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George Reber Wieland papers

Call Number: MS 750

Scope and Contents

The papers represented in this collection, which were donated by Wieland's daughter in 1975, represent only a fraction of a larger body of papers which have apparently perished.


  • 1889-1953


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Mary Wieland, 1975; and Saskatchewan Museum of Natural History, 1985.


The collection is arranged into five series: Series I. Correspondence. Series II. Writings. Series III. Biographical and Personal Materials. Series IV. Printed Materials. Series V. Photographs and Prints.


2.75 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The papers include professional and family correspondence, periodicals and pamphlets, books annotated by George Reber Wieland and scientific and personal photographs. The professional correspondence deals with his scientific expeditions and with negotiations on his proposed gift to the United States of a tract of land in South Dakota known as the "Fossil Cycad National Monument."

Biographical / Historical

George Reber Wieland was born in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, on January 24, 1865, the son of Washington Frederick Wieland and Margaret Reber. Having received his B.S. degree from Pennsylvania State college in 1893, he studied at the University of Gottingen, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University, from which he received his Ph.D. in 1900. He married Elda Kristina Anderson of Nykoping, Sweden, in 1891.

Wieland entered Yale intending to study vertebrate paleontology, but during the summer of 1897 while aiding O. C. Marsh in collecting in South Dakota, he met the paleobotanist Lester Ward. Ward had made a collection of cycadeoid trunks in the Black Hills of South Dakota in 1893, and it was through Ward's encouragement and Marsh's collecting that Wieland's scientific interest in these fossil trunks flourished. It is principally through Wieland's efforts that Yale accumulated a collection of 1,000 specimens which is considered to be the world's largest collection of cycadeoids.

Wieland was an internationally recognized paleobotanist noted for his research on the fossils of cycads. He held several academic appointments at Yale: lecturer in paleobotany, 1906-1920; research assistant in paleobotany, 1924-1935; and Sterling Fellow in botany, 1928-1929. He took part in several expeditions in North and South America and in Europe, and he made two important discoveries in the Black Hills of South Dakota: a petrified forest of cycads and a skeleton of Archelon, the largest marine turtle known to science. The skeleton is on permanent display in Yale's Peabody Museum of Natural History.

Wieland took title as a homesteader to a 360-acre tract in the Black Hills. He gave it to the United States in 1922 for the purpose of establishing the Fossil Cycad National Monument, but he became involved in a public quarrel over this project with Harold Ickes, Roosevelt's Secretary of the Interior. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, plans to develop the monument were postponed indefinitely.

As well as being one of the first scientists to be designated a research associate of the Carnegie Institute, Wieland was also the recipient of a gold medal from Archduke Rainer of Austria and a medal for his dedicatory address at the Capellini Museum at Bologna.

Until his retirement in the 1940s, Wieland remained at Yale as a research associate. During his academic stay, he wrote his important two volumes on American Fossil Cycads (1906, 1916). Wieland died in 1953.

Guide to the George Reber Wieland Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Peter Bartucca
January 1976
Description rules
Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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