William Keith Brooks papers
- 1880 - 1906
- Brooks, William Keith, 1848-1908 (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for use.
Conditions Governing Use
1.98 Cubic Feet (11 containers)
In 1866 he left Cleveland to enroll in Hobart College. He remained there for only two years, leaving in 1868 to finish his degree at Williams. Brooks graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1870. After graduation, he joined his father's wholesale business in Cleveland. After a year it was clear that Brooks lacked interest in becoming an entrepreneur. He instead joined the faculty at DeVeaux College, Niagara, New York. The money he earned teaching allowed him to continue his education.
Brooks attended a summer scientific lab at Nantucket, instructed by Louis Agassiz. After the session, he applied to work on his Ph.D under Agassiz at Harvard. Although Agassiz died before Brooks was formally enrolled, Brooks nevertheless commenced graduate studies and received his Ph.D in 1875.
In 1876, Daniel Coit Gilman offered Brooks one of the first fellowships for advanced studies in biology at Hopkins. Brooks accepted, and remained on the faculty as professor of zoology until his death in 1908. While at Hopkins, Brooks established the first full-fledged marine biological station, first at Fort Wool, Virginia and later moved to Beaufort, North Carolina, for the training of students in morphological studies. The Chesapeake Zoological Lab continued its peripatetic existence, migrating from Beaufort to Hampton, Virginia (1883), Green Turtle Key, Bahamas (1886), Nassau, Bahamas (1887), Woods Hole (1888- 1890), Kingston, Jamaica (1891, 1893, 1896), Alice Town, North Bimini, Bahamas (1892), and Port Antonio, Jamaica (1897).
Brooks married Amelia Katharine Schultz (d. 1901) of Baltimore on June 13, 1878. They had two children, Charles Ernest (1879-1935) and Menetta White (1881-1972).
Brooks died at his home in Baltimore on November 12, 1908, following cardiac and renal failure.
(This biographical information is drawn from Keith Rodney Benson's doctoral dissertation, "William Keith Brooks (1848- 1908): A Case Study in Morphology and the Development of American Biology," Oregon State University, 1979.)
Scope and Contents
The drawings form the bulk of the collection and illustrate Brooks' morphological studies from 1880-1906. Most of the sketches are of the tunicates Salpa and coelenterates hydromedusae and Physalia. Brooks's best known work is The Genus Salpa, and the series contains both original sketches for and photolithographic plates from the volume.
The drawings underscore Brooks's talent as both artist and scientist. Working with the naked eye and with the aid of a microscope, he produced accurate representations. Morphological studies and their relationship to evolutionary theory were an important part of late nineteenth century biological studies, since embryological developments served to confirm Darwin's theses. Brook's studies had important implications for the theory of the origin of vertebrates and the origin of pelagic life, because the drawings confirm the reality of individual development and focus attention on the texture of the embryo.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Part of the Special Collections Repository
The Sheridan Libraries
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA