Raven, Henry Cushier, 1889-1944

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Exist Dates

1889 April 16 - 1944 April 5

Biographical or Historical Note

abstract
Henry Cushier Raven, (born April 16, 1889, Brooklyn, New York, U.S. -- died April 4, 1944), was an expert scientific illustrator, taxidermist, and collector of essential expedition specimens for several of the top natural history institutions in the United States, including Columbia University, Cornell University, Colorado Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian Institution, and the American Museum of Natural History. His research and species data collecting brought him all over the world, resulting in the acquisition of hundreds of physical specimens (resulting in many dissection illustrations) as well as copious photographic and moving-picture evidence of their natural movement and habitats.

Henry C. Raven's love for natural history combined with his talent for taxidermy led to a coveted position in 1907 at the American Museum of Natural History as an associate in the Department of Preparation. (1) After a few years of exhibition arrangement, Raven left New York in 1910 and accepted a specimen collecting position at the Colorado Museum of Natural History. (2) Only two short years later, in 1912, Raven was hired by the Smithsonian as a fresh, enthusiastic natural historian to carry on the work of William Louis Abbott and lead their expedition to the East Indies, collecting specimens for display. He spent the next ten years exploring the world in Australia, India, Peru, Greenland and beyond gathering species data and photographing natural habitats for various institutions. His contributions to mammalogy, comparative anatomy, and field photography are indispensable as we continue to understand more about the habitats and musculature evolution of animal species. Raven’s later work as Curator of Comparative Anatomy for the AMNH made it possible for him to utilize more of his skills as an expert taxidermist, dissecting and illustrating various species of whales and primates for the study of muscle structure and evolutionary patterns in development. His attention to detail both in his research notes and his scientific illustrations remain a benchmark for future study.

Outside of the scientific field, Raven is best known for his unofficial adoption of Meshie, a small infant chimpanzee he purchased while exploring the Congo in 1929. Meshie, who was popular with the local media, lived with Raven’s family for many years before being transferred to a zoo in Chicago as an adult. Upon her death, Meshie was returned to the ownership of the AMNH and now resides in the Hall of Primates. (3)

Raven died in 1944 at age 55 from an acute malarial infection most likely contracted on his very first expedition in 1912 to Borneo and Celebes. (4)

Sources

    Library of Congress Name Authority File: no2004068139
    (1) Administration Record File
    (2) Smithsonian Institute- Henry Cushier Raven Field Journal, 1912-1914. SIA RU007178
    (3) Walder, Joyce, Kirsi Peltonen, Noora Ellonen, Helmer B. Larsen, and Karin Helweg-Larsen, “Reunion With a Childhood Bully, Taxidermied,” New York Times, last modified June 6, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/06/nyregion/06chimp.html?_r=2&.
    (4) “Brooklyn Daily Eagle Obituary,” CNN.com, last modified April 6, 1944 , http://fultonhistory.com/Newspaper%205/Brooklyn%20NY%20Daily%20Eagle/Brooklyn%20NY%20Daily%20Eagle%201944%20Grayscale/Brooklyn%20NY%20Daily%20Eagle%201944%20Grayscale%20-%201423.pdf.

Chronology

  • 1889 April 16: Born in Brooklyn, New York
  • 1907 - 1910: Assistant (taxidermist), Department of Preparation and Exhibition, American Museum of Natural History (2)
  • 1910 - 1912: Employed by the Colorado Museum of Natural History (3)
  • 1912 - 1917: Specimen Collector, Smithsonian Institution expedition to the East Indies (4)
  • 1912 February - 1915 July: South and East Borneo (Dutch East Indies)External link (Expedition Site) Raven took over William Louis Abbott's role as leader of the Smithsonian expedition to Borneo and Celebes
  • 1918: Student, Cornell University
  • 1918: Curator, Cornell University Zoology Museum
  • 1919 - 1920: AfricaExternal link (Expedition Site) Cape-to-Cairo expedition co-led by Raven and Homer Shantz. Organized by the Smithsonian and the American Commission to Negotiate Peace with the goal of establishing an inquiry into the crop producing possibilities of Africa. Created: a vegetation map of the areas traversed as well as identifying plant resources from the regions that could have potential use in future development in Africa or possible value to the United States. The crew also collected hundreds of seeds that could be grown in the United States for agricultural purposes. The photographic documentation served later as a valuable tool for tracking the changing vegetation of the African landscape.
  • 1919: Specimen Collector, Smithsonian Institution Cape-to-Cairo expedition
  • 1920: Attended Columbia University
  • 1921: Scientific Photographer and Museum Representative during expedition to Australia
  • 1923: Scientific Photographer and Museum Representative during expedition to Australia
  • 1924 - 1925: Assistant Curator, Department of Comparative and Human Anatomy
  • 1924 - 1926: Lecturer, New York University
  • 1926 - 1943: Associate Curator, Department of Comparative and Human Anatomy
  • 1926 - 1944: Faculty Assistant to William K. Gregory, Columbia University
  • 1929: Researcher, co-sponsored expedition (with Columbia University) to Central Africa to secure comparative anatomical and illustrative material; two specimens of Gorilla of the Kivo region and one specimen of Gorilla form the Cameroon were collected.
  • 1934 - 1935: Life-cast sculptor of indigenous peoples; Scientific photographer for the Vernay-Hopwood Chindwin Expedition to Upper Burma
  • 1936 - 1938: Laboratory Reseacher, Johns Hopkins University
  • 1941: Prosector, New York Zoological Park
  • 1941 January - 1941 February: Scientific photographer on the Lerner Expedition to Peru and Ecuador; Big Game Fish Expedition; Sixth Michael Lerner Expedition
  • 1944: Curator of Comparative Anatomy, American Museum of Natural History

Terms

localDescription
male
localDescription
enhanced
localDescription
affiliated person
place
South and East Borneo (Dutch East Indies)External link
(Expedition Site)

dates: 1912 February-1915 July

Raven took over William Louis Abbott's role as leader of the Smithsonian expedition to Borneo and Celebes
place
AfricaExternal link
(Expedition Site)

dates: 1919-1920

Cape-to-Cairo expedition co-led by Raven and Homer Shantz. Organized by the Smithsonian and the American Commission to Negotiate Peace with the goal of establishing an inquiry into the crop producing possibilities of Africa. Created: a vegetation map of the areas traversed as well as identifying plant resources from the regions that could have potential use in future development in Africa or possible value to the United States. The crew also collected hundreds of seeds that could be grown in the United States for agricultural purposes. The photographic documentation served later as a valuable tool for tracking the changing vegetation of the African landscape.
place
AustraliaExternal link
(Expedition Site)

Good will exchanges between Australian and American museums; Plans to create an Australian Hall in the AMNH
place
New ZealandExternal link
(Expedition Site)

Lerner New Zealand expedition aimed to secure big game fishes, photos, and other materials on the natural history of New Zealand and Australia
place
IndiaExternal link
(Expedition Site)
place
MalaysiaExternal link
(Expedition Site)
place
Peru External link
(Expedition Site)

This trip was filmed by AMNH curator of anatomy Henry Cushier Raven, whose main function on the trip was to do anatomical studies on the game fish (mostly swordfish and marlin) caught by the Lerners. In addition to game fish, Raven was able to film several marine mammals and a variety of shore and water birds. http://bit.ly/H0gH9v
place
EcuadorExternal link
(Expedition Site)

This trip was filmed by AMNH curator of anatomy Henry Cushier Raven, whose main function on the trip was to do anatomical studies on the game fish (mostly swordfish and marlin) caught by the Lerners. In addition to game fish, Raven was able to film several marine mammals and a variety of shore and water birds. http://bit.ly/H0gH9v
place
Greenland
(Expedition Site)

http://lccn.loc.gov/n79059221
place
Nova ScotiaExternal link
(Expedition Site)

To gather specimens and materials from the Tuna group and study swordfish and marlin
place
Brooklyn External link
(Place of Birth)
place
Long IslandExternal link
(Boyhood Home)
place
Baldwin, Long Island (New York, N.Y.)
(Adult Home)

Related Corporate, Personal, and Family Names

Abbott, William LouisExternal link
Raven took over for Abbott during his first expedition for the Smithsonian in 1912 to Borneo and Celebes
American Museum of Natural History
associated dates: 1944?

Department of Preparation, 1944?: Curator of Comparative Anatomy
Brewer, Charles
Research Associate
Coffin, G. J.
Sister
Colorado Museum of Natural HistoryExternal link
associated dates: 1910-1912
Columbia UniversityExternal link
associated dates: 1926-1944

Faculty Assistant to William K. Gregory
Cornell UniversityExternal link
Student, Curator
Gregory, William K.
Friend; Previous Employer; co-author
Meshie
Chimpanzee Raven brought back to his home in 1931 after his Africa expedition. Meshie is now preserved and on display in the American Museum of Natural History's Hall of Primates.
New York UniversityExternal link
associated dates: 1924-1926

Lecturer
New York Zoological ParkExternal link
Nichols, John Treadwell
co-author
Raven, E. J.
Brother
Raven, Henry
Son
Raven, Jane
Daughter
Raven, Mary
Daughter
Raven, Mary
Sister
Raven, Yvonne
Wife; nee- Aurousseau
Shantz, Homer LeRoy
co-leader on the Cape-to-Cairo Expedition
Smithsonian InstitutionExternal link
Vernay, Arthur Stannard
Sponsor of expeditions

Related Resources

creatorOf
Glass slides and prints
Creator: Henry Cushier Raven Repository: AMNH Department of Mammalogy, MAM 41 Note: Hypsiprymnodon (No Suggestions) glass slides and prints
creatorOf
Field photographs
Creator: Henry Cushier Raven Repository: AMNH Department of Mammalogy, MAM 44 Note: Field photographs and slides from expeditions to West Africa, Sierra Leone, Greenland and New South Wales
creatorOf
Staff photographs
Creator: Henry Cushier Raven Repository: AMNH Department of Mammalogy, MAM 48 Note: Department of Mammalogy staff photographs
creatorOf
Field books
Creator: Henry Cushier Raven Repository: AMNH Department of Mammalogy Note: Field books relating to expeditions to Australia, Greenland, and Madagascar; Field books relating to Anatomy of a Gorilla
creatorOf
Photographs, East Indies Expedition
Creator: Henry Cushier Raven Extent: approximately 391 prints Repository: AMNH Special Collections, drawer 189
creatorOf
Photographs, East Indies Expedition
Creator: Henry Cushier Raven Extent: 3 boxes Repository: AMNH Special Collections, PPC .R38 Note: Field Photographs, portraits, one photo print of Meshie
creatorOf
Photographs from the Gregory-Raven Australian Expedition
Creator: Henry Cushier Raven Extent: approximately 306 photographic prints Repository: AMNH Special Collections, PPC .G75 Note: Field photographs, series A. Australia Expedition, 1921-1922
creatorOf
Notebooks [microform], Archives.
associated dates: 1913-1944

Creator: Henry Cushier Raven Extent: 1 reel Repository: AMNH Special Collections, Microfilm #30
creatorOf
Glimpses of Australian natural history
Creator: Henry Cushier Raven Extent: 1 video recording Repository: AMNH Film Collection, no. 203 Note: Glimpses of Australian natural history (1939)
creatorOf
Peru to Ecuador
Creator: Henry Cushier Raven Extent: 1 video recording Repository: AMNH Film Collection, no. 205 Note: Peru to Ecuador (1941) (Henry C. Raven, photographer)
creatorOf
The Vernay-Hopwood Chindwin expedition
Creator: Henry Cushier Raven Extent: 1 video recording Repository: AMNH Film Collection, no. 285 Note: The Vernay-Hopwood Chindwin expedition (1935)
creatorOf
Meshie, child of a chimpanzee
Creator: Henry Cushier Raven Extent: 1 video recording Repository: AMNH Film Collection, no. 213 Note: Meshie, child of a chimpanzee (1932?)
subjectOf
Meshie
Creator: Henry Cushier Raven Extent: 1 video recording Repository: AMNH Film Collection, no. 38 Note: Meshie (1953) (part of the CBS/AMNH Adventure television series)
subjectOf
Men of Science
Creator: Henry Cushier Raven Extent: 1 video recording Repository: AMNH Film Collection, no. 212 Note: Men of Science (1938)
creatorOf
Henry Cushier Raven Field Journal
associated dates: 1912-1914

Creator: Henry Cushier Raven Extent: 1 Field journal Repository: Smithsonian Institution, SIA RU007178
creatorOf
Australia-Raven expedition
associated dates: 1921-1922

Creator: Henry Cushier Raven Extent: Field catalogue Repository: AMNH Department of Ornithology, spec no. 1-200, entries 200363-489 Note: First Australian Expedition of the AMNH Birds; Bound 27x20cm.
creatorOf
Lerner Australia-New Zealand Expedition Field photographs
associated dates: 1939-1940

Creator: Henry Cushier Raven Repository: New York State Historical Documents Note: Photographs documenting the field work of Michael Lerner and Henry C. Raven in Australia and New Zealand, including material collected from the New Zealand Tourist Bureau. Photographs show shoreline views and geological formations, birds, and fish including swordfish and marlin. Also, village and street scenes. Several specimens were also exhibited at the 1940 World's Fair in New York. Photographs were taken by Ludwig Ferraglio, Frank Ramsay, and Henry Cushier Raven. Copy photographs by Thane L. Bierwert and Charles H. Coles. Photographs are identified.
creatorOf
American Museum of Natural History-Columbia University Anatomical Expedition African biological field photographs
associated dates: 1929-1931

Creator: Henry Cushier Raven Repository: New York State Historical Documents Note: Photographs of zoological specimens collected, expedition events, tribal life, and expedition members including scientist and photographer Henry Cushier Raven, and scientists James Howard McGregor, William King Gregory, and Earl T. Engle. Locales include Zaire (the Belgian Congo), West Africa, Cameroon, Lake Kivu and Chilinda.
creatorOf
American Museum of Natural History Greenland Expedition Mammalogical field photographs
Creator: Henry Cushier Raven Repository: New York State Historical Documents Note: Photographs documenting fieldwork including field portraits of Eskimos and expedition members; and polar bears and walrus. Locations include Cape York, Holstenborg, Baffin Bay, and Upernivik.
subjectOf
Confluences: An American Expedition to Northern Burma
associated dates: 2013 April 4-2013 August 3

Creator: Bard Graduate Center Note: From April 4 to August 3, 2013, the Bard Graduate Center presented this exhibition (and corresponding publication) curated by Erin Hasinoff.

Written by: Janine Veazue
Last modified: 2019 August 7


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