The halls of science whisper untold stories. Whose stories get told, and in what way, is often a function of the storytellers' privilege. Today, we're speaking up to share these stories—and amplify Academy voices that have been marginalized for too long.

In 2021 in the wake of the George Floyd murder and the ensuing racial reckoning in the United States, the Library created a project to highlight contributions of Academy staff and scientists whose contributions may have been overlooked due to their identity. The history of science is often filled with the accomplishments of White male scientists, and by telling these stories we want to create a fuller and truer picture of our history. Academy Library Staff and Careers in Science high school interns created profiles using archival materials to shed light on these stories.

To tell the whole story, we also had to set the context about the Academy’s own colonial history, which would explain why so few people from underrepresented groups were allowed into the field of science. These individuals faced barriers to make their way at the Academy, but they also had their own biases and at times racist views, and we felt it necessary to tell their story in its entirety.

You can meet the first cohort of students and Library staff from 2021, and hear their reflections on working this project and the people they profiled.

Black and white photo of Academy scientist Toshio Asaeda with tortoise specimen

Asaeda was an artist, photographer, and exhibits specialist. 

Black and white portrait of Luis Felipe Baptista

Baptista was an ornithologist who used bird calls to pinpoint species to the San Francisco neighborhoods where they lived.

portrait of Nina Floy Perry Bracelin

Bracelin was a botanist who worked at the Academy, UC Berkeley, and the US Department of Agriculture.

Black and white photo of M. Katherine Brandegee with guinea fowl

Brandegee was a botanist and the first female curator at the Academy.

Gordan Chan diving with underwater camera

Chan was a beloved teacher and protector of local Bay Area marine ecosystems. 

Detail from Harriet Exline Frizzell painting

Frizzell was an arachnologist who brought order to the spider tree of life—albeit as an unpaid researcher.

A. Myra Keen holding two shells

Keen was a malacologist and invertebrate paleontologist, and the first women to teach in the Earth Sciences department at Stanford.

Sara Allen Plummer Lemmon

Lemmon was a Botanist, one of the first women members of the Academy, and helped name the state flower.

Elizabeth McClintock portrait

McClintock was an Academy Botany Curator, who helped build the collections and worked on the conservation of plants in San Francisco.

Black and white photo of Ynes Mexia on skis

Mexia was a Mexican-American botanist with an adventurous spirit. 

Black and white photo of Pearl Sonoda in the collections

Sonoda was an ichthyologist who survived a Japanese internment camp during World War II. 

About the Library

Founded in 1853, the Academy Library is a research library devoted to natural history and the natural sciences. Explore our extensive collections, including rare books, serials, maps, and photography.

Contact the Library

Academy Library and Archives
California Academy of Sciences
55 Music Concourse Drive
San Francisco, CA 94118