Cutting, C. Suydam (Charles Suydam), 1889-1972

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Exist Dates

1889 January 17 - 1972 August 24

Biographical or Historical Note

abstract
C. Suydam Cutting was born in New York City in 1899, and died in 1972. He was the son of Robert Fulton Cutting (1852-1934). Cutting senior was a trustee of the American Museum of Natural History, and a banker; politician; society figure; and philanthropist.(1) C. Suydam Cutting served in both world wars and was a decorated veteran. He had a Croix de Guerre (with gold star) and Croix Noire from the French. He was also an Honorary Commander, Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. (2)

He was a prominent amateur athlete (3) and a Harvard trained engineer. His went on his first expedition in 1925 with Kermit and Theodore Roosevelt to Central Asia. Ten years later he went on the expedition to Tibet that is the subject of this collection; it made him famous (4) as one of the first Westerners to see Lhasa. In order to gain favor with the Dalai Lama to gain admittance to Lhasa, he gave the Dalai Lama a series of gifts over some years, among them a pair of dachshunds, a pair of Dalmations and various household items. The Dalai Lama was interested in obtaining an ostrich but it was felt that an ostrich would not have survived the journey to Tibet (5). In return, the Dalai Lama not only permitted Cutting and Vernay to enter Lhasa, he gave Cutting the first Lhasa Apso dogs to enter the US in 1933, these established the breed in the US (6). Cutting’s book, The Fire Ox and Other Years, about this expedition was published commercially. (7)

Cutting was also a member of the Explorer’s Club of New York City. Founded in the early twentieth century, The Explorer’s Club promotes expeditions; its members climbed Everest and were the “first” to both poles and the surface of the moon. (8) In a record from the Explorers’ Club he reported that he was a trustee of the American Museum of Natural History and an officer of the New York Zoological Society and recorded his other expeditions to Tibet and other countries in Central Asia, one of which was for the Roosevelt-Simpson Field Museum. (9)

Cutting did a great deal of writing. In addition to his book, he wrote a number of articles for Natural History in the 1930’s, including one about this expedition, “In Lhasa-The Forbidden.” His article about hunting with a maharajah’s specially trained cheetahs was collected in As Told at the As Told at the Explorer’s Club: More than Fifty Tales of Adventure, George Plimpton, editor. (10)

Cutting died in 1972 in Bernardsville, New Jersey. He was survived by his wife, Mrs. Mary Payne Filley, and his sister, Mrs. Neville Booker. (4)

Sources

    (1) Alvin F. Harlow, Ed. Dictionary of American Biography, as excerpted in AMNH Special Collections vertical file
    (2) Who Was Who, p. 166, as excerpted in AMNH Special Collections vertical file
    (3) “Suydam Cutting Wins Final Round in National Court Tennis Tourney in Straight Sets” The New York Times, (New York, NY), April 11, 1920.
    (4) “C. Suydam Cutting, Who Made Historic Visit to Tibet, Is Dead” The New York Times, (New York, NY), August 25th, 1972.
    (5) C. Suydam Cutting, “In Lhasa-The Forbidden” Natural History, February 1936.
    (6) “Get To Know the Lhasa Apso”, AKC Meet the Breeds, https://www.akc.org/breeds/lhasa_apso/index.cfm as downloaded July 2014
    (7) C. Suydam Cutting, The Fire Ox and Other Years, New York, Scribner’s Sons, 1940.
    (8) “About the Club,” http://www.explorers.org/index.php/about/about_the_club
    (9) Self reported record, The Explorers’ Club, New York City.
    (10) George Plimpton, Ed. As Told at the Explorer’s Club: More than Fifty Tales of Adventure, Guilford, Connecticut, Globe Pequot, 2003.
    Library of Congress Name Authority n96109601

Terms

languageUsed
localDescription
male
localDescription
American

Related Corporate, Personal, and Family Names

employedBy
American Museum of Natural History
participantIn
Cutting-Vernay Expedition to Tibet
Leader, co-financer of the Cutting-Vernay Expedition to Tibet of the American Museum of Natural History. Worked many years to plan and make connections in order to gain permits to journey to the expeditions locations in Tibet.
Field Museum of Natural HistoryExternal link
New York Zoological SocietyExternal link
worksWith
Vernay, Arthur Stannard
Worked with Cutting as leader, co-financer of the Cutting-Vernay Expedition to Tibet of the American Museum of Natural History.

Related Resources

creatorOf
To Lhasa and Shigatse [videorecording.]
Creator: American Museum of Natural History. Extent: 1 videocassette (73 min.) : si., b&w ; 3/4 in. Repository: AMNH Special Collections, Film Collection no. 166

Written by: Valerie Clark
Last modified: 2016 October 6


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