Series 1: Correspondence
Series 2: Subject Files
Series 3: Project Files
Series 4: Oversize Materials
Series 5: Photographs
Series 6: Slides
Joe Kendall Neel was born June 12, 1915 in Tacoma, Virginia, the son of George Frank and Evelyn (Herold) Neel. He grew up in Winchester, Kentucky, where he graduated from high school. He attended the University of Kentucky, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in 1937 and a Master of Science degree in 1938. From 1942-1946 Neel served in an Army medical entomologist supporting a malaria control program administered by the United States Public Health Service (USPHS). He attained the rank of captain. In 1947 Neel earned a Doctorate Degree (as a Rackham Fellow) from the University of Michigan. His specialty was limnology, the scientific study of bodies of fresh water as it relates to their physical, geographical, and biological features.
Neel was a faculty member at the University of Kentucky from 1947-1950. From 1950 to 1963, Neel again worked for the USPHS, as a staff member of the Federal Water Pollution Control Administration. As a result of work performed during this tenure, Neel became known as a pioneer in the study of sewage lagoons as well as an expert at identifying invertebrates, microscopic organisms, insects, and larvae in streams. Sponsored by the State Department in 1962, Neel traveled around the world lecturing on waste treatment. A year later he was named the director of the Potamalogical Institute at Louisville, Kentucky, a job he held until 1966.
In 1966, Neel accepted a professorship in UND's Biology Department and his limnological expertise led him to become involved in many regional research projects. In North Dakota he studied Grand Forks sewage lagoons, the Upper Missouri River Basin, Devils Lake, and Turtle River. Neel was fascinated by the Turtle River and he documented his seven-year study of it in a 1985 publication entitled A Northern Prairie Stream. In Minnesota, Neel coordinated research performed at Lake Sallie and the Pelican River Basin. He was presented the Sigma Xi Research Award in 1972.
Neel was a member of the American Society for Limnology and Oceanography, the Ecological Society of America, the Microscopical Society, and the Water Pollution Control Federation. In 1969 he was one of four UND professors named in the first edition of the World Who's Who in Science. Neel retired from UND after the 1980-81 school year. He died at his Grand Forks home June 22, 1990 at the age of 75.
Neel married Erma Bernice Baugh August 20, 1942 in Lexington, Kentucky. The couple had one son, Joseph Neel, Jr.
Additional donations made by Joe K. Neel and Paul Kannowski