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.

Throughout the history of science, groups of people who have been marginalized for their identities often do not get credit for their work or are relegated to a footnote—and the California Academy of Sciences, one of the oldest scientific institutions in the West, is no exception to this exclusionary trend.

It is our duty to tell the stories of our staff and affiliates that have yet to be told in order to reveal a fuller and truer picture of the history of our institution, which reflects the history of science as a whole. Academy archivists, including a graduate student, undergraduate students, and Careers in Science high school interns, profiled staff from the past using archival materials from the Academy Library to shed light on stories that have not been told in their entirety until now.

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Black and white photo of Pearl Sonoda in the collections

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

Black and white photo of Ynes Mexia on skis

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

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.

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

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

Detail from Harriet Exline Frizzell painting

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

Gordan Chan diving with underwater camera

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

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.