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Allen, J. A. (Joel Asaph), 1838-1921



  • Existence: 1838-07-19 - 1921-08-30


Joel Asaph Allen was a museum curator, ornithologist, zoologist, taxonomist and writer. He was curator in the American Museum of Natural History's Dept. of Mammalogy and Ornithology, 1885-1920. Allen began collecting and classifying birds at the age of 13. He studied at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ) and became a staff member in 1871, meanwhile participating in the 1865-1866 Thayer Expedition to Brazil, on which he collected bird and mammal skins, geological specimens, fishes, reptiles and other vertebrates. Allen also participated in several U.S. expeditions, collecting, surveying and making scientific observations. At the AMNH, Allen increasingly concentrated his attention on acquisitions, research and writing, and editorial work, cataloging thousands of specimens of birds and mammals in the museum's collections and providing editorial supervision for the Bulletin of the AMNH and the Memoirs of the AMNH. He was the first president of the American Ornithologists' Union for seven years from its formation in 1883, and was editor of The Auk for 27 years.


Found in 8 Collections and/or Records:

Benchmark showing latitude, longitude and altitude of museum, 1911-1913

 File — Box: 1, Folder: 13
Identifier: Mss .H682
Scope and Contents

Primarily correspondence between E. O. Hovey and museum administrators, U. S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, U. S. Geological Survey, and New York City Board of Estimate and Apportionment, regarding design of a benchmark indicating latitude, longitude, and elevation of a point on museum grounds. Also contains sketches of proposed benchmark. Contains "Index to Letters" (1 p.).

Dates: 1911-1913

Joel Asaph Allen (1838-1921) / S Bottom "T. Spicer Simson"

Identifier: Art Survey No. 178
Scope and Contents

Round relief with head and shoulders facing left. Curator of Mammalogy and Ornithology 1885-1921. Inscription: On front "J.A. Allen". Frame: Wood frame.


Good (1).

Dates: 1920

Joel Asaph Allen papers

Identifier: Archives Orn196
Scope and Contents

Correspondence created with the use of letter copying book.

Dates: 1885-1908

Joseph Asaph Allen correspondence, 1870-1919

Identifier: Mss .A451-.A452
Dates: Majority of material found within ( 1899-1902)

George Newbold Lawrence correspondence

Identifier: Mss .L39
Scope and Contents The George Newbold Lawrence Correspondence collection consists almost completely of handwritten, signed letters received by Lawrence from other ornithologists and naturalists from the United States and Europe discussing the classification of birds and the exchange of bird skins. Some of the folders contain drafts or copies of Lawrence's replies. While there is a small number of official letters from institutions, almost all of the letters are from individuals. In addition to 228 documents...
Dates: 1847-1894; Majority of material found within 1865-1894

Edgar A. Mearns correspondence, 1883-1915

Identifier: Mss .M43
Scope and Contents

The collection consists entirely of photocopies of handwritten letters. The first letter, dated May 17, 1883, is from Albert S. Bickmore, founder and superintendent of the AMNH, concerning Mearns's proposed donation of a collection of birds. The second letter is from curator J.A. Allen, discussing details of the specimens. Other correspondents include James P. Chapin, Frank M. Chapman, L.P. Gratacap, C. Hart Merriam, Jenness Richardson and Anthony Woodward.

Dates: 1883-1915

Museum matters, 1911-1912

 File — Box: 1, Folder: 15
Identifier: Mss .H682
Scope and Contents

Primarily correspondence between E. O. Hovey and museum administrators on various museum matters, including Hovey's acceptance of the position of Acting Director of the museum. Contains "Index to Letters" (1 p.).

Dates: 1911-1912

Nuttall Ornithological Club photographs of ornithologists and other scientists

Identifier: PPC .N87
Scope and Contents

Portraits of scientits that were used in the following publications: Origins and Development of North American Avian Biogeography, p. 392; Contributions to the History of North American Ornithology, pp.387-428.

Dates: 1995?

Additional filters:

Collection 6
Archival Object 2
Manuscript Collection 3
Ornithologists -- United States -- Correspondence 3
Birds -- Classification 2
Birds -- Collection and preservation 2
Zoologists -- United States -- Correspondence 2