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

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Exist Dates

July 19, 1838 - August 30, 1921

Biographical or Historical Note

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.


    Library of Congress Name Authority File: n50036582
    From biographical note for Allen's archive collection at the AMNH Library, Mss .A451-.A452, written by Ann Herendeen.



Written by: Iris Lee
Last modified: 2020 November 18


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