Leonard Peter Schultz and the Beginning of the Fish Collection

The College (i.e., School) of Fisheries at the University of Washington was established in 1919 (Fig. 4).  The founding Dean was John Nathan Cobb, who lived from 1868-1930 (Fig. 5).  Cobb was not a scientist; indeed, he did not even possess a college degree.  He was experienced in fisheries, however, and was highly respected in the commercial fishing community.  He had worked as a “field agent” for the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, for the west coast commercial fishing industry, and as an editor of the trade magazine Pacific Fisherman.8 

          During the first decade of its existence, the School was directed toward “practical” aspects of the commercial fishing industry.  Courses in food preservation, canning, techniques of fishing, and fish culture were the focus of the curriculum (Fig. 6).  Many people in the University did not appreciate the emphasis of the School on such “non-academic” subjects (Stickney, 1989).  Cobb, hoping to deflect some of this criticism, decided to establish a Department of Ichthyology that would be “separate” from the more applied aspects of the School, and in 1927 he began to search for an ichthyologist to fill the new position.9 

          One of the first applicants for this advertised position was Leonard Peter Schultz (1901-1986).10  Schultz was then an instructor in zoology at Michigan State Normal College at Ypsilanti (Fig. 7).  He received an M.S. degree in zoology in 1926 under Carl Leavitt Hubbs (1894-1979) at the University of Michigan (Anon., 1976a).11  Schultz was apparently planning to pursue a Ph.D. in ichthyology at Michigan.  He was familiar with the School of Fisheries as he had accompanied Hubbs to Washington State on a collecting trip in the summer of 1926.  Schultz also met Cobb during that trip.12  Cobb offered the new position to Schultz.13

          Schultz was hired for the academic year 1928-1929 at the rank of instructor with a salary of $2,500.  Schultz was to teach ichthyology, a course to be called “problems in ichthyology” that he was to develop, and to participate in seminars.  He was to complete his doctoral degree, at which time he would be advanced to assistant professor.14  Schultz moved to Seattle in September 1928 and immediately began to collect fishes and to establish a systematic fish collection at the School. 

          Many years later, Schultz recalled that when he arrived at the School a small collection of fishes was housed in the basement of the fish hatchery building.  It apparently contained a few thousand specimens and Schultz wrote that the Collection contained “co-types” obtained in the 1880s and 1890s.15   The Collection had been built up over the years by the Young Naturalists’ Society of Seattle (Benson, 1986a, b; Pietsch, 1997).16

Both Schultz and Dean Cobb had great expectations for the future of ichthyology at the School of Fisheries.  At Cobb’s direction, Schultz planned new laboratories for the study of fishes as well as a vault for the storage of the Collection.  In a 1928 proposal titled “Equipment for Proposed New Fisheries Building,” Schultz asked for four tables and 25 chairs to accommodate 20 people in the “Library of the Ichthyology Department,” in just one aspect of the initiative.17

Dean Cobb had heart problems and died in January 1930 (Schultz, 1930).  The proposed “Department of Ichthyology” did not materialize. The UW President, Matthew Lyle Spencer (1881-1969), was not impressed with the applied emphasis of the School of Fisheries and, upon Cobb’s death, dissolved the School.  All faculty of the School were dismissed, except for Schultz, who was considered a “bona fide” academic and was transferred to the Department of Zoology (Stickney, 1989).

The termination of the School brought a wave of protest from the students in the School as well as from representatives of the commercial fishing industry.  After the intervention of Governor of Washington Roland Hill Hartley (1864-1952) in 1930, the School was re-established as a Department of Fisheries in a new College of Science.18  William Francis Thompson (1888-1965), the Director of the International Fisheries Commission then housed in the School of Fisheries buildings, was appointed Director of the new Department on a part-time basis (Fig. 8).19  Schultz was re-assigned to Fisheries from the Department of Zoology (Stickney, 1989).

Schultz completed his doctorate in 1932 in the UW Department of Zoology, writing his dissertation on the life history of the bay smelt, Atherinops afinis oregonia, of the Pacific Coast (see Appendix; Schultz, 1933).  He was duly promoted to Assistant Professor.  Schultz taught ichthyology and supervised the graduate work of several students, most notably William McCleod Chapman (1910-1970) who would later become Director of the School of Fisheries and a renowned expert on commercial fisheries (Appendix).  He published keys to the fishes of Washington and Oregon (Schultz, 1936) and a distributional paper on the fishes of the Pacific Northwest (Schultz and DeLacy, 1935, 1936).  Schultz also produced other papers on fishes of the region.20

Schultz undertook a vigorous collection program during his nine-year tenure at the University of Washington.  Indeed, even today his efforts account for an estimated 20% of the number of adult fishes in the Collection.  He entered into the Collection an estimated 4,216 lots of fishes (Table 1), thus establishing a valuable teaching and research resource. 21

In late 1936, Schultz accepted a position as an assistant curator at the U.S. National Museum (USNM), Smithsonian Institution, at a considerable increase in salary.  On 26 November 1936, Schultz shipped, without permission, 525 lots containing 6,860 fishes to the USNM, either as a gift or loan to be determined upon Schultz’s arrival at the Museum.  Of the six tanks and one keg shipped to the Museum, all but two contained cataloged specimens from the School’s Fish Collection; the remaining specimens were uncataloged.22  On 8 December 1936, Schultz sent to the USNM “a typewritten list of the fish specimens recently sent from the School of Fisheries collection to the U.S. National Museum by me.”  The list indicates the transfer included five holotypes, 17 paratypes, and 14 “co-types.”23

Schultz did not tell Director Thompson of his action, but left him an inventory of the specimens that had been shipped to the USNM.  Thompson was dismayed, writing to Schultz on 26 January 1937, “We have just been looking over the fish collection here and over the list of specimens which you left as having been sent to the U.S. National Museum.”  He further wrote, “it is apparent that the collection is in many respects reduced so far as to embarrass the teaching during the coming quarter.  I am having some difficulty explaining the situation.”24

Schultz responded to Thompson on 1 February 1937, “It was with considerable surprise that I received your letter of Jan. 26 in regard to the fish collection there at Seattle with the general idea that I had sent so many fish to the U. S. National Museum that perhaps the collection there was depleted.  I can not quite agree with you in this matter and shall attempt to discuss the matter at some length.”  Schultz then discussed the Collection and noted that many additional uncataloged fishes were available for teaching purposes.  He claimed that the specimens sent to the USNM did not “represent 1/50th of the cataloged collection.”  Schultz wrote, “Of course if you wish I can return the entire lot or any portion of it that is requested but I feel you will not need the fish right away after examining the collection more carefully.”25

Schultz then gave his rationale for the transfer of fishes.  “Incidentally over 80% of the fish which I sent here were collected by me at my own expense and on my own time.  During the 9 years of my tenure at the University of Washington, that institution contributed but 36 dollars toward the collection of fish, and that for Atherinops [i.e., for his dissertation work], all of which specimens are still there.”  He then told Thompson that there should be “no difficulty” in explaining the situation concerning the fishes “for there still remain somewhere at 100,000 or more cataloged and unidentified fish at the School of Fisheries.”26

Schultz, however, offered an “exchange” for the fishes taken.  “If you desire an exchange and wish to deposit the specimens which I sent here as an exchange I think it could be arranged.”  He asked Thompson what the latter wanted and indicated that he would cooperate, as “he did not wish to embarrass anyone.”  Schultz concluded his defense, writing, “I regret that you should have had occasion to feel that I depleted the fish collection there for I am sure that that is not the case.”27

Further correspondence ensued and an agreement to exchange fishes was made between Schultz and Thompson on 10 June 1937.28  Arthur Welander, a fishery biologist who replaced Schultz in overseeing the Collection and in teaching ichthyology, compiled a list of fishes the School desired in exchange and Thompson forwarded it to Schultz.29  In September 1937, Schultz sent a proposed exchange list containing 114 or more species in 90 families.  Schultz also proposed to return, as requested in Thompson’s letter, 58 lots of UW cataloged fishes containing about 114 specimens.  Finally, there were another 29 lots of UW cataloged fishes, containing about 494 specimens that Schultz desired to keep for “further study.”  In a compromise about this latter group, he proposed to return one-half the samples to the UW and to retain the remainder at the USNM. 30

The School agreed to these terms of exchange in late September and it was completed in November 1937.31  The USNM exchanged considerably fewer total fishes than Schultz had “transferred.”  Schultz sent a total of only 1,066 specimens in 198 lots to the UW.  This total included the return of 78 lots and 607 specimens previously transferred to the USNM.  Apparently the School was mainly interested in preserving a teaching collection of fishes, with rather little thought directed toward retaining a research collection.  However, the specimens shipped to UW from USNM added significantly to the geographical diversity of the UW Fish Collection, as the exchanged specimens were collected from various localities in the U.S., Central America, central and southeast Asia, and the Caribbean.32  The completion of the exchange seemed to end the controversy over the “missing fishes.”33

Over the years, however, Schultz became a frequent critic of the School of Fisheries for its failure to pursue a vigorous program in systematic ichthyology.  Ichthyological research was not conducted in the School from the time Schultz left in 1937 until 1948 when Albert Herre was hired to oversee the Fish Collection and to conduct research on Philippine fishes.  But Herre did not teach nor did he supervise graduate students.  Herre retired in 1957 due to failing health.

In 1958, rather than writing directly to Richard Van Cleve (1906-1984), the Dean of the School, Schultz wrote to the President of the University, Charles E. Odegaard (1911-1999).  In that letter, Schultz commented on the “unfavorable reputation of Academic quality of systematic ichthyology at the University of Washington….”  He mentioned work done by two graduate students in the School of Fisheries whom he felt lacked proper guidance and counseling that resulted in their submitting for publication either poorly or erroneously prepared manuscripts.  Schultz had reviewed these manuscripts and he attached copies of the correspondence concerning these papers.  Schultz emphasized that he was not blaming the students who had sought counsel from the USNM; rather he felt that competent advice should have been available to the students within the School of Fisheries.  He concluded his letter by recommending “the appointment of a young Ph.D. who is productive in ichthyological research and has ability to teach an excellent course in ichthyology.”34   

Schultz’s letter to President Odegaard was duly referred to the School of Fisheries for reply.  In a cover letter to the Provost of the University, Van Cleve defended the School’s position and blamed a lack of funds for the absence of an ichthyologist on the faculty.  Should funds become available, he wrote, the School would be interested in hiring an ichthyologist.  In a three-page appendix to this letter, the School responded to each point made in Schultz’s letter.  The School also disparaged Schultz’s work, commenting particularly on a paper he published in 1958 describing three new species of serranid fishes.  Van Cleve wrote, “In our opinion Dr. Schultz has not demonstrated that these fish are new species.  It is unfortunate that a man of his stature would attempt to publish such a paper.”  Later, Van Cleve wrote, “We are now part of a long list of fisheries workers who are the subject of Dr. Schultz’s hypercritical remarks.”35

Schultz wrote a second letter to the University President in June 1960.  He pointed out that among the 34 members of the teaching and research faculty, and research staff in the School of Fisheries, not one was an ichthyologist.  This, Schultz asserted, “shows a lack of balance in the basic sciences of ichthyology.”36

It is of interest to note that despite the disagreements between the School of Fisheries and Leonard P. Schultz, these differences appeared to be confined to a professional level.  Schultz remained friends with Thompson and Van Cleve, as numerous letters in the UW Archives will attest.  Schultz was apparently a very likeable fellow.  In an obituary of Schultz, Springer (1987) wrote, “Leonard had detractors amongst his colleagues, and was subjected to considerable criticism.  Had his research been regarded more highly by his peers he might have escaped much of their obloquy.  Many who were not ichthyologists, and some who were, however, liked and respected Leonard for his generous and kindly nature, and the great many important good things he accomplished.”



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