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W. F. Thompson Memorial Library

NOAA Fisheries, Kodiak Laboratory


The NOAA Fisheries W.F. Thompson Memorial Library has a significant collection of books, journals, reports, and reprints on marine science and fisheries topics, as well as an extensive collection of U.S. Fish Commission Reports (dating back to 1871) and Bulletins (dating back to 1881).

The public is welcome to use the library and copy material, but all materials must remain in the library. Links to other libraries may be helpful in your search for information.


Photo of W. F. Thompson

The library is named after the late William Francis Thompson (1888 - 1965), a prominent fishery biologist and a major contributor to the modern theory of fishing that variations in abundance were the result of fishing pressure. His career spanned more than 50 years.

Dr. Thompson's work with commercial fisheries began in 1914 with studies of the British Columbia halibut fishery. In 1917 he moved to California to found the fish research program of the California Fish and Game Commission where he became director of the California State Fisheries Laboratory. In 1924, he was asked to organize and direct investigations of Pacific halibut for the International Fisheries Commission (later to become the International Pacific Halibut Commission). Based on Dr. Thompson's research, regulations were established to manage halibut at or near the level of maximum sustained yield.

Dr. Thompson became Director of the International Pacific Salmon Fisheries Commission in 1937 and began to study the sockeye salmon of the Fraser River. His studies resulted in the construction of the Hell's Gate fishways, which made possible the restoration of the sockeye salmon runs in the upper Fraser River. Dr. Thompson was the Director of the School of Fisheries at the University of Washington from 1943 to 1947. In 1947 he returned to research so he could organize and direct the UW Fisheries Research Institute, where he served as director until his retirement in 1958. After retirement at the age of 70, he continued work as a counselor and consultant until his death in 1965.

Dr. Thompson graduated from high school in Everett, Washington; attended the University of Washington for two years; and graduated from Stanford University in 1911. He received his doctorate at Stanford in 1930.

For more on the life and times of Dr. W.F. Thompson, see these great articles by J. Richard Dunn.



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