Margaret K. Robinson Papers, 1908-1983 (SMC 90)

Restrictions: Original audiovisual recordings are restricted. Listening/viewing copies may be available for researchers.

Extent: 2 Linear feet (4 archives boxes and 2 shoeboxes)

Digital Content

A small selection of materials from the collection have been digitized, or are available in only digital format. They are linked in the container list.

The Margaret K. Robinson papers contain a selection of material accumulated during her time at Scripps Institution of Oceanography as a researcher and head of the Bathythermograph Unit. The majority of the collection consists of research data, draft writings, and talks given at various oceanographic and scientific conferences between the mid-1950s and the early 1970s.

Margaret King Robinson (1906-2006) was born in Provo, Utah, February 23, 1906. She was the youngest of the four children of Samuel Andrew King, an attorney, and Maynetta Bagley King. She was raised in Salt Lake City.

Robinson received a B.A. with honors from the University of Utah in 1928, where she majored in French and German. She advanced her language studies with summer classes at the University of California, Berkeley in 1926, 1927, and 1929. She attended Business College in Casper, Wyoming in 1930 to study stenography, was certified in drafting by the University of California War Training in 1944, and took courses in education at San Diego State College in 1946. She began taking classes at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in February 1947 and received a M.S. degree from UCLA based on her graduate work at Scripps in 1951.

Robinson moved from Salt Lake City to La Jolla, California in 1943 and worked as a tool designer at Consolidated-Vultee Aircraft Company until the war ended. She taught junior high school in Pacific Beach for a year. She joined the staff of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 1946 as a clerk in the Bathythermograph Unit. Robinson advanced to laboratory technician in 1947 and senior engineering aid in 1949. She became an assistant oceanographer in 1952 and held that rank for a decade. She was ranked as Associate Specialist Oceanographer in 1962 and advanced to specialist in 1969. She headed the Bathythermograph Unit beginning in February 1957. The work of the unit was supported by grants from the Office of Naval Research until 1961. Robinson also received large grants from the U.S. Naval Oceanographic Office for the digitization of BT observations. In 1960, Robinson began receiving grant support from the National Science Foundation, which continued until 1974. She retired from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography on October 1, 1973.

Robinson was expert in processing, analyzing and archiving bathythermograph data. She was a pioneer in the use of computers to analyze world-wide oceanographic data. She lectured widely on bathythermograph data, and traveled throughout the world to scientific meetings.

Robinson married James P. McCeney in 1932 and lived in Washington, D.C.; they divorced in 1937. She married Arthur Goodwin Robinson May 24, 1937. He died in 1966. She had two children: a daughter, Renan Suhl, and a son, Dr. Creighton H. Robinson.

Robinson served as a consultant to industry and scientific organizations. She was a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union, the Arctic Institute of America, Phi Kappa Phi, and many other organizations. UNESCO appointed her technical expert in the hydrographic department of the Thai Royal Navy 1962-1963 where she advised the government of Thailand on oceanography, just after the Scripps Institution of Oceanography Naga Expedition (1959-1961) which explored the Gulf of Thailand.

This Biographical Note has been adapted from an essay by Deborah Day, SIO Archivist, 2002.

The Margaret K. Robinson papers contain a selection of material accumulated during her time at Scripps Institution of Oceanography as a researcher and head of the Bathythermograph Unit. The majority of the collection consists of research data, draft writings, and talks given at various oceanographic and scientific conferences between the mid-1950s and the early 1970s. Robinson performed data analysis from the Downwind Expedition (1957-1958) and the Naga Expedition (1959-1961), and some of that work is reflected here. Robinson published several volumes of atlases documenting sea temperatures using bathythermographic data, and early rough versions of the atlases are in the collection. The collection contains very little correspondence or other material that sheds a more personal light on Robinson's career in science, though there are a few folders of notes she created as a student, and some early data records on ocean temperature and salinity that were entrusted to her office.

Arranged in four series: 1) BIOGRAPHICAL, 2) COURSE NOTES, 3) RESEARCH, WRITING & TALKS, and 4) FILMS.

Container List


Box 1 Folder 1-4
Bio-bibliography forms, 1953-1970, 1983
Box 1 Folder 5
Photographs and news articles, 1959-1964

Includes prints of Amnuay Srivirojna of the Royal Thai Navy, with the SIO Bathythermograph Unit.


Box 1 Folder 6
Biology, ca. 1948
Box 1 Folder 7
Marine sedimentation (Submarine Geology 218B), 1948-1949
Box 1 Folder 8
Waves (Course 211), ca. 1947


Box 5
Glass lantern slides used to illustrate lectures
Box 6
Glass lantern slides used to illustrate lectures
Box 1 Folder 9
Colonel Ottensen - Tide reduction scheme notes, undated
Box 1 Folder 10
Comparison of computed bathythermograph corrections determined by readings from two different types of grid holders, undated
Box 1 Folder 11
Comparison of M. Koizumi and M. K. Robinson computations of seasonal variation of mean sea surface temperature in the East China Sea, undated
Box 1 Folder 12
Evaluation of three sets of historical sea-surface temperature data in the North Pacific Ocean, undated
Box 2 Folder 1
Mechanical bathythermograph digitizer operation, undated
Box 2 Folder 2
Narrative to accompany 1959-1961 Naga Expedition film, undated
Box 2 Folder 3
Red sea atlas - Unbound copy with original plates and figures, undated
Box 2 Folder 4
"Processing and analyzing oceanographic data in the Gulf of Thailand and Indian Ocean," UNESCO project 2523 report, undated
Box 2 Folder 5
Use of a common reference period for evaluating climatic conference in temperature and salinity records from Alaska to California, undated
Box 2 Folder 6
Temperature and salinity data, (off San Diego and Coronado Islands), 1908, 1911, 1912, 1908-1916
Box 2 Folder 7-8
Coronado Island region temperature - Depth and time, ca. 1908-1916
Box 2 Folder 9
Stations 1 and 2, interpolations and smoothing, 1921,1925
Box 2 Folder 10-15
Stations 1 and 2, tabulated original values, temperature & salinity, La Jolla Bay, 1921-1931

Includes data by D. Norton.

Box 2 Folder 16
Section and data of Monterey Bay, 1937, 1941
Box 2 Folder 17
Analysis and interpretation of bathythermograms from the Antarctic development project, 1947-1948 (ONR NR-083-005 Technical Report #2), 1950 June 16
Box 2 Folder 18
Surface water temperatures at tide stations, Pacific coast - Robinson's annotated copy, 1956
Box 3 Folder 1-2
ONR BT excerpts (BT processing and analysis and data archives), 1956-1962
Box 3 Folder 3
Downwind Expedition "Bathythermograph temperature sections for the IGY, Downwind Expedition" rough drafts, 1957-1958
Box 3 Folder 4-6
Bathythermograph temperature sections from the IGY Downwind Expedition to the Southeast Pacific, 1957-1958
Box 3 Folder 7-10
Downwind Expedition - Data, figures and notes, 1957-1958
Box 3 Folder 11
Kuroshio current stream-axis sketches, 1960-1964
Box 3 Folder 12
Box 3 Folder 13
Naga Expedition prints and visualizations, set no. 1, 1960
Box 3 Folder 14
Mean sea temperature interpretation by IBM computer. Presented at AGU, Los Angeles, 1960 August
Box 3 Folder 15
Bathythermograph temperature sections from the IGY, UC SIO Expedition Downwind. Presented at Pacific Science Congress, 1961 August
Box 4 Folder 1
Interpretation of bathythermograph temperature data in the Gulf of Thailand. Presented at AGU, 1962 April
Box 4 Folder 2
Joint report of the Planning meeting in Physical Oceanography of the Pacific Ocean, U.S.-Japan Cooperative Science Program, 1964
Box 4 Folder 3
Pier observations - MKR upwelling, 1964
Box 4 Folder 4
The existence of a secondary sound channel along the northern edge of the subtropical region in North Pacific. Navy symposium on underwater acoustics, Austin, Texas, 1964 October 26-28
Box 4 Folder 5
Temperature structure in the transition region of the North Pacific. U.S. Navy Symposium on Military Oceanography, Washington, D.C., 1965 May 5-7
Box 4 Folder 6
Harmonic analysis of mean temperatures at standard levels in the CalCOFI area. CalCOFI conference, La Jolla, California, 1965 December 19-21
Box 4 Folder 7
Secondary sound channel - Pacific FLIP HORIZON, 1966 February 3
Box 4 Folder 8
Thermal microstructure in the NE Pacific Ocean observed from FLIP in September 1963. Presented at AGU annual meeting, San Jose, California, 1966 February 3
Box 4 Folder 9
Summary of computer- analyzed temperature data for Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. U.S. Navy Symposium on Military Oceanography, San Diego, 1966 May 11-13
Box 4 Folder 10
Seasonal variation of temperature in the upper 100 meters of the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal, and the Red Sea. Presented at 2nd Oceanographic Congress, Moscow, Russia, 1966 June 13
Box 4 Folder 11
Comparison of seasonal variation in temperatures in the Kuroshio and Gulf Stream systems. Presented in Tokyo, Japan, 1966 August 20-September 3
Box 4 Folder 12
Atlantic edge values and comments by Elizabeth Schroeder, 1968
Box 4 Folder 13
Bathythermograph (BT) data confirms theoretical prediction of subtropical countercurrent. Presented at AGU, San Francisco, 1968 December 2-5
Box 4 Folder 14
Evidence of subtropical countercurrent east of Hawaii. Presented at AGU, San Francisco, 1970 December 8
Box 4 Folder 15-17
Atlas of monthly mean sea surface and subsurface temperature, depth of the top of the thermocline, North Pacific, 1971-1977
Box 4 Folder 18
Graphical methods of presenting time varying ocean temperature. Presented at 6th International Cartographic Association Conference, Ottawa, 1972 August 23
Box 4 Folder 19
Atlas of monthly sea surface and subsurface temperature and depth of the top of the thermocline, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea, 1973 March
Box 4 Folder 20
Atlas of monthly sea surface and subsurface temperature and depth of the top of the thermocline: Mediterranean, Black and Red Seas, 1973 June


Box FS-189

1 film reel (8 min.) ; sound, color ; 16mm

Box FS-180
NAGA Expedition, Gulf of Thailand and South China Sea, ca. 1963

1 film reel (duration unknown) ; silent, color ; 16mm