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TrevorKincaid was Professor of Zoology at the University of Washington from 1901-1947. Although primarily involved with entomological efforts, he became interested in oysters in 1911, previously having founded the Marine Station at Friday Harbor in 1905. In 1908 Kincaid, as Special Agent for the US Department of Agriculture, traveled to Japan and Russia to study the gypsy moth and its parasites. Other expeditions Kincaid participated in include the Harriman Expedition of 1899 and one to the Pribolof Islands for the US Fur Seal Commission in 1897.
During his more than fifty years at the University of Washington as a student and professor, TrevorKincaid’s work with insects and oysters made him one of the best known naturalists in the region and across the country. Kincaid discovered and named hundreds of species, but most of his fame came from his solutions to economic problems, such as getting rid of harmful pests and revitalizing the state’s oyster industry. While the first part of his career dealt mostly with insects and taxonomy, Kincaid later became known as the “father of the Northwest oyster industry” because he was one of the few serious scientists studying oysters and was largely responsible for bringing the Japanese oyster to Washington.
Kincaid was born in 1872 in Peterborough, Ontario, where he lived until his family moved to Olympia, Washington, in 1889. As a young boy he constantly showed an interest in studying and collecting insects and animals, which continued throughout his lifetime. Before entering college, Kincaid had already discovered and named various insect species.
Kincaid enrolled at University of Washington in 1894 with almost no money. At the University, he continued discovering species, and before earning his bachelors degree he had attracted attention from scientists across the country. In 1897 he accompanied Stanford University president David Starr Jordan on the American Fur Seal Commission to study the fur seal situation in the Pribolof Islands. Kincaid worked as a research assistant and had his salary doubled when his professors became aware that Stanford was trying to entice the promising young student to transfer. When it was time for Kincaid to graduate, he missed the ceremony because he was chosen as one of only sixty American scientists to go on the Harriman Alaska Expedition. Accompanying noted naturalists such as John Muir and John Burroughs, Kincaid was the youngest person on this expedition and the only entomologist. On the journey he discovered and named over 240 insect species.
In 1901, Kincaid received his Masters degree from the University of Washington and immediately was hired as a professor. In 1902 the biology department was divided and Kincaid became the first chairman of the Department of Zoology. In 1904, along with botany professor R.C. Frye, Kincaid founded the University of Washington Marine Station at Friday Harbor. He also taught the first classes in ichthyology, which helped lead to the creation of the Fisheries College in 1919. Throughout his career, Kincaid realized how expensive it would be to print his papers commercially, so he bought a manual press and worked as his own publisher, editor, photographer, and typesetter.
Kincaid’s studies took him outside the Pacific Northwest on many occasions. He spent 1905 and 1906 as an Austin Scholar at Harvard and studied marine biology on a trip to the West Indies and Bermuda islands during the summer. In 1908, the US government sent Kincaid abroad to discover a natural parasite to destroy the gypsy moth that was ruining crops in New England. Kincaid went first to Russia, then to Japan in 1909, where he discovered a parasite which the Department of Agriculture continued to breed and use successfully for many years.
In the early 1910s, Kincaid began turning his attention to Washington’s troubled oyster industry. At the time, intensive exploitation had nearly eliminated the native oyster industry, and attempts to cultivate East Coast oysters were futile. Kincaid recalled observations of the Japanese oyster culture from previous journeys, and developed methods for importing Japanese oyster seed. Soon Kincaid was employed by the state Department of Fisheries in the Olympia district and later he was put in charge of one of their labs on Willapa Bay.
One of the oystermen, Gerard Mogan, hired Kincaid and gave him an interest in an oyster venture at Willapa Bay, the Bay Point Oyster Company, that became very profitable. As a reward for his service, Mogan gave Kincaid a tract of oyster land which he also made profitable for himself. Most of these private ventures took place during the 1930s and 1940s, but then in the 1950s he entered a new venture with a group of Willapa Bay growers to start the Claire Oyster Company, which was an all-weather, artificially heated indoor swimming pool for baby oysters. His plan was to breed oysters here to make it unnecessary to import seed oysters from Japan. This was based on the French method of oyster culture known as “claire.”
Kincaid remained chairman of the department of Zoology until his automatic retirement in 1937, then continued teaching and researching as a professor emeritus until his full retirement in 1942. After retirement, Kincaid remained active pursuing his interest in studying various species and wrote his autobiography, “The Adventures of an Omnologist.” He died in 1968.
Biographical note written by Jeff Blume, 1997.
Most of the photographs in the collection relate to Kincaid's research into the oyster industry of the East Coast, West Coast and Japan; oyster diseases and parasites; Friday Harbor Laboratory operations; various trips to Russia, Japan, Bermuda and the San Juan Islands; and classes in Zoology and Limnology. Included with the photographs are some of own personal notes.
Restrictions may exist on reproduction, quotation, or publication. Contact Special Collections, University of Washington Libraries for details.
|1/1||Oyster Industry I. Willapa Bay oysters.|
|1/2||Oyster Industry III. Japanese seed, cultching operations.|
|1/3||Oyster Industry IV. Olympia district.|
|1/4||Oyster Industry V. Enemies, parasites, etc.|
|1/5||Oyster Industry VI. Plants and equipment.|
|1/6||Oyster Industry VII. Artificial propagation, misc.|
|1/7||Flora of Willapa Bay. Volume I.|
|1/8||Flora of Willapa Bay. Volume II.|
|1/9||Flora of Willapa Bay. Volume III.|
|2/1||Oyster Industry of the Olympic District. Equipment and operations.|
|2/2||Oyster Industry of the Olympic District.|
|2/3||Oyster Industry of the Olympic District. The Olympic oyster.|
|2/4||Oyster Industry of Willapa Harbor.|
|2/5||Oyster Industry of Japan.|
|2/6||Oyster Industry of the East Coast.|
|2/7||Oyster Industry of Samish Bay.|
|2/8||European Oyster Industry.|
|2/9||Oyster Industry of the Shelton District.|
|2/10||Development of the Native Oyster.|
|2/11||Anatomy of the Oyster|
|2/12||Enemies of the Oyster.|
|3/1||Personnel. Oyster industry.|
|3/2||Oysters. Plants, industrial operations.|
|3/3||Oyster Seed Operations.|
|3/4||Oysters. Japanese seed.|
|3/5||Oysters. Cultching operations.|
|3/6||Oysters. Spat, etc.|
|3/7||Oysters. Enemies, diseases.|
|3/8||Mollusca. Introduced from Japan with imported oyster seed.|
|3/9||Thais Lamellosa. Local races. Volume III. San Juan Islands.|
|4/1||Oysters. Field operations.|
|4/2||Oysters. Life history.|
|4/3||Oysters. Artificial reproduction.|
|4/4||Olympia and native oysters.|
|4/5||Eastern Oyster in Willapa Bay.|
|4/8||Oyster pictures from Cobb.|
|5/2||Zoology, limnology. (Student photographs)|
|5/3||Classes in Zoology. (Student photographs)|
|5/4||Trip to the Bermuda Islands. 1905.|
|5/5||Gypsy Moth Investigation. Japan, 1908.|
|5/6||Trip to Japan. 1908.|
|6/1||Trip to Russia. 1904. (Some photographs of Turkey)|
|6/2||Friday Harbor, Biological Laboratory. Field operations.|
|6/3||Friday Harbor, Biological Laboratory. Personnel.|
|6/4||San Juan Islands. Scenery, misc.|
|6/5||San Juan Islands. Scenery, misc.|
|6/6||Willapa Bay. Raised Beach. Retreating shoreline.|
|6/7||Willapa Bay. Raised beach. Shore erosion.|
|6/8||TrevorKincaid Portraits and Family Photographs|