J. Percy Moore papers
Held at: Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia [Contact Us]1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA, 19103
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John Percy Moore (1869-1965) was a Professor of Zoology at the University of Pennsylvania from 1912 to 1939, an Assistant Curator at the Academy of Natural Sciences from 1902 to 1938, and held several positions between 1920 and 1956 at the Ludwick Institute, which offered free lectures and courses in the natural sciences. He was also a world recognized authority on leeches. During his career, Moore named six genera, 229 species, five subspecies and four varieties of polychaetous annelids, or segmented worms (Loi 1980).
J. Percy Moore was born in 1869 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. His father worked as a salesman who specialized in safes and bank vaults. His family moved several times when he was a child and in 1876, they moved to Philadelphia, living “in various places including a spot at the edge of the city where Nature was close and inviting,” (American Philosophical Society, page 192). His exposure to nature increased his interest in science and, as a child, he collected live specimens of insects, bird skins and eggs, some of which he was allowed to keep in his home for observation.
Around the age of eleven, Moore first met the eminent scientist, Joseph Leidy (1823-1891) at the Wagner Free Institute of Science while attending one of Leidy's lectures on Zoology. In recalling his subsequent and ongoing relationship with Leidy, Moore stated, "it was my supreme good fortune to be associated with Dr. Leidy in the general relation of student to teacher from 1880 to his death in 1891," (Moore, 1960).
Moore's involvement with the Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia began when he was a young man. While a student at the Central High School in Philadelphia one of his teachers introduced him to the librarian of the Academy. Moore stated, ". . . Dr. Jacob Holt, Prof. of Natural History and Physiology, introduced me to Dr. [Edward James] Nolan, the Secretary and Librarian [of the Academy], and I was given the privilege of using the library and a free card of admission to the museum. From that time I attended the Tuesday evening meetings of the Academy (as an invited visitor)," (Moore, 1960).
After earning his A.B. degree in 1886, Moore went on to study at the University of Pennsylvania, earning his BS in 1892 and his Ph.D. in 1896. While Moore was an undergraduate student in the School of Biology at the University of Pennsylvania, Joseph Leidy, his old friend, served as director. Moore’s association with the University of Pennsylvania soon became more than student and he served as Assistant Instructor from 1890 to 1892, Instructor from 1892 to 1907, Assistant Professor from 1907 to 1912, Professor from 1912 to 1939, and Professor Emeritus in 1939.
He shared his knowledge with many through his teaching at the Hahnemann Medical College from 1896 to 1898 and at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, Massachusetts from 1901 to 1902. He also worked for the United States National Museum, Smithsonian Institution as an Honorary Research Associate in Marine Invertebrates.
Moore's older brother H. Frank Moore served as the Deputy Commissioner of Fisheries at the Bureau of Fisheries, and Moore worked there, on as-needed basis, as Scientific Assistant from 1890 to 1919. His work for the Bureau of Fisheries included the study of mackerel propagation and the use of fishes for control of mosquitoes in northern fresh waters of the United States.
Moore worked at the Academy of Natural Sciences, serving in a variety of capacities, from 1902 to 1957. He worked as Assistant Curator from 1902 to 1938, Corresponding Secretary from 1902 to 1940, and Trustee from 1940 to 1957, and was eventually made an Honorary Life Trustee. He also served on the Library Committee, as chairman for many years; the Committee on Publications from 1923 to 1936; and the Council. Moore was a Research Associate of the Department of Mollusks and Honorary Associate and later, Honorary Research Fellow of the Department of Mollusks and other Invertebrates. As a Trustee, Moore served on special committees where he worked on the Edward Drinker Cope memorial bust, the Joseph Leidy statue that stands outside of the Academy building, and Joseph Leidy's biography.
Moore was repeatedly approached by colleagues to write Joseph Leidy's biography and he always declined. However, he was actively involved in the project as a collaborator and editor. Joseph Leidy's grandnephew, Philip Leidy, commissioned Charles S. Dolley of the Wistar Institute and a former associate of Joseph Leidy in the School of Biology at the University of Pennsylvania, to write a full length biography on Joseph Leidy. Dolley was approached because, according to Edwin G. Conklin (1863-1952), former President of the American Philosophical Society, ". . . he [Dolley] was really an adopted son of Joseph Leidy living in the Leidy home and thoroughly capable of presenting the personal side of Leidy" (Conklin 1951). The expectation was that Dolley would produce a draft and Moore would act as editor. However, Dolley died in 1948, and the whereabouts of his notes for the book remain unknown. Upon Dolley's death, Conklin, Moore and Philip P. Calvert acted as an informal advisory committee for Leidy's biography. In 1951, at Conklin's suggestion, George Howard Parker (1864-1955) was asked to write Leidy's biography and told that he would have to start from scratch. Parker did not make known that he was in ill health and had great difficulty completing the biography. Parker produced a draft, but died in 1955 before the project was complete. David Henry Wenrich (1885-1968) took up the project in 1956 and produced a significant amount of research on the biography of Leidy. Wenrich died in 1968 before any of his materials were published. A biography on Leidy by Leonard Warren, Joseph Leidy : the Last Man who Knew Everything, was published in 1998.
In addition to his responsibilities at the Academy, Moore worked at the Ludwick Institute. The Ludwick Institute was first organized in 1799, offering free educational courses to underpriviliged children. Around 1890, the growing public education system in Philadelphia supplanted a need for the Ludwick Institute’s free services, and in 1895, it became affiliated with the Academy of Natural Sciences. The Academy continued to offer free lectures sponsored by the Ludwick Institute. The lectures focused on the natural sciences and research conducted at the Academy. Moore acted as manager of the Ludwick Institute from 1920 to 1956, and served as Vice President from 1928 to 1942 and as President from 1942 to 1956. He also lectured at the Academy under the sponsorship of the Ludwick Institute.
Moore authored approximately one hundred publications during his career. The majority had to do with leeches, but others dealt with polychaete worms and oligochaetes. Moore wrote brief biographies on notable figures such as Samuel George Morton, William Maclure, Philip P. Calvert and others. He also co-authored a book on Hirundinea with W. D. Harding which was published in 1927. In addition, he was involved in Biological Abstracts and Journal of Morphology.
Moore was known as “a leading American authority on the annelid worms, especially the leeches. No narrow specialist, however, he was conversant with the whole of zoology and broadly interested in biology in general” (American Philosophical Society, page 191). Indeed, his other interests included invertebrates, birds, reptiles, amphibians, eggs, sponges, salamanders and fish. He also researched and lectured on evolution and heredity. His interests resulted in travel around the country and he spent the academic year of 1930 to 1931 in India studying land leeches.
Moore was a member of several professional societies. He was a member of the American Philosophical Society starting in 1918, and he served on their Committee on the Library from 1941 to 1952. He was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the American Society of Naturalists, the American Society of Zoologists, the American Society of Parasitologists, the Ecological Society of America, the Society of Limnology and Oceanography, the Society for the Study of Evolution, the Society of Systematic Zoology, and the Societe de Zoologie.
In 1892, Moore married Kathleen Carter who was a fellow student at the University of Pennsylvania. Kathleen earned a Certificate in Biology in 1890, a Bachelor of Science from Barnard in 1892 and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1895. Together, they had four children. Kathleen died in 1920. Moore died on March 1, 1965, survived by one daughter, Dr. Elinor Moore Irvin, a PhD in Physiological Chemistry. Moore was described as “a delightful companion, well-informed, relatively calm, friendly, and with a keen sense of humor,” (American Philosophical Society, page 196).
American Philosophical Society. Yearbook of the American Philosophical Society, 1965.
Unpublished letter. (1951). From Edwin G. Conklin to George H. Parker.
Loi, Tran-Ngoc. (1980) "Catalogue of the Types of Polychaete Species Erected by J. Percy Moore." Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. 132:121-149.
Unpublished letter. (1948). From J. Percy Moore to Dr. Frank Raw.
Unpublished manuscript. (1960). Moore, J. Percy. Leidy Memorial.
Phillips, Venia T. and Maurice E. Phillips. (1963). Guide to the Manuscript Collections in the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. Philadelphia: Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia.
Smithsonian Institution Archives. Historical note for J. Percy (John Percy) Moore Papers, 1888-1965 and undated, Record Unit 7265.
This collection documents the work of J. Percy Moore, primarily his study of leeches. The papers also include Moore's work at the Academy of Natural Sciences as a Trustee, Chair of the Academy's Library Committee, the Ludwick Institute, University of Pennsylvania, Bureau of Fisheries, the Philadelphia Metropolitan Library Committee and the American Philosophical Library Committee. The collection’s primary strength, however, is Moore's specimen notes, illustrations and photographs of annelids (Annelida), which is the biological classification of ragworms, earthworms and leeches. Moore's lecture notes and manuscripts provide additional contextual information regarding his specimen research. Additionally, of special interest is Moore's India expedition in 1931-1932, which is visually well documented, although the collection contains very little related written material. Also of note, is Moore's correspondence regarding Joseph Leidy's biography and the biographies of Samuel George Morton and William Maclure. Moore's work with the Academy as a Trustee, as well as his activities with the Ludwick Institute and the Bureau of Fisheries is also fairly well represented. Additionally, Edward Drinker Copes' collection of Joseph Hyrtl papers are of particular interest. This collection has high research value for those interested in the history of science, the study of annelids, specifically leeches, and Moore's career.
The collection is divided into sixteen series, each representing a particular aspect of his professional life. The series are: "Specimen notes and illustrations," "Travel logs/Field notes," "Manuscripts and related notes," "Lecture notes," "Correspondence regarding biographies on Joseph Leidy, Samuel George Morton and William Maclure," "Professional Correspondence," "Edward Drinker Cope's collection of Joseph Hyrtl papers," "Academy of Natural Sciences records," "Extramural Committees," "Ludwick Institute papers," "Bureau of Fisheries papers," "Reprints, pamphlets, and books," "Photographs," "Glass transparencies/glass negatives," "16mm film reels," and "Lantern slides."
The "Specimen notes and illustrations" series documents Moore's research on various annelid specimens. The materials are either pencil drawings or written notes made by Moore, often both. The species names are identified except in cases where Moore studied various species at a particular location. In these instances the place name is given instead of the species name. The series dates from 1883 to 1955 and is arranged chronologically.
The "Travel logs/Field notes" series contains note books and other documents written by Moore while studying on location in Colorado, North Carolina, Utah, the Bahamas, and the west coast of the United States, as well as field observations related to bird watching. The series dates from 1887 to 1945 and is arranged chronologically.
The "Manuscripts and related notes" series contains research notes and typescript or manuscript versions of articles primarily written by Moore. There are also articles written by others which were frequently sent as drafts to Moore for review. Articles written by an author other than Moore are specified in the folder title. Also, not all of the manuscripts were published. Known unpublished manuscripts are marked as such. In addition, there are research notes related to specific publications. The series dates from 1890 to 1962 and is arranged chronologically.
The "Lecture notes" series contains notes of lectures written and presented by Moore, as well as Moore's notes taken during lectures he attended. The lectures are primarily on geology; biology; invertebrates; and evolution and heredity, with heavy emphasis on the latter. Newspaper clippings on evolution and heredity are included here as well. Lectures given by professors other than Moore are indicated in the folder title. This series dates from 1888 to 1947 and is arranged chronologically.
Moore’s correspondence is maintained in two series. The "Correspondence regarding biographies on Joseph Leidy, Samuel George Morton and William Maclure" series documents Moore's involvement with the writing and publication of biographies on scientists: Joseph Leidy, Samuel George Morton and William Maclure. The series is divided into two subseries, "Joseph Leidy" and "Samuel George Morton and William Maclure." The correspondence related to Joseph Leidy’s biography contains letters between Moore and Philip Leidy, Charles Dolley, George Howard Parker, David H. Weinrich, Philip P. Calvert, Edwin G. Conklin and several others who were involved in the ongoing project. Moore wrote biographies on Samuel George Morton and William Maclure and for both biographies, extensively used the "Samuel George Morton papers" at the American Philosophical Society. Because he used the same material for both biographies, his correspondence regarding his research overlaps significantly. The letters found in this collection are between Moore and the American Philosophical Society; the University of Illinois; and Mary Effie Cameron James, a graduate student writing a dissertation on Maclure, among others. There are also transcribed copies of the Morton and Maclure letters. Both subseries are arranged chronologically.
The "Professional correspondence" series contains Moore’s incoming and some outgoing correspondence with students and colleagues regarding the exchange of specimens, books, publications and reprints. It is divided into two subseries, "Alphabetical" and "Chronological," reflecting two distinct, existing arrangement schemes. The "Alphabetical" subseries dates from 1909 to 1940 and is arranged alphabetically by correspondent's last name. The "Chronological" subseries dates from 1897 to 1948 and is arranged chronologically.
The "Edward Drinker Cope's collection of Joseph Hyrtl papers" series contains the papers of the renowned Austrian anatomist Professor Joseph Hyrtl (1810-1894). The papers in this series are Hyrtl's "release of debt" receipts for the purchase and mounting of fish skeletons from a variety of sources, as well as letters to Hyrtl, presumably related to the fish skeleton collection. Hyrtl's papers were inherited by Moore upon the death of Edward Drinker Cope (1840-1897), Corresponding Secretary of the Academy of Natural Sciences and paleontologist, anatomist and ichthyologist. Cope purchased Hyrtl's collection of 800 fish skeletons around 1865 and combined the specimens with his own collection for a total of 1,000 fish skeletons. In 1871, the American Association for the Advancement of Science published Cope's, "Systematic Relations of the Fishes," which was completed using the enormous collection of fish skeletons. Upon Cope's death, a catalog on fresh water mollusca and these related papers were bequeathed to Moore, which Moore received in 1898. The Hyrtl materials are primarily written in German and, to a lesser extent, French and date from 1847 to 1869. Original order was maintained, with the exception of the materials from Cope's representatives that were sent to Moore regarding his inheritance of these papers, which are filed at the end of this series.
The "Academy of Natural Sciences records" series documents Moore's time serving on the Academy's Board of Trustees and as Chairman of the Library Committee. The materials have been divided into two subseries, "Board of Trustees" and "Library Committee". The "Board of Trustees" subseries contains meeting minutes and correspondence related to Moore's activities as a Trustee, including his work on committees for the creation of statuary within the Academy, specifically, the Edward Drinker Cope bust and the statue of Joseph Leidy. In addition, there are papers related to Moore’s participation in the selection of recipients of the Leidy Medal and composing a document about the state of the Academy. The "Board of Trustees" subseries dates from 1919 to 1959 and is arranged chronologically. The "Library Committee" subseries includes meeting minutes, the librarian's report, library budget papers, and correspondence regarding additions, recommendations, exchanges of collection material; book binding and repairs; lists of holdings and other related activities of the library. The "Library Committee" subseries dates from 1934 to 1959 and is arranged chronologically.
The "Extramural Committees" series contains materials related to Moore's involvement in activities outside of the Academy including; programs from the Eighth American Scientific Congress in 1940; a list of Japanese works in certain Philadelphia libraries prepared for the U.S. Army by the Philadelphia Union Library Center; a member list, bibliography and constitution of the Society for Study of Speciation; correspondence and minutes of the American Philosophical Society Library Committee and the Philadelphia Metropolitan Library Council. The series dates from 1940 to 1945. The series is arranged alphabetically by committee. The folders of each committee are then arranged chronologically.
The "Ludwick Institute papers" series houses correspondence, lecture schedules, meeting minutes, lecture programs, annual budgets, and some lecture notes given by Moore. This series dates from 1904 to 1963 and is arranged chronologically.
The "Bureau of Fisheries papers" documents Moore's work as Scientific Assistant with the Bureau of Fisheries. The series contains correspondence, research field notes, photographs of mosquitoes and of "Carr Pond", travel orders and regulations, manuscripts of Moore's reports to the Bureau, bibliographic notes, and maps. The series documents his work related to the study of makerels and the control of the mosquito population in the northern United States. These materials date from 1897 and 1908 to 1936, and are arranged chronologically.
The "Reprints, pamphlets, and books" series contains copies of various publications that were collected by Moore. Publication subjects vary greatly and include biographies as well as zoological works. There are items written by Edward D. Cope, A.E. Verril and others, as well as American Institute of Sacred Literature pamphlets. There is also an index card file containing reprint requests for publications related to Oligochaeta. The series is arranged chronologically.
The "Photographs" series is divided into two subseries, "Annelid specimens" and "India Expedition and photograph record notebook." The images of annelid specimens are mostly leeches. The photographs are identified on the back with species name and date, and range from 1920 to 1947. Researchers should note, these photographs are not arranged beyond the series level. The "India Expedition and photograph record notebook" subseries contains what appears to be contact sheets cut up into strips of two or three pictures. These photographs appear to be the same as Moore’s lantern slides of the same trip. Moore's India expedition took place in 1930 to 1931. These photographs are in original order and the series includes a notebook containing information regarding the location and subject of the photographs, which also corresponds to the lantern slides of the expedition.
The "Glass transparencies and negatives" series contains images of goldfish that were published in an article by R.T. Hance on heredity; fishes and pygmy hippo images; and accompanying images from Moore's lecture, "What Evolution is Not."
The "16mm Film" series contains eighty small reels and three larger reels, fifty six of the smaller reeels are primarily from Moore's India Expedition of 1930-1931. The reels are labeled with location, date, species name and occasionally brief comments on quality of the film. The films are numbered by Moore. The films from 1932 contain moving images of a varity of animals such as frogs, squirrels, chipmunks and rabbits. Of the twenty-four additional reels of film, fourteen document a 1928 trip in the Western United States, including visits to Yellowstone National Park, Sunset Carter, the Grand Canyon, Walnut Canyon and San Francisco. The remaining ten films are not well marked and have unknown contents. There is also a box of twenty film rolls from the India Expedition. The series has been arranged according to the numerical order assigned by Moore.
The "Lantern slides" series contains images of Moore's India Expedition and a series of lantern slides created for a presentation he gave at Yellowstone National Park. The materials are undated and remain in their original order.
The processing of this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project.
This collection was minimally processed in 2009-2011, as part of an experimental project conducted under the auspices of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries to help eliminate processing backlog in Philadelphia repositories. A minimally processed collection is one processed at a less intensive rate than traditionally thought necessary to make a collection ready for use by researchers. When citing sources from this collection, researchers are advised to defer to folder titles provided in the finding aid rather than those provided on the physical folder.
Employing processing strategies outlined in Mark Greene's and Dennis Meissner's 2005 article, More Product, Less Process: Revamping Traditional Processing Approaches to Deal With Late 20th-Century Collections, the project team tested the limits of minimal processing on collections of all types and ages, in 23 Philadelphia area repositories. A primary goal of the project, the team processed at an average rate of 2-3 hours per linear foot of records, a fraction of the time ordinarily reserved for the arrangement and description of collections. Among other time saving strategies, the project team did not extensively review the content of the collections, replace acidic folders or complete any preservation work.
- Cope, Edward Drinker, 1840-1897
- Hyrtl, Joseph, 1811-1894
- Leidy, Joseph, 1823-1891
- Maclure, William, 1763-1840
- Moore, J. Percy, 1869-1965
- Morton, Samuel George, 1799-1851
- Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia.
- American Philosophical Society.
- Ludwick Institute (Philadelphia, Pa.).
- Marine Biological Laboratory (Woods Hole, Mass.).
- Philadelphia Metropolitan Library Council.
- United States National Museum.
- United States. Bureau of Fisheries.
- University of Pennsylvania.
- Scientific expeditions
- Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Laurie Rizzo
- The processing of this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project.
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