William Keith Brooks papers
Scope and Contents
The collection consists of research notes, reprints and drawings dating from 1880 to 1906. The research notes cover the genus Modera, Eucopidae, Lucifer, and vesiculated Medusae. The reprint series consists of one article, "The Life History of Epenthesis McCradyi."
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.
- 1880 - 1906
- Brooks, William Keith, 1848-1908 (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours' notice for retrieval. Please contact Special Collections for more information.
Collection is open for use.
Conditions Governing Use
Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright.
William Keith Brooks was born in Cleveland, Ohio on March 25, 1848, the son of Oliver Allen and Ellenora Bradbury Brooks. He early developed an interest in natural history.
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.)
1.98 Cubic Feet (11 containers)
Language of Materials
William Keith Brooks (1848 – 1908) was an American zoologist who studied embryological development in invertebrates. The collection consists of research notes, reprints and drawings dating from 1880 to 1906.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The drawings and notes remained in the Biology Department library after Brooks's death. A few sketches of Lucifer were lent to James S. Gutshell in 1931, and returned to the department in 1947. The departmental holdings were transferred to the Milton S. Eisenhower Library upon its completion.
Finding aid prepared by Margaret N. Burri in 1987.
- Guide to the William Keith Brooks papers
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
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