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Theodore R. Merrell Photograph Collection, 1958-

Identifier: PCA 450

Content Description

The slides in this collection document Theodore Merrell’s travels throughout Alaska as a field project leader and fishery research administrator. He traveled to Bristol Bay, Prince William Sound, Yakutat, the Yukon River, Cordova, Valdez, Aleutian Islands, Katmai, Northwestern Alaska, Arctic and Yukon River villages, and Southeast Alaska towns and field camps.


  • 1958-

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is available for viewing.

Biographical / Historical

Theodore Reed Merrell (Ted) was born in Superior, Wisconsin on June 12, 1923. He attended St. Olaf College until 1943, when he served in the Army during World War II. After the war, he completed a B.A. at St. Olaf in 1948 and an M.A. in Zoology and Fisheries at the University of Michigan in 1949. After serving six years as a fishery research biologist for the Oregon State Fish Commission, he became a Fishery Research Biologist in Juneau, Alaska, for Bureau of Commercial Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service, working at the Auke Bay Laboratory. As Ted managed the laboratory and field studies of effects of oil and clear-cut logging on fish and habitats, he documented the work and places. In addition, he photographed Juneau, his home base, as well as places throughout Alaska.

An outline of Ted’s fieldwork includes: As Chief of Salmon Ecology Investigations from 1958-1971: 1961 proposed Chariot nuclear project site baseline study 1961 proposed Rampart Dam baseline study Trans-Alaska pipeline construction and planning areas measure effects of underground nuclear weapons testing on Amchitka Island Aleutian shoreline debris 1969 DDT fish sample survey when he also observed Hickel Highway damage to North Slope tundra.

During a period from 1969-1974 Ted Merrell represented the Federal Bureau of Commercial Fisheries on Amchitka during underground tests of the nuclear warhead for the proposed Spartan U.S. Anti-Intercontinental Ballistic Missile System. He reviewed research of the Atomic Energy Commission-sponsored ecological studies, monitored the activities of AEC contractors and recommended measures to minimize harmful impacts on the environment. (See Nuclear Weapons Tests and the Environment of Amchitka Island, By Theodore R. Merrell for background information)

Ted married Doreen Gillett in 1946, with whom he had four children: Ted III, Bruce, Susan, and Melinda.


10 Volumes (10 Boxes) : 3668 slides, col. 80 b/w photographs 42 b/w photographs Published Studies & Correspondence 2 discs of digitized slide images

Language of Materials


Existence and Location of Copies

Photographs digitized and available for viewing via Alaska's Digital Archives: (1-) 0044-0065, 0103-0105, 0458-0470, 0472-0474, 0477, 0574-0576

Related Materials

Accession No. 2006-010 included documentation of nuclear weapons testing on Amchitka Island; documents are located at MS 228.

Processing Information

Slides were numbered and housed in Mylar. The order of the photographs was retained. Most item descriptions are from Ted Merrell’s notes. Slide type varies: Kodachrome, Ektachrome, Agfachrome placed in plastic or cardboard mounts. Some of the slides arrived sleeved in Vue-all or original archival slide protectors. Accession No. 2006-010 included documentation of nuclear weapons testing on Amchitka Island; documents are located at MS 228. Items described at folder and/ or item level. Photos left in original order and original envelopes. The collection is grouped into four series. Series are marked with Roman numerals on boxes and folders; however, cardinal numerals substitute for Roman on individual items.

Finding Aid for the Theodore R. Merrell Photograph Collection, 1958-
In Progress
Processed by: Kay Shelton, Oct. 2004; Gerald Lopez, March 2005; James Simard, Dec. 2006, Sept. 2007; Anastasia Tarmann, 2008-present; ArchivesSpace Finding Aid by: Melissa Scriven, April 2019
2019 April
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Alaska State Library - Historical Collections Finding Aids Repository

PO Box 110571
Juneau AK 99811-0571 US
907-465-2151 (Fax)