Collection Data

Page Contents: Section | Significance | Background | Location & Dates | Taxonomic Contents | Documentation | Description of Collection | Collection Inventory | Collection Assets

Olga Hartman

Section Responsible for Processing



Born 17 May 1900 in Waterloo, Illinois. Died 5 Jan 1974 in Los Angeles, CA.
1926 A.B. University of Illinois
1933 M.A. University of California, Berkeley
1936 Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley, supervisor S.F. Light
1936-1940 Extensive travelling & collecting
Reviewed museum collections at Peabody Museum, Yale University, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, British Museum of Natural History, National Museum of Natural History, Washington D.C., American Museum of Natural History, New York; Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences, Naturhistoriska Riksmuseet, Stockholm. Collected in England, Sweden, North Carolina, Florida, Texas, and California. Spent several months working at Scripps.
1940 Research Associate Allan Hancock Foundation (AHF) at the recommendation of S.F. Light; became curator of marine annelids until formal retirement in 1969 but remained at the AHF until her death
1961 Associate Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, USC
1967 Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, USC
1967 University Researcher of the Year, USC
1969 Professor Emeritus, Department of Biological Sciences, USC


Hartman’s initial focus was on the California fauna but from the start of her career she maintained card files listing every publication on polychaetes & every species world-wide. Despite the expense she took a trunk containing these files when she travelled to Europe, the U.S. east coast, and marine labs so she could continue adding to them. The detailed knowledge she gained from this and her examination of types from the various museums laid the foundation for her major taxonomic revisions which spanned most polychaete families. Hartman’s cards were eventually published as a bibliography to world literature and catalogue of all published species. These further cemented her reputation as the leading authority in the field. Kristian Fauchald continued these files when he left the AHF for the Smithsonian. The latter were the basis of the WoRMS World Polychaete Database.

While at the AHF she had access to the material collected by the Velero beginning in the early 1930s, from the Galapagos through Oregon and in the Caribbean. These specimens were designated on labels by their station number. Hartman maintained a separate catalogue of non-Velero specimens. These were designated by the Greek letter eta preceding a sequential number. Anything she collected or that was sent to her for identification and deposition was included in her catalogue. As a recognized world expert in the field she was asked to study material taken by major & minor expeditions from all parts of the world. At the same time she accepted requests from students and non-professionals for identification help which she usually provided in return for retaining the specimens. A notable addition in the early 1940s was the polychaete collection owned by the Zoological Museum, University of California, Berkeley which contains type specimens of U.S. west coast species described by H.P. Johnson (1897, 1901) and A.L. Treadwell (1914). Large holdings of non-Velero material came from
Northern Mariana Islands: collected after atomic bomb tests
North Atlantic: Gayhead-Bermuda transect
Hawaiian Islands
Indian Ocean (India & South Africa): International Indian Ocean Expedition
Northern Europe
West Indies: Atlantis Expeditions, University & Havana & Harvard University
Antarctica: U.S. Navy Expedition 1947-48, USNS Eltanin and Staten Island cruises
Alaska: U.S. King Crab Fishery Expeditions & non-expedition material
California: State Water Quality Board surveys, harbor surveys, various biological surveys
Gulf of Mexico

Collection Location and Dates

The catalogue also includes specimens collected by or studied by her students Donald Reish and Kristian Fauchald.
Hartman’s personal collecting was mostly done in the 1930s and 1940s. The International Indian Ocean Expedition seems to have been the only major ship-based expedition in which she participated. Unfortunately, Hartman destroyed most of her field notes, correspondence, and other personal records before her death so not much is known about her activities outside of the AHF. Likewise, much of the collection information normally associated with specimens is unknown beyond the bare minimum of location and date.

Taxonomic Contents

Polychaete worms


Hartman, O. 1951. Literature of the Polychaetous Annelids. Los Angeles (privately printed). 290 pp.
Hartman, O. 1959. Catalogue of the polychaetous annelids of the world. Allan Hancock Foundation Foundation Publications, Occasional Paper No. 23: 1-353 (pt. 1), 354-628 (pt. 2)
Hartman, O. 1965. Catalogue of the polychaetous annelids of the world. Supplement and index (1960-1965). Allan Hancock Foundation Publications, Occasional Paper No. 23: 1-197
Johnson, Herbert P. 1897. A preliminary account of the marine annelids of the Pacific coast, with descriptions of new species. Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences, Ser. 3, 1(5): 153-19
Johnson, Herbert Parlin. (1901). The Polychaeta of the Puget Sound region. Proceedings of the Boston Society for Natural History. 29(18): 381-437, plates 1-19
Read, G.; Fauchald, K. (Ed.) (2012). World Polychaeta Database. Available online at
Treadwell, Aaron L. (1914). Polychaetous annelids of the Pacific Coast in the collections of the Zoological Museum of the University of California. University of California Publications in Zoology. 13(8): 175-234, plates 11-12.

Description of Collection

No information available.

Collection Inventory

No information available.

Collection Assets

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06/01/2023 Visit Olga Hartman station data

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