Osborn, Henry Fairfield, 1857-1935
- Existence: 1857-08-08 - 1935-11-06
Henry Fairfield Osborn was a paleontologist, museum curator and administrator at the American Museum of Natural History. His 45-year career at the museum established it as a leading institution of research and scholarship in the fields of paleontology and evolution. Osborn's interest in paleontology, atypically for his time, derived as much from biology as from geology; in his undergraduate and graduate studies, he concentrated on biology, anatomy, embryology and neurology. In 1891, Osborn began his tenure at the AMNH by organizing and heading the new department of mammalian paleontology, while simultaneously accepting a similar position in biology at Columbia University. The AMNH department, which was eventually renamed vertebrate paleontology, was definitive in the museum's research and mission: the study and teaching of evolution. Osborn began his administrative work in 1899, becoming president in 1908, a position he held for twenty-five years. His strength was in leadership and education rather than empirical science; under his guidance, the museum expanded greatly in physical space and endowment, scientific staff, research and public education. Like his predecessor Albert S. Bickmore, Osborn recognized the need to combine information with entertainment. He popularized paleontology by ensuring that the museum's exhibits did not merely display the researchers' work, but also explained it in an attractive and accessible manner. Osborn, like so many of his contemporaries, was a prolific writer. His attempt to research and publish a definitive record of all the fossil mammals of North America was wildly overambitious, but by the time of his death he had completed substantial works on Equidae, titanotheres, rhinoceroses and Proboscidea, as well as on sauropod dinosaurs; his total publications number 940 (books, monographs, articles and papers), about half devoted to vertebrate paleontology.
Citation:From biographical note for Osborn's archive collection at the AMNH Library, Mss .O835, written by Ann Herendeen.
Found in 52 Collections and/or Records:
Contains five binders of presidential memos written by then President of the American Museum of Natural History, Henry Fairfield Osborn, to the Museum Director between the years of 1928 to 1934.
Wrapped album combines several different reports related to proposed new AMNH buildings, including quarterly report from 1916 and oral report of President Henry Fairfield Osborn to the Trustees from 1916, AMNH annual meeting regarding the Museum's need for new construction. Also includes reprinting of an editorial article from the New York Times regarding this proposal, as well as editorials from the New York Sun, New York World, and Evening Post.
Correspondence among Hovey, Chester A. Reeds, and Henry Fairfield Osborn regarding appointment of Dr. Reeds as Associate Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology.
The collection consists of Brown's correspondence, notes, images and maps relating to his field work, papers of his second wife, Lilian Brown, drafts of unfinished autobiography, notes and illustrations for his scientific articles, records of his work for the museum, including exhibition halls, records of his commercial work as well as reports from his consulting work for the goverment. The collection also contains papers of Peter Kaisen who was a long-term Brown's assistant.
Primarily correspondence among E. O. Hovey, Chester Reeds, and museum administrators regarding budgets for the Department of Geology. Also includes handwritten budgets and notes.
Chinese painting in celebration of the year of the horse, presented to Prof. Osborn by Dr. Bashford Dean. It was once one continuous strip; it was cut, mounted and framed for Osborn Library ca. 1944.
Originally one painting cut into 8 pieces and framed. Each strip shows different scenes of horses in herds, standing, running, squatting; one is of deity sitting on clouds; clouds and horses around him.