Carl Owen Dunbar
Search the Collections
Carl Owen Dunbar

Carl Owen Dunbar (b. 1891, d. 1979) was born in Hallowell, Kansas. His parents, David and Emma (Thomas), lived on a wheat farm in southeastern Kansas. As a youth, he operated the power machinery used to plant and harvest wheat and served as the foreman on the ranch that was established by his grandfather, Warder Dunbar. He attended Cherokee County schools and graduated with honors. He received a B.A. degree from the University of Kansas in 1913 and a Ph.D. in geology from Yale University in 1917, and after a brief stay at the University of Minnesota, he returned to Yale in 1920 where he served with distinction for 39 years.

As a professor, Dunbar was a productive scholar, dedicated teacher and effective administrator. He published more than 200 scientific articles and monographs in invertebrate paleontology (particularly on brachiopods and fusulinids) and stratigraphy. His dedication to undergraduate teaching led him to write 3 textbooks on historical geology, first as a co-author with his mentor Charles Schuchert, and then with Karl Waage, his successor at Yale. Dunbar also wrote 2 textbooks on stratigraphy with Yale professor John Rogers.

During his tenure at Yale Dunbar supervised nearly 25 graduate students, many of whom continued to collaborate with him in the years that followed. As an administrator, Dunbar was also Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology at the Yale Peabody Museum and the Director of the Museum from 1942 until his retirement.

Portrait of Carl O. Dunbar by Rudolph Zallinger.