1884 January 26 - 1960 March 11
Biographical or Historical Note
- Roy Chapman Andrews was an explorer, paleontologist, and a well-known figure at the American Museum of Natural History. Born
in Beloit, Wisconsin on January 26, 1884 to Cora Chapman and Charles Ezra Andrews, he enjoyed hunting and the study of nature.
He taught himself taxidermy and, being the only taxidermist in the Beloit area, provided preparation and mounting services
for local hunters. (1) After graduating from Beloit College in 1906 with a B.A., Andrews sought a career at AMNH, but there
were no positions available. He volunteered to work at the museum as a janitor and assistant to James L. Clark and was hired
July 16, 1906. His taxidermy skills were quickly recognized and by 1908 he was able to convince the AMNH director, H.C. Bumpus
to allow him to collect specimens in the field. (2)
From 1910 to 1914 Chapman went on expeditions to Alaska, Japan and Korea, including an expedition from 1909-1910 as a Special
Naturalist on the U.S.S. Albatross on a voyage to Dutch East Indies, Borneo, and Celebes. From 1911 to 1917 he was the assistant
curator of Mammalogy and during that time he continued his education at Columbia University. Andrews earned his Master of
Arts in Mammalogy in 1913. That year he was also member of the Borden Alaska Expedition as leader and photographer. From 1918
to 1923 he became the assistant curator of Mammals Eastern Hemisphere.
Andrews’ is most famous for his three Asiatic Zoological Expeditions. In both 1916 and 1918 he led short scientific collecting
expeditions into regions of China and the Gobi Desert. These would prove to be preparatory for the third and largest expedition
which occurred from 1921 to 1930 and explored the Gobi Desert of Mongolia and China in depth. The name was changed in 1926
to the Central Asiatic Expeditions, and this name is generally used collectively for all Andrews’ Asiatic work. During this
time he was appointed Curator-in-chief of Division IV, Asiatic Explorations and Research (the title changed to Curator in
Dept. of Asiatic Exploration and Research). These expeditions produced major discoveries, including skeletons of the extinct
rhinoceros Indricotherium (originally named Baluchitherium), the oldest and largest land mammals known at that time; and the
first recognized finding of dinosaur eggs. (3) Andrews' first wife, Yvette Borup, traveled with him and photographed many
of his early expeditions. In 1931 Andrews was named Vice-Director in charge of Exploration and research in the Administrative
and Scientific branches of the Museum. In March 1934, when his friend and colleague Dr. Sherwood became ill and could no longer
continue as director for the Museum, Andrews was named Acting Director. The title was officially changed to Director of the
museum in 1935. Andrews served as the director until his resignation in 1941.
Along with his travels, Chapman gave hundreds for lectures, was the member of numerous scientific societies, and was presented
with several awards for his achievements in the scientific community. September 5, 1935 Chapman was awarded the first significant
Sig Medal ever awarded by Sigma Chi Fraternity. That same year on November 26th he was awarded the Charles P. Daly Medal for
the year 1935 by the American Geographical Society. Chapman wrote several books including two autobiographies “Under a Lucky
Star” and “An Explorer Comes Home” and many articles. Andrews married Yvette Borup in 1914. With Yvette he had two sons, George
Borup and Roy Kevin. They divorced in 1931 and Chapman remarried to Wilhelmina “Billie” Christmas February 21, 1935. Chapman
died March 11, 1960 in Carmel, California.
1. Charles Gallenkamp, Dragon Hunter: Roy Chapman Andrews and the Central Asiatic Expeditions. (New York: Viking, 2001), 8
2. Roy Chapman Andrews, Under a lucky star, a lifetime of adventure. (New York: The Viking Press, 1943).
3. D.R. Barton, "Gambler on the Gobi: The Story of Roy Chapman Andrews," Natural History 45, No. 2 (1940): 120.
Library of Congress Name Authority File: n50023918
- January 26, 1884: Born, Beloit.
- 1906: Graduated Beloit College with BA, Beloit.
- 1906: Began employment at the American Museum of Natural History, New York.
- 1907 - 1908: Assistant in Department of Mammalogy and Ornithology
- 1908: Alaskan Expedition, Alaska.
- 1909 - 1910: Became Assistant in Department of Mammalogy
- 1909: Canadian Field trip, Canada.
- 1909: Philippine Expedition, Philippines.
- 1910: Japanese Whaling Expedition, Japan.
- 1911 - 1917: Named Assistant Curator of Mammalogy
- 1911 - 1912: Andrews Whaling Expedition to Korea, Japan, Korea.
- 1913: Borden Expedition, Alaska.
- 1913: Graduated Columbia University with MA in Mammalogy
- 1914: Married Yvette Borup
- 1916 - 1917: First Asiatic Zoological Expedition, China.
- 1917: Son George Borup Andrews born
- 1918 - 1923: Named Assistant Curator of Mammals Eastern Hemisphere
- 1919 - 1920: Second Asiatic Zoological Expedition, Mongolia.
- 1921 - 1930: Third (Central) Asiatic Expedition, Mongolia.
- 1924 - 1935: Named Curator in chief of Division IV, Asiatic Exploration and Research (Title Changed to Curator in Department of Asiatic
Exploration and Research)
- 1924: Son Roy Kevin Andrews born
- 1926: Given honorary Sc.D. From Brown University
- 1928: Given honorary Sc.D. From Beloit College
- 1931 - 1934: Became Vice-Director in Charge of Exploration and Research in the Administrative and Scientific Branches of the Museum
- 1931: Divorced Yvette Borup
- March 1934 - December 1934: Named Acting Director of the Museum
- 1935 - 1941: Named Director of the Museum
- 1935: Married Wilhelmina Christmas
- December 31, 1941: Resigned as Director of the American Museum of Natural History
- March 11, 1960: Died
- museum directors
- Beloit (Wis.)
Andrews was born and raised in Beloit, WI and attended Beloit College.
- New York
Andrews worked for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, NY.
Andrews is most famous for his expeditions into the Gobi desert of Mongolia. Collectively known as the Central Asiatic Expeditions,
these resulted in extensive findings of dinosaur fossils, including the first recorded collection of dinosaur eggs.
Through the Central Asiatic Expeditions, Andrews explored many areas of China.
Andrews led whaling expeditions in the region of Alaska and British Columbia.
Andrews led multiple whaling expeditions into Japan and along the Japanese coast.
Andrews led expeditions for whales and other sea mammals and birds in Korea.
Andrews did expeditionary work in various areas of Canada.
Andrews led an expedition into the Philippines and environs to collect natural history and ethnographic materials.