OSU, Taylor became chair of the Department of Botany and a senior research scientist at the Byrd Polar Research Center studying plant and later fungal fossils from Antarctica. With his work in paleobotany and paleomycology in Antarctica, Taylor also collaborated extensively with Hans Kerp, Hagan Hass, Michael Krings, and others to study fungal and other microbial interactions from the Rhynie chert site. With his scientific work, Taylor has been credited with "set[ting] new standards for the study of fossil fungi and fungal interactions" as well as "dramatically elevat[ing] the quality and stature of paleobiological inquiry."

In 1995, Taylor retired from Ohio State University and moved to the University of Kansas (KU) as the Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and a senior curator for the Biodiveristy Institute and KU's National History Museum.

During his career Taylor published 468 peer-reviewed papers; edited four books; and authored four textbooks, including Paleobotany: The Biology and Evolution of Fossil Plants (2009) and the first comphrehensive paleomycology textbook, Fossil Fungi (2015). Taylor also contributed more than 50 years of support to the National Science Foundation, including serving as a senior paleobotantist in the National Science Foundation's US Antarctic Program, as well as serving on many national and academic committees in the fields of life science and scientific research.

In addition to being awarded nearly 60 externally funded research grants, Taylor was also awarded many honors and awards for his teaching career and contributions to the fields of paleobotany and paleomycology. These included the Alexander von Humboldt Senior Research Award (1994-1996), the Distinguished Teaching Award of Ohio State University (1989), and the Paleobotanical Section of the Botanical Society of America Award (2012). He was also inducted as a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1994. Taylor received recognition from the National Science Board, of which he was a member from 2006 to 2012. Thomas N. Taylor passed away on April 28, 2016.

[Information and quotes retrieved from an obituary written by professional colleagues Gar W. Rothwell, Michael Krings, and Carla J. Harper included in IMA Fungus, volume 8, no. 2 (2017) on pages 59 and 60; and Taylor's CV.]


7 Linear Feet (7 boxes + 1 oversize box)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

PP 631

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Edith L. Taylor, 2019.



Guide to the Thomas N. Taylor Collection
Personal papers of Thomas N. Taylor
Finding aid prepared by cmp, 2021. Finding aid encoded by cmp, 2021.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Personal papers of Thomas N. Taylor, PP 631, 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