University of Arizona

Paul S. Martin Papers

Paul Schultz Martin, a Pennsylvania native,earned a Ph.D. in Zoology in 1956 from University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. His early career aspiration to focus on collecting and studying plant and fossil specimens from tropical rainforests was cut short when he contracted polio at age 23 while in Mexico. He conducted postdoctoral research in Biogeography at Yale University from 1955-1956 and then at Université de Montreal from 1956-1957. In 1957, he moved to Tucson to accept a position as a Research Associate with University of Arizona’s Geochronology Laboratories. He held the position of Professor in the Department of Geosciences from 1968 until 1989 when he was named Emeritus Professor. He remained an active researcher and vital part of the Tumamoc Hill Desert Laboratory for more than 50 years.

Dr. Martin is well-known as a primary developer and leading expert on the subject of prehistoric overkill, a pattern of global extinction over the last 40,000 years which coincided with human colonization spreading out of Africa and Asia. His theories have been the subject of much debate since the 1960’s and have helped rejuvenate interest in the study of prehistoric extinctions. His fossil research led him to develop extinction models based on human activity as the main cause of the rapid extinctions of large animals such as the mammoth, mastodon and giant ground sloth. In addition, Dr. Martin conducted research about Pleistocene biotic changes in arid regions. 

Dr. Martin is the author of numerous books and articles, including The Last 10,000 Years: A Fossil Pollen Study of the American Southwest, Pleistocene Extinctions: The Search for a Cause, and Twilight of the Mammoths. His research gave him a unique, long range perspective on the mechanisms and impact of species extinction and environmental destruction. His dedication to ecological and social issues is reflected in his involvement with various efforts to protect endangered flora and fauna of the Southwest from potential human destruction.

This collection contains correspondence, research files, publication files, newspaper clippings and scrapbooks. The numerous boxes of correspondence files contain letters both written and received by Dr. Martin during of his professional career (principally covers the years 1975-1990). This material includes correspondence with various scientists, researchers, publishers, students and others. It includes research files consisting of varied material gathered in the course of scientific and professional research. Also contains copies of Dr. Martin’s National Science Foundation grant proposals, data on Southwestern fauna, efforts to stop the controversial construction of a telescope on Mount Graham, as well as other articles and newspaper clippings about varied topics.

The collection also includes records detailing data collected by Dr. Martin after the spraying of Agent Orange on the town of Globe, Arizona in 1969. The publication files contain copies of articles written by Dr. Martin over the course of his career, spanning from 1951-2006. The publication files also contain copies of reviews of Dr. Martin’s published works from various sources. The next series compiles newspaper clippings written about Dr. Paul S. Martin and his research during the years 1959-2000. The following series focuses on the Tumamoc Hill Desert Laboratory. Materials about flora and fauna of Tumamoc Hill are also present. Articles and photographs describing the history of Tumamoc Hill Desert Lab form another part of this series. Lastly, the various threats to the lab and its continued operation from the 1960’s through the early 2000’s are detailed through collected newspaper clippings. The final series of the collection consists of nine scrapbooks of newspaper clippings collected by Dr. Martin from 1951-1970 which detail political, social and ecological issues of the times