ArchivesSpace Public Interface

D. Elden Beck papers Edit


WASH 012
Finding Aid Author
Amanda M. Reeve
Finding Aid Date
2013 May 13
Description Rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of Description


  • 1930-1977 (Creation)


  • 0.42 Linear Feet (Whole)
    1 manuscript box and 1 slide binder

Agent Links



  • Abstract

    The D. Elden Beck papers cover the years 1930 through 1977 and contain original and photocopied correspondence, historical photographs, published booklets, colored slides, original colored-pencil art by Ralph Huntsman, a copy of a short story by Maurine Whipple, and a biographical sketch of Beck.

  • Biographical/Historical note

    D. Elden Beck was born in Spanish Fork, Utah in 1906. In 1925 Beck started college at Brigham Young University and went on to earn a PhD from Iowa State College. Beck spent about 5 years from 1933 to 1938 in the Dixie area and was made head of the Biology Department at Dixie Junior College soon after his arrival.

    An avid collector of bugs, reptiles, and other small animals, he made countless excursions into the southern Utah wilderness. During this time he corresponded often with a former BYU professor, Vasco M. Tanner; married his wife Florence Robinson in 1934; and through her association with Dixie art instructor Ralph Huntsman, began Dixie College's annual fine arts festival.

    Maurine Whipple was in the midst of writing her best-selling novel The Giant Joshua when she visited Dr. Beck at Dixie College. At this time, he was able to help her by providing much of the information about the flora and fauna thriving in the desert settings she described in her narratives. Later, he and his family became a source of encouragement for her during hard times in her life.

    Beck worked on research teams for many organizations throughout his lifetime including: the American Museum of Natural History, the Taiwan Provincial Malaria Research Institute, the Atomic Energy Commission, and the World Health Organization. Beck also worked on research teams aimed at studying the effects of over 100 atomic bomb detonations in the Nevada test area. Beck passed away in 1967 at the age of 61.

  • Scope and Contents

    Dr. Beck's daughter Janet Beck Clark, prior to her own death in 2012, donated original and photocopied correspondence, historical photographs, 3 small published booklets, colored slides, an original colored-pencil artwork by Ralph Huntsman, an onion skin copy of a short story by Maurine Whipple, and a biographical sketch with notes related to the life of her father. The time period represented ranges from 1930 to 1977. Photos of interest include Rattlesnake Pete (a small white rat that could kill snakes), the 3 oldest men alive at the time, and several Dixie College group and class photos. The original correspondence (1944-1977) is from Maurine Whipple to Dr. Beck and his wife Florence Beck. The photocopied correspondence (1930-1934) comprises letters Dr. Beck wrote to Vasco M. Tanner, his instructor and mentor at Brigham Young University. The collection also includes four volumes of surveys that are comprised of a published book, a color-photocopied book, and two typed originals. After each collecting expedition, Dr. Beck would develop his own photographs and attach them in spaces just the right size on typed pages that described his companions, travels, and collections.

  • Arrangement

    Collection is arranged chronologically within series.

  • Separated Materials

    While processing this collection the following items were separated and placed in other collections:

    Programme Alumni, 1935

    Russian Afternoon, 1935 November 20

    Dixie Reviewers, 1936-1937

    Orderville United Order Centennial Booklet, 1875 - 1975

    "My Story of Silver Reef" by Wilma C. Beal

    Orderville Heart of the United Order

    Dixie College Songs: published by the Student Body of the Dixie College

    Four volumes of biological survey books have been cataloged and included in the Special Collections book collection

    Photocopies dealing with the donation of Beck's collection to BYU were discarded

  • Preferred Citation

    Item description & date, 2007-01 D. Elden Beck papers, 1930-1977, Dixie State University Special Collections & Archives.

  • Conditions Governing Access

    Collection is open to researchers by appointment.

  • Conditions Governing Use

    Reproduction and use of the materials in this collection are subject to copyright law. Dixie State University Library Special Collections and Archives holds the copyright to unpublished material in the collection that is not in the public domain. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be obtained from the Special Collections Librarian and Archivist and a correct citation provided. A user may be asked to submit a "Request for one-time use of photocopies or reproductions" form in order to obtain reproductions.