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A Guide to the William Charles Schroeder Papers, 1887-1981

Manuscript Collection MC-02
4 boxes (4.25 linear feet)

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Biographical Information

Scope and Content Note

Administrative Information

Arrangement

Index Terms

Folder List


Biographical Information

William Charles Schroeder (1895 - 1977) was born January 10 on Staten Island, New York to William Schroeder and Emma (Caffrey) Schroeder. He married Adah Jensen in 1916 and had two children, William Herbert Schroeder and Gloria M. (Mrs. William F. Gallagher). Schroeder studied at George Washington University (1922-1923) and Harvard University (1924-1931).

William Schroeder devoted his career to a study of the ichthyofauna of the western North Atlantic. His association with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution began as business manager from 1932 to 1952, ichthyologist from 1952 to 1968, and senior scientist from 1964 to 1968. He retired from WHOI on December 31, 1968. From 1917 to 1932, prior to his work at WHOI, he was associated with the US Bureau of Fisheries as fish culturist from 1917 to 1919, scientific assistant from 1919 to 1923, and aquatic biologist from 1924 to 1932. During his time at WHOI, he also held several positions at Harvard, as associate curator of fishes from 1936 to 1960, research ichthyologist from 1960 to 1961, and honorary associate in Ichthyology in 1961.

Schroeder’s earliest scientific training derived from courses in botany and biology in high school. Due to an early interest in ichthyology, Schroeder opened a business on a large pleasure fishing boat for four years, during which time he was able to study closely the habits of certain fish. He maintained a daily record of his observations; however, these and other notes and clippings were destroyed in a fire in Fairport, Iowa. He tried to interest other fishermen to study fish more scientifically and wrote several articles to that effect in the New York Press and New York Sun.

In September 1917, at age 22, Schroeder joined the Bureau of Fisheries, where he was in charge of fish rescue and mussel Glochidia operations in the upper Mississippi River. In 1919 he was promoted and transferred from Fairport, Iowa to Key West, Florida. Until 1920 he was involved with fish and fisheries of the area and the clam population and canning industry of southern Florida. Schroeder’s work brought him in contact with the spiny lobster and commercial fishes. In 1920 he served as acting chief of the Division of Scientific Inquiry, US Bureau of Fisheries. From 1921-1922 he conducted a survey of the fish and fisheries of Chesapeake Bay, and from 1923-1932 studied migrations and other phases in the life histories of the cod, haddock and pollock. His first papers in 1920 and 1924 dealt with the clam industry and fisheries of southern Florida.

In 1932 Schroeder left the Bureau of Fisheries and joined the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution as its business manager. Schroeder wrote to Carl Hubbs, then at the Museum of Zoology in Ann Arbor, Michigan, about his new position at WHOI:

The offer came to me a few months ago as a complete surprise for altho[ugh] I have been close to Bigelow for some years he had never intimated that he was considering such a position in his institution. Now that I am taking hold I am wondering how he was able to get along so long on his own…for there is plenty to keep one busy.1

In addition to his role as business manager, Schroeder continued his scientific work. From 1935-1937, he and Henry Bigelow conducted experiments on the effect of temperature on the growth of cod. He also participated in deep-sea zoological explorations around Cuba aboard Atlantis from 1938-1939, and from 1948-1954 around Bermuda and along the Atlantic shelf and slope. While at the Institution, he responded to the need for custom-made plankton nets and with his wife began a business as a designer and maker of nets, which they operated out of the home basement. They supplied these nets to a wide range of scientists and commercial fishermen from the early 1930s to the late 1960s, when he transferred the business to relatives, Mr. and Mrs. Ernest A. Case, in Andover, NJ. Schroeder retired from WHOI in 1968.

His first publication, solely on fishes and co-authored with his lifelong collaborator and friend, Henry B. Bigelow in 1927, dealt with the sharks and skates of the northwest Atlantic (Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard, 68(5): 2329-251). The classic Fishes of the Chesapeake Bay, by Samuel F. Hildebrand and Schroeder, followed in 1928. Between 1928-1968 he wrote over 53 notes and papers, either alone or in collaboration with others, primarily Bigelow, with whom he worked on various phases of fisheries research. His most substantial works included his study of the cod (Bulletin of the Bureau of Fisheries 46: 1-136, 1930), and his guide to Caribbean commercial shark fishing (1945). In 1948 he and Bigelow produced the sections on cyclostomes and sharks for Part one of Fishes of the Western North Atlantic; Part Two, comprising sections on sawfishes, guitarfishes, skates, rays, and chimaeroids, appeared in 1953. Schroeder and Bigelow also produced the indispensable Fishes of the Gulf of Maine in 1953. With Bigelow, he described one new family, seven genera, and 42 new species from among the cyclostomes, elasmobranchs, and chimaeroids. This revision of the 1925 book by Bigelow and William Welsh, however, took twenty years to get published.

The story of the Gulf of Maine fish book to Dr. Bigelow and I is a tragedy. Since 1924 when the original work appeared we have been collecting data, not only published but also original stuff obtained on various Halycon and Albatross II cruises. We then spent the best part of a year thoroughly revising the first edition and finally, in January 1932, completed this report and forwarded it to Washington. We had been told that there was a good demand for the book and that no more copies were available. Soon after we sent the manuscript along we were told that there were insufficient fund for publishing it. We then scraped around and felt that we had found the necessary money when like a bomb-shell the Bureau of Fisheries informed us that they had found a packing case, heretofore unopened, which contained 700 copies of the 1924 edition. So that ended our ideas for publishing the new edition, for the present at least… (letter to Carl Hubbs, June 7 1932)2

It has been said of Bill Schroeder that he neither looked nor acted as if he were important. Cape Cod fishermen accepted him as an equal, and scientists named eight new species after him: a mollusk (Clench and Agayo, 1938), a crustacean (Chase, 1939), an anchovy (Hildebrand, 1943), a carp (H.W. Smith, 1945), a freshwater ray (Fernandez-Yepez, 1960), a sawshark (Springer and Bullis, 1960), a bathyclupeid (Dick, 1962), and a genus of cat sharks, Schroedericthys (Springer, 1966). Mary Sears, former WHOI scientist, wrote Adah Schroeder about her late husband:

…You know how much I admired Bill’s work. His job was several jobs – all carried on with infinite patience and accuracy – all of which could have been considered full time jobs especially by today’s standards. With Dr. Bigelow as an example and also by nature it would not have been like Bill to think that he was overworked!3

In 1981, in recognition of his contributions to ichthyology and to the department, the Fish Department of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University dedicated its library to the memory of William Charles Schroeder. Schroeder also received the Gold Medal by the Geographic Society of Cuba in 1940. He was a member of the Society of Systematic Zoologists, the Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, and an Honorary Fellow of the Academy of Zoology, India.

1 See box 3, folder 5, “Correspondence-WHOI employment, 1932-1969.”
2 Ibid.
3 Condolence letter to Adah Schroeder from Mary Sears, 21 August, 1978. Box 3, f.17.

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Scope and Content Note

The William C. Schroeder papers consist of three cartons and one document box of materials that span the years 1887-1981, with the bulk dating from 1933 to 1967. Materials consist of correspondence, invoices and purchase orders, diaries, notes, designs and drawings, travel orders, newspaper clippings, school notebooks, photographs, film negatives, lantern slides, instruments, and artifacts.

The bulk of the material consists of business records for Schroeder’s extensive plankton net business and reflects the extent and high demand for nets from a wide range of customers. Business records cover Schroeder’s dealings, for example, with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Navy, an ichthyological project, research cruise to Cuba, manufacturing companies, and universities. There is also personal and professional correspondence covering areas of interest to Schroeder such as cod tagging, shark attacks, red crabs, and a Cuban trip, and documenting his relationship with WHOI, Henry B. Bigelow and Roman Vishniac. There are several folders documenting Schroeder’s appointments and work with the Bureau of Fisheries (box 2 ff. 16-19); a letter of commendation from Herbert Hoover (box 2, f.26); and letters from Schroeder’s father, known as “Pop Schroeder,” who was then Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds at WHOI (box 2, f. 31). General correspondence includes ichthyological discussions between Schroeder and the scientific and commercial fishing community as well as personal letters. Some photographs are interfiled with correspondence where appropriate. Other material consists of biographical and bibliographic material and personal memorabilia.

Non-business files include Schroeder’s addendi to Fishes of the Gulf of Maine, 1953; publications by or of interest to Schroeder; notes and reports on various fish and cruises; publicity about Schroeder; honors, primarily from Harvard; photographs; and personal family records including school books and drawings dated 1904-1906. There are wolf fish teeth, an award from the Geographic Society of Cuba, and 31 lantern slides that appear to have been taken on Atlantis, cruise 74 to Cuba.

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Administrative Information

Custodial History

William and Gloria (Schroeder) Gallagher, William C. Schroeder’s daughter, gave the materials to Bob Livingston, who donated the collection to the WHOI Archives in the 1980s and 1998.

Preferred Citation

William Charles Schroeder Papers, 1887-1981. MC-02, "Folder Name." Data Library and Archives, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Acquisitions Information

Bob Livingston donated the collection to the WHOI Archives in two accessions: in the 1980s, and the remainder in 1998 (accession 98-22). In addition, former accession document box #85-1 was integrated into the collection.

Processing Information

Second-level processing completed by Brenda Rocklage and Margot Garritt. Paper clips and staples were removed and papers were put in acid-free folders and boxes. Photographs and negatives were placed in archival sleeves. Newspaper clippings were copied onto acid free paper before being discarded. The plankton netting materials were folded and boxed, and stored with the instrument collection.

Access

Open: materials are available for research.

Use

Copyright: Permission to publish material from the collection must be authorized by the Institution Archivist.

Related Material

Further information on William C. Schroeder may be found in the WHOI Biographical files. Additional photographs by or of Schroeder are in the Atlantis photo collection (Cuba, 1937 Cruise), and the Jan Hahn Negative Collection. There is material in the records of the Office of the Directors, specifically in the correspondence and subject files (H. B. Bigelow and C.O. D. Iselin), as well as in Iselin’s personal papers before 1940. There is also considerable correspondence between Captain Fred S. McMurray and Bill Schroeder (acc. box #82-34). Related material may also be found at the Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University.

Separated Material

Only a fraction of the Business Records invoices were retained as samples of Schroeder’s work. The bulk of the photographs and all the lantern slides were removed from the collection and added to the WHOI Photo Archives Collection.

Visual Materials removed from collection contain many images chronicling Schroeder’s seining and fishing activities with the Bureau of Fisheries, and his cruise to Cuba. Schroeder’s photograph collection is maintained as a separate collection in the WHOI image collection (the W.C. Schroeder Photograph Collection), and includes the following:

Photographs – [Cuba Trip]
Photographs, (1912), 1920s
Photographs, [1920s-1940s?]
Photos of Key West and 10,000 Islands, FL, 1918
USFS Fish Hawk, and Str. Halcyon, 1920s
Photos, slides, contact sheets, negatives, [1920s-1940s?]
Film negs., 3 x 6 in.; seining, [Ocean View, VA?], Bureau of Fisheries, [undated]
Film negs., buildings- Key West FL, 1918-1919
Film negs., Cuba, (1938-1939)
Lantern slides in 2 boxes [Atlantis cruise #74]

In addition, a photograph of Schroeder and Henry Bigelow was placed in Schroeder’s Biographical file, and a Taylor Minimum Registering Thermometer, a portable microscope and netting materials were added to the archives historical instrument collection. The teeth of a Wolf fish were also removed from the collection.

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Arrangement

The collection is organized into four series:

List of Series:
Business Records
Correspondence
Subject Files
Personal

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Index Terms

Researchers wishing to find related materials should search the MBLWHOI Library catalog under these index terms.

Fishing nets industry.
Ichthyology --North Atlantic Ocean.
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

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Folder List

Business Records 1933-1967 1.5 boxes (1.75 linear feet)
Scope and Content Note
The bulk of the material consists of business records for Schroeder’s extensive plankton net business and reflects the extent and high demand for nets from a wide range of customers. Business records cover Schroeder’s dealings, for example, with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Navy, an ichthyological project, research cruise to Cuba, manufacturing companies, and universities.
Arrangement
The Business Records series follows Schroeder’s original alphabetical order that was first general (A-Z) and then topical (i.e. Bermuda Biological Station), followed by business records chronologically arranged.
1 1 A-B 1954-1965
2 C 1957-1965
3 D 1957-1967
4 F 1950-1960
5 G-L 1956-1967
6-7 M (2 ff.) 1953-1967
8-9 N-P (2 ff.) 1956-1968
10-11 R-S (2 ff.) 1953-1966
12 T 1956-1962
13 U-W 1955-1965
14 X-Z 1955-1963
15 1.5-m. stramin closing nets, drawing and description 1938
16 Bermuda Biological Station 1956-1957
17 Bureau of Fish, making of nets 1953
18 Canada 1955-1958
19 Columbia University 1955, (1957)
20 Cuba 1960
21 Fish and Wildlife Service; Boothbay Harbor, Milford CT, Michigan, NC, Oxford, MD, and Woods Hole 1950s-1960s
22 Florida State University 1954-1955
23 G.M. Manufacturing Co. 1957-1959
24 Harvard University Biological Lab. 1954
25 Ichthyology Project I-63 1953-1963
26 Miami 1949-1964
27 Navy 1952-1964
28 Netting for Byrd Antarctic Expedition II 1933
29 “Pending” 1956-1960
30 Specifications 1954-1963
31-34 Chronological (4 ff.) 1933-1947
35 Chronological 1946-1950
2 1-2 Chronological (2 ff.) 1946-1951
3 Chronological 1948-1953
4-5 Chronological (2 ff.) 1949-1952
6 Chronological 1952-1967
7 Chronological 1955-1957
8-9 Chronological (2 ff.) 1957-1964
10 Chronological 1958-1959
11 Chronological 1959-1961
12 Chronological 1959-1966
13 Chronological 1962-1963
14 Chronological 1964-1967
Correspondence 1917-1967 1 box (1.25 linear feet)
Scope and Content Note
The series consists of personal and professional correspondence covering areas of interest to Schroeder such as cod tagging, shark attacks, red crabs, and a Cuban trip, and documenting his relationship with WHOI, Henry B. Bigelow and Roman Vishniac. There are several folders documenting Schroeder’s appointments and work with the Bureau of Fisheries (box 2 ff. 16-19); a letter of commendation from Herbert Hoover (box 2, f.26); and letters from Schroeder’s father, known as “Pop Schroeder,” who was then Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds at WHOI (box 2, f. 31). General correspondence includes ichthyological discussions between Schroeder and the scientific and commercial fishing community as well as personal letters. Some photographs are interfiled with correspondence where appropriate.
Arrangement
The Correspondence series is arranged alphabetically by subject, followed by a group of chronologically arranged files.
2 15 American Museum of Natural History, loan of specimens 1927
16 Bureau of Fisheries, appointments and promotions 1917-1922
17 Bureau of Fisheries, travel orders and temporary employment 1922-1936
18-19 Bureau of Fisheries, work (2 ff.) 1917-1926
20 Charles J. Fish to Dr. Bigelow re. Cod November 14, 1924
21 Cod investigations, [1900?], 1924-1932
22 Cod tag Letters 1932-1936
23 Cruise orders from Henry Bigelow December 29, 1937
24-25 Cuban Trip (2 ff.) 1938-1939
26 Dept. of Commerce and H. Hoover Letter 1926-1935
27 Fishes of the Western North Atlantic 1957-1962
28 Foreign, cod, haddock, tags, etc. 1926-1929
29 Haddock-related, with W. Needler 1926-1930
30 J. Schmidt to Dr. Bigelow, re. cod experiments in Iceland and Greenland July 15, 1932
31 North American Council on Fishery Investigations; Committee meeting materials 1924-1930, 1936, 1938
32 “Pop” Schroeder 1933, 1937
33 Red Crabs 1949-1967
3 1 Roman Vishniac 1955-1959
2 Sea serpent 1939
3 Shark attacks 1938-1961
4 Shark identification 1958
5 WHOI employment 1932-1969
6 Chronological 1926, 1930-1932
7 Chronological 1933-1936
8 Chronological 1937-1939
9 Chronological 1940
10-11 Chronological (2 ff.) 1941
12 Chronological 1942
13 Chronological 1943-1944
14 Chronological 1945-1957
15 Chronological 1960-1967
16 Chronological 1968-1969
17 Chronological 1970-1978
Subject Files 1907-1964 .5 box (.75 linear foot)
Scope and Content Note
Subject files include Schroeder’s addenda to Fishes of the Gulf of Maine, 1953; publications by or of interest to Schroeder; notes and reports on various fish and cruises; and publicity about Schroeder.
Arrangement
Folders are arranged alphabetically by subject.
3 18 Atlantis station data, cruises 1-92 (not inclusive) 1931-1939
19 Cod food 1920s
20 Cod handled at Woods Hole, Mass., station 1925-1931
21 Cod tagging recaptures, charts 1924-1930
22 Cruises 1959, 1962
23 Diary: Our trip to Florida (with Herbert Drucklieb) 1916
24 Diary August 2-November 6, 1918
25 Diary 1918
26 Diary December 1921-September 1922
27 Fish and Wildlife Service – “Oregon” cruise, shark catch 1964
28 Fish notes (cod, haddock) early 1900s
29 Fish landings, recaptures, etc. 1945-1949
30 Fishes of the Gulf of Maine, by Bigelow and Schroeder 1953
31 Fishes of the Gulf of Maine, 1st rev.; Addendi 1953
32 Fishes of the West North Atlantic, Pt. 1, sharks; notes 1950-1951
33 Fishes of the West No. Atlantic, Pt. 1, correspondence and reviews 1949-1950
34 Gorman’s assorted fish drawings [1928?]
35 “Historical” notes re. ships, fishing, and gear undated
36 Nantucket shoals, data 1928
37 “Notes on the Fishes of the Continental Shelf of Southern New England” undated
38 Pollock data 1923-1928, 1932
39 Publications, general 1924-1962
40 Reports on cod tagging experiments in the Gulf of Maine from 1923-1932, drafts [1930s]
41 Rips 1924
42 Rips 1925
43 Rips 1926
44 Rips 1927
45 Rips 1929-1930
46 “Sponges” booklet, McKesson and Robbins 1907
Personal 1887-1981 1 box (.5 linear foot)
Scope and Content Note
The Personal series consists of various types of materials, including honors, primarily from Harvard; photographs; and personal family records including school books and drawings dated 1904-1906. There is an award from the Geographic Society of Cuba, and a diary from Schroeder's grandson.
Arrangement
Folders are arranged alphabetically by subject.
4 1 Bibliography undated
2 Diary of Herbert Clark (Schroeder’s grandson) 1958
3 Correspondence re. studies at George Washington and Harvard Universities 1923-1925
4 Harvard University: Thesis, Biology I, “Age determination of fish..” 1925
5 Harvard University: Schoolwork, drawings/histology and embryology 1925-1926
6 Harvard University: Schoolwork/drawings Zoology III 1925
7 Harvard University: Science course notes 1925-1926
8 Harvard University: Faculty appointments, etc 1936-1976
9 Honors and memberships 1940-1962
10 Personal and family records 1887-1971
11 Publicity 1898-1900, 1918-1981
12 William C. Schroeder Memorial Library, MCZ-Harvard 1981
13 Photocopy of award from Sociedad Geografica de Cuba 1939
14 Memorabilia: USS Fish Hawk inscription on cloth band undated