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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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Barbour, Thomas (19 August 1884–08 January 1946), naturalist and museum director, was born on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, the son of William Barbour and Julia Adelaide Sprague. The Barbours lived in New York City, but William Barbour, an international businessman dealing primarily in linen thread manufacture, often traveled, sometimes accompanied by his family. Thus, by the time he was eight, Thomas Barbour had visited various natural history museums in Europe. Also in his youth he began to collect reptiles and amphibians, both in the Adirondack Mountains during the summers and one winter at his grandmother’s house in Florida. In New York Barbour spent a lot of time at the Bronx Park Zoo as it was being developed in the late 1890s; there he begged zoo officials to let him have deceased reptiles for his collection. After a visit to the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University when he was fifteen, Barbour decided that he would someday become director of that facility....

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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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Fowler, Orson Squire (11 October 1809–18 August 1887), phrenologist and publisher, was born in Cohocton, Steuben County, New York, the son of Horace Fowler, a farmer, and Martha Howe. He was graduated from Amherst College in 1834 and in 1835 married Eliza Brevoort Chevalier, a widow, by whom he had two children. Though educated for the ministry, he devoted himself to phrenology, the “science” of the mind that was formulated by Franz Joseph Gall and introduced to the United States by Johann Gaspar Spurzheim. Phrenology postulated that, because the brain was the organ of the mind and shaped the skull, there was an observable concomitance between the mind (talents, disposition, character) and the shape of the head. In an analysis, a phrenologist examined the latter to determine the former. Immediately after graduation Fowler started his professional career as itinerant practical phrenologist in New England. Using charts and a phrenological bust, he lectured on phrenology and analyzed heads, sizing “organs” or “faculties” such as amativeness, combativeness, firmness, and ideality to determine character. It was believed that each faculty manifested itself through its own cerebral organ, the size of which indicated its functional power. The size of the organ, it was believed, could be increased or decreased by exercise....

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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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Lucas, Frederic Augustus (25 March 1852–09 February 1929), naturalist and museum administrator, was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts, the son of Augustus Henry Lucas, a clipper ship captain, and Eliza Oliver. Until age eighteen Lucas lived in Plymouth, where he attended public schools. At the age of six he crossed the Atlantic on his father’s ship for the first time. Thereafter he often sailed with his father, circling the globe twice. He had no intention, however, of making sailing a career. At an early age he developed a keen interest in natural history, particularly in collecting birds, a common avocation of the period. On voyages he often caught seabirds and stuffed them, and he took advantage of time ashore in foreign lands to study local natural history. He was particularly adept at working with tools and innovating when appropriate tools were not available. He also kept detailed notes and developed exceptional artistic skills, abilities that served him well throughout his life. When he was eighteen, his skills, enthusiasm, and understanding of natural history led to employment at ...

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Pitman, Benn (24 July 1822–28 December 1910), phonographer and teacher of decorative arts, was born in Trowbridge, near Bath, England, the son of Samuel Pitman, a manager of a cloth factory, and Mariah Davis. Home life was strict for Benn and his six brothers and four sisters. Trivial conversation was discouraged, and younger children were required to stand silently while eating at the dinner table. His parents, however, supported education, subscribed to a local lending library, and encouraged a liberal view toward religious and intellectual issues. His early schooling, gained from the parish rector, from the poet George Crabbe, and through instruction at home, provided Pitman with a solid middle-class education. At the age of fifteen he learned a system of phonography, or shorthand, just developed by his older brother Isaac, and he assisted in the publication of Isaac’s first manual. For a brief time Benn Pitman trained with the city architect of Bath, a situation that provided his first exposure to functional design. In 1842 he returned to the promotion of phonography, and for several years he lectured and taught, often with his brothers and other young enthusiasts, in the principal cities and towns of Great Britain....

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Putnam, Frederic Ward (16 April 1839–14 August 1915), anthropologist, naturalist, and museologist, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, the son of Ebenezer Putnam and Elizabeth Appleton. His early years were devoted to the study of natural history on his own, beginning with a serious interest in the study of birds. Remarkably, he became a curator of ornithology at the Essex Institute in Salem in 1856 at age seventeen. That same year Putnam entered the Lawrence Scientific Schools at Harvard University. There he was a pupil and an assistant of the eminent naturalist ...

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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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Stimpson, William (14 February 1832–26 May 1872), marine zoologist and museum administrator, was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts, the son of Herbert Hathorne Stimpson, an inventor and successful stove merchant, and Mary Ann Devereau Brewer. He was educated in the public schools of Cambridge, Massachusetts. His interest in natural history was piqued when he saw a copy of ...

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Stout, Gardner Dominick (21 April 1903–16 January 1984), investment banker, museum president, and naturalist, was born in New York City, the son of Andrew Varick Stout, a stockbroker, and Ethel Dominick. As a small boy, visits to the American Museum of Natural History first aroused Stout’s interest, he said, “in natural history and the world of animate things.” While vacationing with his family at a summer home in Rumson, he wandered along the Jersey shore, exploring the natural world and observing the behaviors of the shorebirds. Stout’s interest in nature was balanced by his commitment to the family business, and he graduated cum laude from Yale University in 1926. Later that year he joined the Wall Street banking firm of Dominick and Dominick, which had been founded in 1870 by his grandfather Bayard Dominick. In 1928 Stout purchased a seat on the New York Stock Exchange for $335,000, which was at the time the highest price ever paid for a seat. That same year he became a general partner in Dominick and Dominick. In 1930 he married Clare Kellogg, who shared his enthusiasm for travel and nature. They had three sons....

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Taylor, Frank Augustus (25 March 1903–14 June 2007), historian of science and technology and museum administrator, was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Augustus Carrier Taylor, a pharmacist on Capitol Hill, and Josephine M. Kübel Taylor. His maternal grandfather, Edward Kübel, a noted scientific instrument maker from Bavaria, lived nearby. As a youth Taylor spent much time in his father’s store, especially its popular ice cream parlor. After graduating from McKinley Manual Training School in 1921, Taylor worked for a building contractor. One of his teachers had required that students take the Civil Service exam for mechanical drawing to pass the course. Based on that exam, in 1922 Taylor was hired as a laboratory apprentice at the Division of Mechanical Technology at the United States National Museum, part of the Smithsonian Institution. Although he grew up in Washington, D.C., he had rarely visited the museum and never planned to work there. Once on the staff Taylor proved such a diligent and talented worker that he was encouraged to pursue college studies as part of his training. He received a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1928 with a thesis on “Investigation of the Arnold Hardness Testing Machine,” and a J.D. in 1934 from Georgetown University Law School....