Dorothy Bliss papers
The scope of the material starts in 1950 with the research into gecarcinus lateralis that became her Ph.D. dissertation: “Endocrine Control of Metabolism in the Decapod Crustacean, Gecarcinus lateralis.” It ends in 1979, her last year at the Museum, with the article, written with three co-authors: “Limb Growth-controlling Factor in the Crab Gecarcinus lateralis with Special Reference to the Growth-inhibiting Factor.”
The content of these papers is composed of a list of her articles, correspondence with individuals and organizations, and masses of meticulously drawn graphs, charts and diagrams as well as voluminous statistics, recorded on file cards and in notebooks.
One letter in this collection stands out. It is from P.F. Wright, the son/daughter of Sir Charles S. Wright, who was with Robert Scott's ill-fated Antarctic expedition. He was in the depot-laying party that Scott sent back before his fatal run to the Pole. In May, 1978, P.F. Wright wrote the Museum a letter which landed on Dr. Bliss's desk, asking for help in identifying land crabs which the father recorded seeing off the coast of Brazil. The letter and Dr. Bliss's reply are in Box 8, folder 22.
The collection is arranged into six series as follows:
Series I: Articles in professional publications and articles not published
Series II: Ph.D. Dissertation and Books
Series III: Correspondence: Individuals
Series IV: Organizations
Series V: Research notebooks
Series VI: Research papers and data
- Bliss, Dorothy E. (Person)
Language of Materials
33 Linear Feet
Dr. Bliss was born in Cranston, R.I. In 1916. She received her Bachelor's and Master's degrees at Brown University, from which he would later receive an honorary degree. In 1952 she earned her Ph.D. at Harvard. At the time of her appointment to the Museum, she was a teaching fellow at Harvard, working there on what would be a lifetime study of gecarcinus lateralis, a land crab species she first encountered as a graduate student and which was the subject of her doctoral dissertation. Dr. Bliss brought this work with her to the Museum and by 1968 she had risen to the post of curator of invertebrates. Her work was interrupted in 1974 when she was persuaded to take on the duties of a department chairman, and in the three years she held this position she supervised the merger of two related small departments into the Department of Invertebrates, today known as the Division of Invertebrates.
In addition to her work at the Museum, Dr. Bliss was on the anatomy faculty at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine from 1956 to 1964 and was an adjunct professor of zoology at the City University of New York from 1971 to 1980 . Departing the Museum in 1979, she returned to her home state, where she became adjunct professor of zoology at the University of Rhode Island. Dr. Bliss died of cancer in a Providence hospital on December 26, 1987.
Writing of Dr. Bliss after her death, the biologist Linda Mantel noted that as a museum curator, she influenced uncounted younger researchers working on crustaceans, also that she was responsible for major exhibits in the Hall of Invertebrates. Dr. Mantel notes, too, that while Dr. Bliss was an avid reader, sailor, woodworker, gardener, photographer and scientific artist, she found time not only to breed and train prize-winning golden retrievers, but to respond patiently to people who called the Museum to report that they “found something with a lot of legs on the beach.”
sources for biographical sketch:
AMNH news releases, July 15, 1956 and undated.
Rockland-Journal News, Nyack, N.Y. August 4,1974
Linda Mantel in Journal of Crustacean Biology, 8(4), 706-709), 1988
Letter to Raymond B. Manning, Smithsonian Institution, August 3, 1979
New York Times obituary, January 2, 1988
Sidney Horenstein, seen in the AMNH library
These papers had been gone over before and it is not known how extensive they might have been. Envelopes were not kept, so some mail have no dates.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Collection of 35mm slides have been removed and can be found in PSC 676.
- American Museum of Natural History. Department of Invertebrates
- Breder, Charles M. (Charles Marcus), 1897-1983
- Carcinology -- History -- Sources
- Crabs -- Physiology
- Crustacea -- Physiology
- Decapoda (Crustacea) -- Physiology
- Démeusy, Noëlle
- Gecarcinus lateralis
- Invertebrates -- Physiology
- Manuscript Collection
- Zoologists -- United States -- Correspondence
- Dorothy Bliss papers, 1950-1979
- Eleanor Schwartz, May 2012
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation provided support to make this finding aid available in ArchivesSpace (2016-2017).