Andrews, Roy Chapman, 1884-1960

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Exist Dates

1884 January 26 - 1960 March 11

Biographical or Historical Note

See description in AMNH Archives database:

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


  • 1844 - 1906: Beloit (Wis.)External link Andrews was born and raised in Beloit, WI and attended Beloit College.
  • January 26, 1884: Born, Beloit.
  • 1906 - 1941: New YorkExternal link Andrews worked for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, NY.
  • 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


affiliated person
Beloit (Wis.)External link
dates: 1844-1906

Andrews was born and raised in Beloit, WI and attended Beloit College.
New YorkExternal link
dates: 1906-1941

Andrews worked for the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, NY.
MongoliaExternal link
(Expedition Site)

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.
ChināExternal link
(Expedition Site)

Through the Central Asiatic Expeditions, Andrews explored many areas of China.
AlaskaExternal link
(Expedition Site)

Andrews led whaling expeditions in the region of Alaska and British Columbia.
JapanExternal link
(Expedition Site)

Andrews led multiple whaling expeditions into Japan and along the Japanese coast.
KoreaExternal link
(Expedition Site)

Andrews led expeditions for whales and other sea mammals and birds in Korea.
CanadaExternal link
(Expedition Site)

Andrews did expeditionary work in various areas of Canada.
PhilippinesExternal link
(Expedition Site)

Andrews led an expedition into the Philippines and environs to collect natural history and ethnographic materials.

Related Corporate, Personal, and Family Names

American Museum of Natural History
associated dates: 1906-1941

Andrews was employed by the American Museum of Natural History.
Andrews Alaskan Expedition
Andrews was leader of this expedition to collect mammals and birds and stufy whales in Vancouver, Alaska and British Columbia.
Andrews Canadian Field Trip
Andrews was leader of this trip to Tadousec, Quebec to collect small crustacean specimens.
Andrews Whaling Expedition to Korea of the American Museum of Natural History (1911-1912)
Andrews was leader of this expedition to the Japanese coast and Korea which collected and researched whales, other mammals and birds.
Andrews, Charles Ezra
Charles Ezra Andrews was Andrews' father.
Andrews, Cora Chapman
Cora Chapman Andrews was Andrews' mother.
Andrews, George Borup
George Borup Andrews was Andrews' older son.
Andrews, Roy Kevin
Roy Kevin Andrews was Andrews' second son.
Andrews, Wilhelmina Christmas
associated dates: 1935-1960

Wilhelmina (Billie) Christmas was Andrews' second wife. They were married from 1935 until his death in 1960.
Andrews, Yvette Borup
associated dates: 1914-1931

Yvette Borup was Andrews' first wife. They married in 1914 and divorced in 1931.
Asiatic Zoological Expedition of the American Museum of Natural History (2nd: 1918-1919)
associated dates: 1918-1919

Andrews was leader of this expedition into the Gobi Desert, which was the first that would explore the use of motor cars in desert expeditionary work.
Asiatic Zoölogical Expedition of the American Museum of Natural History (1st: 1916-1917)
associated dates: 1916-1917

Andrews was the leader and acted as big-game hunter for this expedition into Yunnan and Fujien Provinces in China.
Beloit CollegeExternal link
associated dates: 1902-1906

Andrews received his Bachelors degree from Beloit College.
Borden Expedition
Andrews acted as photographer and led this expedition on the Alaskan coast to search for the bowhead whale and other sea mammal specimens.
Central Asiatic Expeditions (1921-1930)
associated dates: 1921-1930

This expedition explored the Gobi desert of Mongolia in depth and resulted in extensive research and findings of dinosaur fossils. As leader and general manager of the expedition, Andrews was responsible for the research and collection in the various aspects of the exploration. He also was responsible for the fundraising and publicity efforts for the expedition.
Columbia UniversityExternal link
Andrews received his Masters degree from Columbia University.
Japanese Whaling Expedition
Andrews led this expedition on the Japanese coast to collect whale and porpoise skeleton specimens.
Philippine Expedition
Andrews was leader of this expedition which aimed to collect both ethnographic as well as natural history material and specimens in the Philippines, Moluccas, Celebes, and Borneo.

Related Resources

Roy Chapman Andrews papers
associated dates:

Creator: Roy Chapman Andrews (1884-1960) Extent: 12 linear ft. (20 boxes) Repository: AMNH Special Collections, Mss. A51-.A54
Journals of expeditions to Mongolia
associated dates: 1919-1930

Creator: Roy Chapman Andrews Extent: 11 v. ; 27 cm. Repository: AMNH Special Collections, 51-F v.1-11., also available as Archive Microfilm #31 (4 microfilm reels, 35 mm). Microfilm copy lacks the Tung Ling vol. Description: Includes lecture by Roy Chapman Andrews, "Camera hunting for whales"
Exploration tales for soldiers and sailors YMCA lecture series.
Creator: Extent: 1 box (0.25 linear feet) Repository: AMNH Special Collections, Mss .Y55, also available as Archive Microfilm #56 (2 microfilm reels, 35 mm).
Central Asiatic Expeditions papers
associated dates: 1919-1930s

Creator: Central Asiatic Expeditions (1921-1930) Extent: 14 boxes (7 linear feet) Repository: AMNH Special Collections, Mss. C446

Written by: Kendra Meyer
Last modified: 2022 January 19


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