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Pat Young (right) and graduate student Valerie Marlowe are working with materials from the collection of the late disaster science researcher T. Joseph Scanlon, now housed at UD.
T. Joseph Scanlon, a veteran journalist
and respected journalism professor in Canada who became equally
distinguished as a scholar in the sociology of disasters, had a longtime
relationship with the University of Delawares Disaster Research Center (DRC).
The professor emeritus at Carleton University in Ottawa died in May,
but his UD connection will continue, with his papers now housed in the
DRCs E.L. Quarantelli Resource Collection.
The collection, a repository of some 70,000 items, is internationally
known like DRC itself as a leading resource in the social and
behavioral science aspect of disasters.
Our collection is widely considered the premier collection of its
focus in the world, and its heavily used by researchers, said Pat
Young, resource collection coordinator. I get emails daily from around
the world asking for information, and we typically have 10-20 visiting
scholars a year making use of the collection.
Prof. Scanlons children offered his papers to DRC, and 69 boxes have
since arrived in Delaware, representing his prolific research and
The T. Joseph Scanlon Collection, described as vast and
significant, is being processed and preserved by Young, who will
incorporate the papers, reports, data sets, photos, books and other
materials into the resource centers other holdings. Materials are not
loaned outside DRC but are made available to any visiting researchers or
Young called the Scanlon Collection amazing.
I dont think Joes importance to the field can be overstated, she
said. And now, to be able to provide this wonderful resource to future
researchers is incredibly important and the best way I can think of to
honor his memory and his legacy.
Prof. Scanlon typically visited DRC at least a few times a year and
had close collaborations and friendships with its researchers,
stretching back to the early days of the research center, which was
founded in 1963 at Ohio State University and moved to UD in 1985.
He participated in its 40-year and 50-year celebrations and
conferences. At the 40th anniversary event, he presented a paper about
DRC co-founders Russell Dynes and E.L. Quarantelli, both professors
emeritus of sociology at UD, subtitled Building on the Legacy of the
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Research materials included in the Scanlon collection include photographs from sites of various disasters that Joe Scanlon studied.
Prof. Scanlons family is pleased that his papers will be part of the
DRC collection, said Meaghan Scanlon, one of his daughters.
"Dad always spoke highly of Delaware, and it seemed clear to our
family that the DRC was the best place for his papers, she said. We're
very pleased to know that his archives are being cared for so well and
haven't doubted our decision to send the papers to Delaware for a single
Whenever Prof. Scanlon visited the UD campus, Young said, he had two
primary goals: to connect with DRC faculty members and students and to
make use of the resource center for his own research.
He thought of himself as a kind of honorary Blue Hen, she said,
usually finding time to attend a UD basketball game or other sporting
event while on campus and driving around Ottawa with a Blue Hen bumper
sticker on his car.
He also contributed material to the resource center throughout his career.
Even before his familys recent donation of his papers, the center
housed more than 300 papers that Prof. Scanlon authored or co-authored.
Young said his interests were wide-ranging, including the international
response to disasters with mass casualties, and his scholarly work
benefited from his expertise as a journalist.
His interests were very broad, so we have a wide range of materials
in his collection that we just would not have had access to any other
way, she said. His background in journalism gave him a unique
perspective, and it made him an amazing storyteller.
More about the Disaster Research Center
The DRC is the nations first center devoted to the social scientific study of disasters.
Since the centers founding in 1963, its researchers have established
much of the basis for the field of disaster research, conducting some
700 field studies in the U.S. and around the world in communities
devastated by natural and man-made events.
Today, the DRC is part of the College of Arts and Sciences, with core faculty members from the School of Public Policy and Administration and the departments of Sociology and Criminal Justice and of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Affiliated faculty from UD and other institutions represent the fields
of history, English, environmental policy and political science.