Hamlin, Hannibal, d. 1982

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Exist Dates

1904 - 1982 June 28

Biographical or Historical Note

HANNIBAL HAMLIN was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1904 to Hattie Hamlin (née Bennion) and Cyrus Hamlin. He had two sisters, Sally Cworowsky (née Hamlin) and Eleanor Vendig (née Hamlin).

Hannibal Hamlin was an American neurosurgeon who traveled with the Whitney South Sea Expedition beginning in 1927. After original leader Rollo Beck retired, Hamlin was appointed leader of the expedition from March 1928 until January 1930. He left the project in August 1930. The AMNH Whitney South Sea Expedition was an ornithological expedition originated by Dr. Leonard C. Sanford and funded by Harry Payne Whitney, with the mission of systematically exploring Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia for previously undiscovered or little-known bird specimens. It was the largest ornithological expedition ever conceived. Active field research was conducted from 1920 to 1941. Hamlin joined the WSSE team with Guy Richards after F.P. Drowne, who had only been a member for several months, fell ill and extra support for the group was required.

Hamlin was the great-grandson of Hannibal Hamlin, Vice President under Abraham Lincoln from 1861 to 1865. Dr. Hamlin joined the WSSE shortly after graduating Yale University in 1927. After returning to America, Hamlin attended Yale Medical School, graduating in 1936. He joined the Massachusetts General Hospital Neurosurgical Service in 1937. During World War II he served with the US Navy as a surgeon in the South Pacific. He remained affiliated with MGH until his death, being named honorary neurosurgeon upon retirement in 1979. His research focused on electroactivity of the human brain and, along with Dr. Oskar Hirsch, developed a new method of pituitary gland surgery.

Hamlin was married to Margaret Beck Hamlin. They had three children: Ellen V. Reynolds, Prof. Cyrus Hamlin and Dr. Charles Hamlin. Hannibal Hamlin died on June 28, 1982 in Boston, MA from cancer at the age of 78.


    “Dr. Hannibal Hamlin, Former Neurosurgeon.” The New York Times (New York, NY), June 29, 1982. http://www.nytimes.com/1982/06/29/obituaries/dr-hannibal-hamlin-former-neurosurgeon.html.
    AMNH 1982 Bulletin. Hamlin, Hannibal vertical file. AMNH Research Library.



Written by: Cara Shatzman
Last modified: 2016 November 3


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