Mearns, Edgar Alexander, 1856-1916

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Exist Dates

September 11, 1856 - November 1, 1916

Biographical or Historical Note

Edgar A. Mearns was an army surgeon and field naturalist. A tireless explorer and collector, Mearns contributed the first study collection of birds to the American Museum of Natural History in 1883. Mearns displayed an early interest in zoology, especially birds, corresponding with other collectors and writing papers. He consulted with J.A. Allen of the AMNH, and spent the winter following his 1881 graduation from medical school setting up the museum's first student collection in vertebrate zoology. After entering the army, Mearns continued to pursue his field work during postings throughout the U.S., and later in Cuba and the Philippines, collecting both zoological and botanical specimens. In 1891, Mearns was appointed to the Mexican-United States International Boundary Commission. With the help of the AMNH and other agencies, Mearns was able to explore the entire boundary line from El Paso, Tex., to the Pacific Coast, by 1894, collecting 30,000 specimens for the U.S. National Museum, his primary affiliation. Following his retirement, Mearns participated in two expeditions to East Africa, in 1909 and 1911.


    Library of Congress Name Authority File
    From biographical note for Mearns's archive collection at the AMNH Library, Mss .M43, written by Ann Herendeen.

Related Corporate, Personal, and Family Names

American Museum of Natural History

Related Resources

Edgar A. Mearns correspondence, 1883-1915
Repository: AMNH Special Collections, Mss .M43

Written by: Iris Lee
Last modified: 2018 October 1


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