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Warren and Genevieve Garst Collection

Identifier: MGAR

Scope and Contents

The Warren and Genevieve Garst Collection consists of documents dated 1907 to 2012, with the bulk falling from 1962 to 1987.


  • Creation: 1907-2012
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1962-1987


Restrictions on Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection. However, the collection is stored off-site so advance notice is required.

Restrictions on Use

Not all of the material in the collection is in the public domain. Researchers are responsible for addressing copyright issues.


Warren and Genny Garst spent at least nine months a year on the road shooting film footage for Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom from 1962 until 1987. They traveled to all seven continents, visually recording the world's animals, people, and places.

Warren Garst was born on September 21, 1922 in Douglas, Wyoming, where he spent most of his childhood. He attended Cal Tech and later transferred to the University of Colorado at Boulder to study mechanical engineering. His college career was interrupted temporarily when he enlisted in the United States Navy in 1942. After four years of service, Warren returned to the University of Colorado and completed his degree in mechanical engineering in 1946. Upon graduating, he became a petroleum engineer for Stanolind Oil in Colorado and Wyoming until 1950.

In 1950, he returned home to Douglas to become a freelance writer, working with his mother Doris "Shannon" Garst. During the summers of 1951 and 1952 Warren worked as an assistant to the director at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Research Station photographing animals. There he met the director of one of Disney's wildlife episodes. This meeting led to two years of filming "Vanishing Prairie," part of Disney's True-Life Adventure series. For another two years, he worked on "Perri," a Disney fantasy about the life of squirrels.

In 1956, Warren began filming "stock footage" of wildlife. After viewing Warren's footage, NBC producer Don Meier hired Warren for NBC's televised series Zoo Parade. A signed contract for the show was held by NBC and featuring star Marlin Perkins, then director of Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. Warren acted as a photographer for the show and would soon receive his own contract. While they were filming in Colombia, NBC cancelled all Zoo Parade contracts. Don Meier decided to buy the Marlin Perkins contract, which later became known as Wild Kingdom. The new television series was first televised in 1962 and was sponsored by the insurance agency Mutual of Omaha.

Genny Sherwin was born on September 6, 1922 in Padroni, Colorado. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin with degrees in mathematics and engineering. During her senior year, she received a fellowship in aero engineering from Pratt Whitney Aircraft, working as a flight test engineer. After that, she held various positions including teaching statistics and mathematics. While working at North American Aviation she learned computer programming. In 1955, Genny moved to Douglas, Wyoming and soon after met Warren Garst. From there, she went to work at Martin Marietta in Denver as a computer programmer. On May 3, 1958, Genny and Warren were married.

In 1958, the Garsts moved to Fort Collins after Genny accepted a position at Colorado State University (CSU) teaching computer science. While filming wildlife and editing the first program for Wild Kingdom, Warren also worked on his masters in zoology at CSU. By the time he graduated, he had become a full-time wildlife photographer for Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom.

In 1963, Genny left her position at CSU to accompany Warren on a part-time assignment in Africa. What they thought was going to be a six month contract turned into 25 years of a worldwide expedition filming wildlife. The Garsts relocated to Chicago in 1963. Warren was awarded an honor alumnus award in 1971 and an honorary doctorate of science in 1980 from CSU. After Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom was cancelled, Warren officially retired in 1987 and the Garsts returned to Fort Collins in 1988. Genny Garst died on July 9, 2013 and Warren Garst died on July 12, 2016.


30 linear feet

Language of Materials



For 25 years, from 1962 until 1987, Warren and Genny Garst spent at least nine months a year on the road shooting film footage for Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, the country's preeminent wildlife and adventure documentary series. In his role as photographer Warren created over 20,000 images of animals, people, and places across all seven continents. The collection contains correspondence between Warren and Genny, research materials, Warren's writings including drafts and index cards for his zoology dictionary Zoolexicon, and their photographic slide collection.


The collection consists of 5 series in 14 boxes and 7 cases:

Series 1: Correspondence, 1946-1988

Series 2: Personal materials, 1938-2009

Series 3: Writings and presentations, 1950s-2000s and undated

Subseries 3.1: Zoolexicon, 1960s-2006

Subseries 3.2: Miscellaneous writings, 1950s-2000s

Subseries 3.3: Slide presentations, 1985 and undated

Series 4: General research files, 1907-2012

Subseries 4.1: U.S. States and territories, 1960s-1990s

Subseries 4.2: Animals, cultures, habitats, and general scientific research, 1907-2012

Series 5: Slides, 1962-1987


The Warren and Genevieve Garst Collection was donated by Warren and Genevieve Garst from 1999-2016.

Online Materials

Approximately 1300 of the more than 20,000 slides have been digitized by the Colorado State University Libraries. Additionally, some correspondence, diaries, and oral histories have been digitized. In the electronic version of this document, direct links appear in context. A video of the celebration of Warren Garst's life following his death is not included in this finding aid but is available.VIEW


Processing was completed in March 2016. Materials were rehoused in acid-free boxes and folders.

Guide to the Warren and Genevieve Garst Collection
Edited Full Draft
Prepared by Karen Spilman
Copyright 2016
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the CSU Libraries Archives & Special Collections Repository

Fort Collins Colorado 80523-1019 USA