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Alfred Goldsborough Mayor Papers

An Inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: --
Date: Nov. 1966

Biographical History

Alfred G. Mayor was born in Frederick County, Maryland in 1868, the son of Alfred M. Mayor, noted physicist. At his father's wishes, he obtained a degree in mechanical engineering from the Stevens Institute of Technology in 1889. After graduation, he became an assistant in physics, first at Clark University and then at the University of Kansas. But his real love was natural history and so after three years he entered Harvard to pursue his doctorate. He became associated with Alpheus Hyatt II and Alexander Agassiz, serving as Agassiz's assistant. He was also given charge of the collection of radiates in the Museum of Comparative Zoology, a post he held for eight years. He accompanied Agassiz on several expeditions to tropical seas, gaining first-hand experience. Through his friendship with Alpheus Hyatt the noted paleontologist, he met the professor's daughter, Harriet Hyatt, whom he married in 1900.

That same year Dr. Mayor became chief curator of the Brooklyn Institute and four years later rose to the post of director of marine zoology studies for the Carnegie Institution. He became most interested in marine biology and soon established an experimental station off Key West, Florida on an inlet called Dry Tortugas. Here he spent much time in his later years studying the area with a group of assistants. He also led expeditions to the coral reefs of Samoa, Fiji and other South Pacific islands.

His scientific papers include works on the evolution of snails, the coloration of insects, the nature of the nervous impulse and the formation and rate of growth of coral reefs.

He developed tuberculosis, and finally succumbed in 1922. He was survived by his wife and four children, Alpheus Hyatt Mayor, Katharine Mayor Cook Townsend, Brantz Mayor, and Barbara Mayor Money.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Alfred G. Mayor Papers include biographical material, correspondence, an address book, bills, and receipts, legal papers, books and articles as well as expedition journals, 1893 and 1896-1897, extensive notebooks, sketches, and sketchbooks, and published materials consisting of articles and newspaper clippings about Dr. Mayor and others and articles about others.

Correspondence, includes incoming and outgoing correspondence, as well as letters to and from others. Subject File, contains an address book, awards, bills and receipts, lists, legal papers, maps, notes and cards, and a scrapbook. Photographs, includes pictures of Dry Tortugas, Florida, family and friends, other people and places, Samoa coral (1919-1920) and the South Seas. Manuscripts, consists of books and articles by Dr. Mayor, expedition journals, notebooks, sketches and sketchbooks. Published Material, contains articles about and by Dr. Mayor, articles about others and newspaper clippings about Dr. Mayor and others.

Arrangement of the Collection

The incoming letters are arranged alphabetically by author and the outgoing letters are arranged chronologically. Letters to an from others are arranged alphabetically by author. Photographs are arranged alphabetically by subject with negatives, both in film and glass, at the end. Subject File, Manuscripts, and Published Material are arranged alphabetically by type.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

The Special Collections Research Center has numerous collections for the Hyatt-Mayor families. For information on members of the Hyatt, Mayor, Beebe, and Huntington families see the SCRC Subject Index for the finding aids of individual family members.

Subject Headings


Huntington, Anna Hyatt, 1876-1973.
Hyatt family.
Hyatt, Audella Beebe, 1840-1932.
Mayor family.
Mayor, A. Hyatt |q (Alpheus Hyatt), 1901-
Mayor, Alfred Goldsborough, 1868-1922 -- Archives.
Mayor, Harriet Randolph Hyatt, 1868-1960.


Naturalists -- United States.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Manuscripts for publication.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Alfred Goldsborough Mayor Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Table of Contents


Subject File



Published Material