Paul B. Sears, perhaps more than any other person, epitomized American plant ecology. In a professional career spanning almost 7 decades, he made major contributions to vegetation mapping, paleoecology and Pleistocene history, vegetation studies, conservation, human ecology and our use of land; and particularly, the varied roles of scientists in modern society. He was one of the most respected and honored ecologists in North America. He died in the medical center at Plaza de Retiro on April 30, 1990.
Paul Bigelow Sears studied at the University of Chicago earning his Ph.D. in botany in 1922. He served in the United States Army from 1917-1918. Sears taught at various institutions including Ohio State University, University of Nebraska, University of Oklahoma and Yale University. He also served as a botanist for the State Biological Survey of Oklahoma. His books from these years presented issues in the study of ecology to the public. Sears also produced ecology study guides and textbooks for science teachers and their students. Sears was active in local conservation groups and societies. He was instrumental in the founding of Friends of the Land in Ohio. He worked to create an Ohio Department of Natural Resources. In 1950 Sears was named professor of conservation and chairman of the Conservation Program at Yale University. The Conservation Program at Yale was the country's first graduate program in the conservation of natural resources. In 1960 Sears retired from Yale and was named professor emeritus.
The collection consists of correspondence, manuscripts, grant proposals, reports, photographs, subject files, field notes, pollen samples and data relating to desert ecology which document Paul Sear's career as a botanist, ecologist and educator. The bulk of the collection is comprised of correspondence between Sears and other researchers. The collection also includes research reports and manuscripts written by Sears and other researchers; activity files of various meetings and conferences attended by Sears and field notes of peat and pollen data collected and analyzed in different states, Mexico and Canada.