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Joel Allen Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-102410).

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Allen, Joel Asaph (19 July 1838–29 August 1921), zoologist and museum official, was born near Springfield, Massachusetts, the son of Joel Allen, a carpenter, housebuilder, and later a farmer, and Harriet Trumbull, a former schoolteacher. Allen attended the local public schools in the wintertime, but his father, a rigidly puritanical Congregationalist, insisted that he work on the family farm during good weather. From the age of about fourteen, as Allen’s interest in natural history, particularly birds, increased, his interest in farming diminished. He nevertheless worked long hours for his father in a spirit of filial loyalty, possibly laying the foundation for the serious bouts of ill health that would plague him in later years. Whenever possible, he prepared study specimens of birds and animals for his own private collection. From 1858 to 1862 Allen’s father supported his intermittent attendance at nearby Wilbraham Academy....

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Anthony, Harold Elmer (05 April 1890–29 March 1970), mammalogist, museum curator, and author, was born in Beaverton, Oregon, the son of Alfred Webster Anthony and Anabel Klink. His father, a mining engineer and amateur ornithologist and collector, encouraged the boy’s interests in natural history. Anthony was an avid hunter, as were other lads in his community, but he early evinced an interest in preserving small mammal and bird skins for further study. Educated in the local public schools of Portland, Oregon, Anthony attended Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, for one year (1910–1911)....

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Frank M. Chapman. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-102412).

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Chapman, Frank Michler (12 June 1864–15 November 1945), ornithologist and museum curator, was born in Englewood Township, New Jersey, the son of Lebbeus Chapman, Jr., a partner in a New York City law firm, and Mary Augusta Parkhurst. His father died when his son was eleven. In addition to possessing a strong ornithological interest from the age of eight, Chapman inherited a musical ear from his mother, and his daughter-in-law, ...

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Friedmann, Herbert (22 April 1900–14 May 1987), ornithologist and museum director, was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Uriah M. Friedmann, a druggist, and Mary Behrmann, a teacher. Growing up in New York City, he developed an interest in nature and art through frequent visits to the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. During high school Friedmann joined a bird club and began making observations of the local avifauna. Friedmann graduated from the City College of New York with a B.Sc. in biology in 1920. Shortly thereafter he published his first ornithological paper, “The Weaving of the Red-billed Weaver Bird in Captivity” ( ...

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Goode, George Brown (13 February 1851–06 September 1896), zoologist, museum administrator, and historian of science, was born in New Albany, Indiana, the son of Francis Collier Goode, a merchant, and Sarah Woodruff Crane. Goode’s mother died just eighteen months after his birth, and he was raised by his father and stepmother, Sally Ann Jackson. In 1857 his father retired to Amenia, about 100 miles north of New York City. Family study and private tutors prepared Goode for entrance into Wesleyan College in Middletown, Connecticut, from which he graduated with an A.B. in 1870. He attended the Lawrence Scientific School at Harvard University and apparently spent some time in ...

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Hentz, Nicholas Marcellus (25 July 1797–04 November 1856), entomologist, educator, and miniaturist, was born in Versailles, France (although he is also recorded as being a native of Metz), the son of Nicholas Hentz, a lawyer, and Marie-Anne Thèrese Daubrée. Around 1816, when Hentz was in his late teens, the Hentz family left France for the United States, allegedly for reasons connected to Hentz’s father’s political activities. Given the situation in France between 1814 and 1816—the fall and rise and fall of Napoleon, the restoration of the French monarchy—emigration was probably expedient for a number of people. Further, if the family did have a connection to Metz, which is on the Moselle River and part of Alsace-Lorraine, the Hentzes’ decision to leave their homeland could have been affected by German as well as French political fluctuations....

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Richmond, Charles Wallace (31 December 1868–19 May 1932), ornithologist and museum curator, was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the son of Edward Leslie Richmond, a railway mail clerk and federal government employee, and Josephine Ellen Henry. He developed an interest in birds as a young child and began collecting bird eggs around his Kenosha home. His mother died in 1880, and shortly thereafter the family moved to Washington, D.C., where his father took a position with the U.S. Government Printing Office and remarried. Once in Washington Richmond began visiting the Smithsonian Institution and became acquainted with ...

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Robert Ridgway. A 1909 copy of an 1868 photograph. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-106022).

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Ridgway, Robert (02 July 1850–25 March 1929), ornithologist and museum curator, was born in Mount Carmel, Illinois, the son of David Ridgway, a pharmacist, and Henrietta Janes Reed. The eldest of ten children, he was educated in the local school and by his parents, who encouraged his interests in natural history. At the early age of ten Ridgway demonstrated considerable ability in collecting birds and other animals near his home and in painting them with watercolors he mixed himself at his father’s pharmacy....

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Ripley, S. Dillon (20 September 1913–12 March 2001), ornithologist, conservationist, and Smithsonian secretary, was born Sidney Dillon Ripley in New York City and grew up in Litchfield, Connecticut. The fourth child of Louis Arthur Dillon Ripley, a stockbroker, and Constance Baillie Rose, he was the great-grandson of Sidney Dillon, president of the Union Pacific Railroad. Ripley attended St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire and developed an early interest in natural history. At age thirteen he accompanied his family to India, and Ripley and his sister went on a six-week walking tour of Ladakh and western Tibet, stimulating a lifelong interest in East Asian natural history....

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Stejneger, Leonhard Hess (30 October 1851–28 February 1943), ornithologist, herpetologist, and museum curator, was born in Bergen, Norway, the son of Peter Stamer Steineger, a merchant, and Ingeborg Catharina Hess. Born with the German surname Steineger, he took its Norwegian spelling after 1870. At the age of sixteen Stejneger showed an interest in zoology—especially birds—and kept extensive notes and sketches from field observations. In 1871 he published in ...

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True, Frederick William (08 July 1858–25 June 1914), zoologist and museum administrator, was born in Middletown, Connecticut, the son of Charles Kittredge True, Methodist minister, and Elizabeth Bassett Hyde. True was educated at the University of the City of New York, graduating in 1878 with a bachelor of science degree. On graduation he accepted a position as clerk in the U.S. Fish Commission (1878–1881); in 1879 he served as an expert special agent for fisheries in the Tenth U.S. Census. The following year he was in charge of the exhibit of the U.S. Fish Commission at the Berlin Fisheries Exhibition....

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Wetmore, Alexander (18 June 1886–07 December 1978), ornithologist, avian paleontologist, and museum administrator, was born Frank Alexander Wetmore in North Freedom, Wisconsin, the son of Dr. Nelson Franklin Wetmore, a general practitioner, and Emma Amelia Woodworth. As a boy, he walked to school in the town of Baraboo, which was six miles from his home. His interest in natural history, which dated from boyhood, was encouraged by his mother. For reasons of health, Emma Wetmore found it necessary to avoid the cold Wisconsin winters, and she often traveled further south with her son in tow. He spent his final year of high school in Independence, Kansas, graduating in 1905. The following summer he worked as a railway station night clerk....