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Dorothy K. Palmer

1897 - 1947

MRS. DOROTHY KEMPER PALMER died in Havana, Cuba, June 16, 1947. Her name may well be added to those of Chas. F. Hartt, C. B. Adams, and Wm. Gabb, outstanding pioneers in South and Central American geology, paleontology, and natural history, for each of whom an early death prevented the fulfillment of his training, knowledge, and enterprise.

Mrs. Palmer had already established a reputation as "one of the foremost authorities on Cuban fossil forams." She had accumulated basic worldwide foraminiferal material and in conjunction with her husband, Dr. Robert H. Palmer, had built up a large and valuable Cuban fossil collection. Through the Palmers' geological and paleontological work in Cuba, as well as elsewhere in the Mexican-Caribbean and South American regions, and through Mrs. Palmer's employment as paleontologist with the Atlantic Refining Company from 1930-33, and from 1940 until her death, she had gained a wealth of firsthand information on the Foraminifera and the Cretaceous and Cenozoic stratigraphy of the mid-American area.

After her marriage, January 3, 1923, in San Antonio, Texas, accommodation to her husband's geological explorations meant frequent change. However, she delighted in the experiences in natural history which such travel brought, whether with bird, flower, star, or fossil. She was ever alert to learn, record, and assimilate new or pertinent data and enthusiastically persevered in trying to solve the faunal and stratigraphic problems of the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras of the Caribbean province. To this end, her published studies of 10 titles on Cuban Foraminifera and one on the Foraminifera from Bowden, Jamaica, form a foundation upon which future work may be based. She considered her work as a part solution for a happy life. That she was not a closet-scientist will be vouched for by her fellow-workers with whom she was always willing to share material, information, or ideas. She was honored by her protege and co-worker, Dr. Pedro J. Bermudez, in his dedication of the foraminiferal generic name Palmerinella, while she in turn showed respect to three major scientists in initiating the generic names, Vaughanina, Cushmanella, and Torreina.

Born in Chicago, Illinois, April 14, 1897, Mrs. Palmer received her secondary education in Los Angeles; entered the University of California in 1918 as one of the first three women majors in geology of that institution; was graduated in 1920 with honors in paleontology; in 1921-22, was assistant to the late Dr. Bruce L. Clark and worked with him on fossil Mollusca, receiving a M.A. in 1922. The results of their studies were published in 1923: her thesis on a dwarf fauna from the Eocene near Vacaville, California, and a joint paper on a revision of the important Eocene Rimella-like gastropods. Employment in 1924 by the Rio Bravo Oil Company in Houston marked the beginning of her studies of Foraminifera, for that was the initial period in America of development of techniques and investigation in the economic use of Foraminifera. In 1925-26, when her husband was obtaining his Ph.D. at Stanford University, Mrs. Palmer contributed articles to the first and third numbers of that enterprising mimeographed Micropaleontology Bulletin the experience in the writing of which helped train the pioneer group of micropaleontologists at Stanford.

In 1928 the Palmers were doing geological work in the State of Washington. Mrs. Palmer (1928-29) took graduate work, taught at the University of Washington, and spent time at the Puget Sound Marine Laboratory. During that period she collected and began the investigation of the Astoria Miocene Foraminifera, a work which was to have been published with C. C. Church but which was never completed. In the summer of 1929, foraminiferal study was continued under the guidance of T. Wayland Vaughan at Scripps Institute of Oceanography, and she published her first paper on a foraminifer (JOUR. PALEONTOLOGY, vol. 3. In the fall she went to Cuba, where her husband was doing geological work, and where the main portion of the remainder of her life was spent. The Palmers were highly respected and loved by the Cubans. A mutual cooperation is evidenced by the fact that all, except the first, of Mrs. Palmer's Cuban papers, of either her own or joint authorship, were published in the Memorias de la Sociedad Cubana de Historia Natural.

Mrs. Palmer's death is deeply felt by her friends and colleagues, and the science of paleontology has sustained an inestimable loss.

Katherine Van Winkle Palmer


  • and CLARK, B. L., 1923, Revision of the Rimella-like gastropods from the West Coast of North America: Univ. California Pub. Geol. Sci., vol. 14, No. 7, pp. 277-288, pl. 51.
  • 1923, A fauna from the middle Eocene shales near Vacaville, California: Univ. California Pub. Geol. Sci., vol. 14, No. 8, pp. 289-318, pls. 52-57.
  • 1926, Reviews of two recent articles on the Fusulinidae: Stanford Micropaleo. Bull., no. 1, art. V, pp. 9-12. (Mimeographed.)
  • and GARDESCU, IONEL, 1926, Translation of H. Douville's article: Are the Foraminifera always unicellular?": Stanford Micropaleo. Bull., no. 3, art. XIII, pp. 5-8. (Mimeographed)
  • 1929, A note on the occurrence of Patellina corrugata Williamson in the San Juan Archipelago, Washington: Jour. Paleontology, vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 306-307.
  • 1934, The Upper Cretaceous age of the orbitoidal genus Gallowayina Ellis: Jour. Paleontology, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 68-70.
  • 1934, The foraminiferal genus Gümbelina in the Tertiary of Cuba: Soc. Cubana Hist. Nat., Mem., vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 73-76, 8 figs.
  • 1934, The occurrence of fossil Radiolaria in Cuba: Soc. Cubana Hist. Nat., Mem., vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 77-82, 1 fig.
  • 1934, Some large fossil Foraminifera from Cuba: Soc. Cubana Hist. Nat. Mem., vol. 8, no. 4, pp. 235-264, 19 figs., 5 pls.
  • and BERMUDEZ, P. J., 1936, Late Tertiary Foraminifera from the Matanzas Bay region, Cuba: Soc. Cubana Hist. Nat., Mem., vol. 9, no. 4, pp. 237-258, 3 pls.
  • 1936, New genera and species of Cuban Oligocene Foraminifera: Soc. Cubana Hist. Nat., Mem., vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 123-128, 1 pl., 3 figs. and BERMUDEZ, P. J., 1936, An Oligocene fora- miniferal fauna from Cuba: Soc. Cubana Hist. Nat., Mem., vol. 10, no. 4, pp. 227-271, 8 pls.; no. 5, pp. 273-316.
  • 1938, Cuban Foraminifera of the family Valvulinidae. Soc. Cubana Hist. Nat., Mem., vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 281-301, 5 pls.
  • 1938, Planulina alavensis, a new Cuban Oligocene foraminifer: Soc. Cubana Hist. Nat., Mem., vol. 12, no. 5, pp. 345-346, 3 figs.
  • 1940-41, Foraminifera of the upper Oligocene Cojimar formation of Cuba: Soc. Cubana Hist. Nat., Mem., vol. 14, no. 1, Pt. 1, pp. 19-35; Pt. 2, op. cit., no. 2, pp. 113-132, 2 pls.; Pt. 3, op. cit., no. 4, pp. 277-304, 3 pls.; Pt. 4, op. cit., vol. 15, no. 2, pp. 181-200, 3 pls.; Pt. 5, op. cit., no. 3, pp. 281-306, 4 pls. (1941).
  • 1945, Notes on the Foraminifera from Bowden, Jamaica: Bull. Am. Paleontology, vol. 29, no. 115, pp. 1-82, 2 pls. 519

Reproduced From: Journal of Paleontology, Vol. 22, No. 4 (1948), pp. 518-519.











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