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Theodore Tellefsen (T. T.) and Elizabeth Herendeen Odell collection, 1916-2001

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: SC-18

Scope and Contents

The collection on Theodore Tellefsen Odell and his wife Elizabeth Herendeen Odell contains correspondence, biographical materials, publications, awards, photographs, and some memorabilia. Theodore T. Odell was a biology professor at Hobart and William Smith Colleges from 1921-1965, and the majority of the correspondence relates to his time as professor. He writes to a number of HWS administrators regarding the biology department, premedical advising, the hiring of new faculty, and the development of the curriculum. There are also a number of awards and citations given to both Theodore and Elizabeth honoring their work at the Colleges. A file of Theodore T. Odell's publications is also included.


  • 1916-2001


Conditions Governing Access

Documents of a personal and confidential nature are closed to researchers in accordance with library policy. These include salary notification letters and correspondence regarding the retention and hiring of faculty and instructors in the Biology Department. These documents are located in Folder 20.

Biographical Note

Theodore Tellefsen (T. T.) Odell was born on December 4, 1896, in Buffalo, New York. He was a member of the Hobart College class of 1920, recieved his MS from Cornell University in 1927 and his PhD 1934. Odell was an Instructor in Biology at Hobart and William Smith Colleges from 1921-1927, Assistant Professor of Biology 1927-1935, and Professor of Biology from 1935-1965. He was a member of the American Ornithologists' Union, the American Fisheries Society, the American Society for the Advancement of Science, the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, and many other scientific societies. Odell was Biologist for the New York State Conservation Department during the summers from 1927-1932. His published works include "Ecology of Freshwater Fishes," "Food of Orchard Birds," and "Life History and Ecological Relationships of the Alewife," among others.

During his college years T. T. Odell participated in the Chapel Choir, the Christian Association, and the wrestling and cross-country teams. He was also a reporter and associate editor of the Herald newspaper. He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and was a charter member of The Crescent Club (now Kappa Sigma fraternity).

In 1922 Theodore T. Odell married Elizabeth Herendeen Odell, William Smith '22. Elizabeth (Betty) later served as Director of William Smith Alumnae Relations. The couple had 3 children: Theodore T. Odell Jr. Hobart '44, Edith Rapalee William Smith '45, and Alice Ham William Smith '56.

T. T. Odell retired from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 1965 and was elected Professor Emeritus in June 1966. At commencement ceremonies in 1967 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree from HWS. Theodore T. Odell died Feb. 8, 1974 after what was described as a long illness. All his life T. T. Odell was a devout Episcopalian, educator and lay leader of the church. Odell also was a member of the Geneva City Board of Education for 13 years, 10 of those years as its chairman. He received the Distinguished Faculty Award posthumously in 1998.

Elizabeth (Betty) Herendeen Odell was born in 1900 in Buffalo, NY, the daughter of an Episcopal minister. While a student at William Smith College she majored in history, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and graduated magna cum laude in 1922. In 1952 she was appointed Alumnae Secretary, and later Director of William Smith Alumnae Relations, a post she held until her retirement in 1970. Upon her retirement she was named Executive Secretary Emerita of the William Smith Alumnae Association. At the commencement ceremonies in 1981 Elizabeth Odell was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. Elizabeth was also very involved in the local Episcopal church, Geneva Home Improvement Corporation, the Geneva Food Cooperative, and the Geneva College Club. Elizabeth Herendeen Odell died in 1984.


1 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



This collection contains items relating primarily to the career of Theodore Tellefsen Odell and to some extent his wife, Elizabeth Herendeen Odell. Items include: correspondence, publications, photographs, newspaper articles, biographical materials, awards, honorary degrees, event programs, and academic memorabilia.


This collection is arranged into the following series:

  1. Biographical Materials
  2. Correspondence and Invitations
  3. Theodore Tellefsen (T. T.) Odell Publications
  4. Awards, Citations, and Scholarships
  5. Programs
  6. Photographs
  7. Memorabilia
  8. Miscellaneous


Box 1: Archives Storage, Range 22B, Section 2


The provenance of the materials in this collection is unclear. Some materials were likely donated by T. T. or Elizabeth (Betty) Odell or their children, but there is no record of when the materials were donated or by whom. The staff of the Archives and Special Collections compiled this collection from various folders containing records related to Theodore T. and Elizabeth H. Odell, including personal papers such as correspondence, invitations, awards, and citations. This collection was created by the Archives and therefore does not constitute the actual personal papers of Theodore T. Odell, even though papers of that nature are included.

Theodore Tellefsen (T. T.) and Elizabeth Herendeen Odell collection, 1916-2001: A Finding Aid
Katie Lamontagne, Archivist
November 2011
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Hobart and William Smith Colleges Archives and Special Collections Repository

Warren Hunting Smith Library
Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Geneva New York 14456 U.S.A. US (United States)