Franklin C. and Joanne Currier Daiber papers

Biographical and Historical Notes

Professor emeritus of marine studies Franklin C. Daiber (1919-2003) and his wife Joanne Currier Daiber (1927-2007) were two of the first marine scientists hired by the University of Delaware in the 1950s.

In 1951, the University of Delaware biology department established a marine lab in Lewes, Delaware, to address growing concern over the decline in the state's fish populations. Joanne Currier was the first woman marine scientist hired by the University of Delaware to participate in the program's first funded research project to sample and analyze plankton populations of the Delaware estuary. She earned her B.A. in biology from Bates College in 1949, where she completed her senior thesis on a disorder found in the shells of lobsters. She received a master's degree in biology from Vassar College in 1951.

Dr. Franklin C. Daiber joined the University of Delaware in 1952 as the first faculty member to teach marine science and played a significant role in establishing the College of Marine Studies (now the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment), creating a program in icthyology and fisheries with an emphasis on graduate studies. Dr. Daiber retired from the University of Delaware in 1987; the Franklin C. Daiber Residence Complex in Lewes was named in his honor. In 2000, Dr. Daiber established a fellowship at the University of Delaware in recognition of his wife's pioneering work in marine studies: the Joanne Currier Daiber Fellowship is awarded to a woman graduate student in the Marine Biology-Biochemistry Program. In addition, the university's College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment named the coastal research vessel R/V Joanne Daiber "in honor of the devotion Mrs. Daiber had for the University of Delaware marine program and the professional sacrifices she made in her early career."

Dr. and Mrs. Daiber published a two-volume memoir of the early days of the marine studies program in Lewes and their work and life together in Lewes and Newark titled Salty Memoirs: Adventures in Marine Science (2000). The publication was designed by their son Steven Daiber, proprietor of the Red Trillium Press.


University of Delaware College of Earth, Ocean, & Environment. "R/V Joanne Daiber." Accessed January 15, 2015.

"In Memoriam Franklin C. Daiber." UDaily. Accessed January 15, 2015.

"Obituaries." Bates Magazine. Accessed January 15, 2015.

Additional biographical information derived from collection.

Scope and Contents

The Franklin C. and Joanne Currier Daiber papers include correspondence, photographs, negatives, artwork, and publications documenting their personal relationships and professional research and scholarship as marine scientists at the University of Delaware in the mid-twentieth century.

The collection is arranged into six series: I. Correspondence; II. Franklin C. Daiber; III. Joanne Currier Daiber; IV. Artwork; V. Publications; and VI. Photographs, negatives, and slides.

Series I. Correspondence, consists of letters and postcards Joanne Currier and Franklin Daiber sent to one another during their courtship and early marriage. The correspondence in the collection primarily includes letters prior to their marriage in 1953; the exchanges reflect their warm relationship and provide insight into Joanne Daiber's scholarship as a marine scientist and the growth of the Marine Studies program at the University of Delaware. Later correspondence reflects Franklin Daiber's participation in the Smithsonian-Bredin Yucatan Expedition of 1960, where he worked under the guidance of Waldo LaSalle Schmitt (1887-1977). The researchers traveled along the Mexican peninsula in the Blue Goose, collecting zoological specimens and fossils for research. Other correspondence in the series includes wedding cards and greeting cards sent to the couple from family and friends, as well as letters they wrote to their young sons, Steven and Gregory from 1973-1978.

Series II. Franklin C. Daiber, comprises materials related to the researcher's professional life, arranged chronologically, including his 1950 doctoral dissertation, articles and clippings about his work in the Marine Studies program, and various awards and appointments he received in his later career. Travel diaries which document Daiber's field studies of tidal marshes in various parts of Canada, Europe, and South America are also included in the series and are arranged chronologically.

Series III. Joanne Currier Daiber, documents aspects of the marine scientist's personal and professional life from 1949-1962. Personal items include a small amount of Daiber's bridal accessories for the couple's 1953 wedding. Professional materials in the series are arranged chronologically and reflect Daiber's scholarly work as a marine biologist and includes a draft of her master's thesis titled, "The Relation of the Growth of Oysters to Different Ecological Conditions in Rand's Harbor," along with her field- and research notes. The series also includes her article, "Quantitative Seasonal Aspects of Zooplankton in the Delaware River Estuary," originally published in the journal Chesapeake Science.

Series IV. Artwork, consists of two watercolor paintings by Helena MacIntyre of "Bayside Lab," one of the first research laboratories established in Lewes, Delaware. The series also includes a print of "Roosevelt Inlet, Lewes," where the lab was located.

Series V. Publications and programs, comprises printed materials that relate to the establishment and activities of the Marine Studies program at the University of Delaware. The materials include laboratory reports, newspaper clippings, and bulletins including Delaware Conservationist and a complete run (1955-1963) of the Estuarine Bulletin, an early quarterly publication of the University of Delaware Department of Biological Sciences Marine Laboratories. The series also includes the scientific publications of Gary Schmelz, Ph.D., a marine biologist, paleontologist, and former associate of Franklin Daiber. Materials are arranged chronologically.

Series V. Photographs, negatives, and slides, comprises images taken by Franklin and Joanne Daiber documenting the activities of the couple and their involvement with the university's marine labs in southern Delaware. The series contains images of the first marine biology laboratory at Bunting's Landing in Lewes, Delaware as well as the Bayside Laboratory (also in Lewes). Images of the institution's first three research vessels: Arcartia, Wolverine, and Skimmer are included, as well as images of Joanne Daiber and others at work oyster scraping and plankton hauling and/or at work in the lab. Additional photos include those of the Daiber family vacationing in Lewes, and also those of various high school science day camps and fossil collecting trips sponsored by the Marine Studies program. The series also contains over 100 research slides taken by Franklin Daiber, largely of tidal marshes and wetlands, but also of landscapes, botanical specimens, fossils, flora, and other natural phenomena. The slides are arranged chronologically and were shot largely in Delaware in locations such as Lewes, Cape Henlopen, Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, and Blackwater Tidal Marsh. Other locations include marshes and wetlands in New Jersey, Maine, Massachusetts, South Carolina, and Georgia as well as locations abroad such as Nova Scotia and Norway.