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Andrews, Roy Chapman, 1884-1960




Roy Chapman Andrews was an explorer, paleontologist, and a well-known figure at the American Museum of Natural History.

1884 January 26
Born in Beloit, Wisconsin
Began employment at the American Museum of Natural History
Assistant in Department of Mammalogy and Ornithology
Alaskan Expedition
Canadian Field trip
Philippine Expedition
Became Assistant in Department of Mammalogy
Japanese Whaling Expedition
Assistant Curator of Mammalogy
Andrews Whaling Expedition to Korea, Japan, Korea
Borden Expedition
Graduated Columbia University with MA in Mammalogy
Married Yvette Borup
First Asiatic Zoological Expedition, China
Son George Borup Andrews born
Assistant Curator of Mammals Eastern Hemisphere
Second Asiatic Zoological Expedition, Mongolia
Third (Central) Asiatic Expedition, Mongolia
Curator in chief of Division IV, Asiatic Exploration and Research (Title Changed to Curator in Department of Asiatic Exploration and Research)
Son Roy Kevin Andrews born
Given honorary Sc.D. From Brown University
Given honorary Sc.D. From Beloit College
Divorced Yvette Borup
Vice-Director in Charge of Exploration and Research in the Administrative and Scientific Branches of the Museum
1934 March - 1934 December
Acting Director of the Museum
Married Wilhelmina Christmas
Director of the Museum
1941 December 31
Resigned as Director of the American Museum of Natural History
1960 March 11
Died in Carmel, California

Biographical Note

Roy Chapman Andrews was born in Beloit, Wisconsin on January 26, 1884 to Cora Chapman and Charles Ezra Andrews, he enjoyed hunting and the study of nature. He taught himself taxidermy and, being the only taxidermist in the Beloit area, provided preparation and mounting services for local hunters. (1) After graduating from Beloit College in 1906 with a B.A., Andrews sought a career at AMNH, but there were no positions available. He volunteered to work at the museum as a janitor and assistant to James L. Clark and was hired July 16, 1906. His taxidermy skills were quickly recognized and by 1908 he was able to convince the AMNH director, H.C. Bumpus to allow him to collect specimens in the field. (2)

From 1910 to 1914 Chapman went on expeditions to Alaska, Japan and Korea, including an expedition from 1909-1910 as a Special Naturalist on the U.S.S. Albatross on a voyage to Dutch East Indies, Borneo, and Celebes. From 1911 to 1917 he was the assistant curator of Mammalogy and during that time he continued his education at Columbia University. Andrews earned his Master of Arts in Mammalogy in 1913. That year he was also member of the Borden Alaska Expedition as leader and photographer. From 1918 to 1923 he became the assistant curator of Mammals Eastern Hemisphere.

Andrews’ is most famous for his three Asiatic Zoological Expeditions. In both 1916 and 1918 he led short scientific collecting expeditions into regions of China and the Gobi Desert. These would prove to be preparatory for the third and largest expedition which occurred from 1921 to 1930 and explored the Gobi Desert of Mongolia and China in depth. The name was changed in 1926 to the Central Asiatic Expeditions, and this name is generally used collectively for all Andrews’ Asiatic work. During this time he was appointed Curator-in-chief of Division IV, Asiatic Explorations and Research (the title changed to Curator in Dept. of Asiatic Exploration and Research). These expeditions produced major discoveries, including skeletons of the extinct rhinoceros Indricotherium (originally named Baluchitherium), the oldest and largest land mammals known at that time; and the first recognized finding of dinosaur eggs. (3) Andrews' first wife, Yvette Borup, traveled with him and photographed many of his early expeditions. In 1931 Andrews was named Vice-Director in charge of Exploration and research in the Administrative and Scientific branches of the Museum. In March 1934, when his friend and colleague Dr. Sherwood became ill and could no longer continue as director for the Museum, Andrews was named Acting Director. The title was officially changed to Director of the museum in 1935. Andrews served as the director until his resignation in 1941.

Along with his travels, Chapman gave hundreds for lectures, was the member of numerous scientific societies, and was presented with several awards for his achievements in the scientific community. September 5, 1935 Chapman was awarded the first significant Sig Medal ever awarded by Sigma Chi Fraternity. That same year on November 26th he was awarded the Charles P. Daly Medal for the year 1935 by the American Geographical Society. Chapman wrote several books including two autobiographies “Under a Lucky Star” and “An Explorer Comes Home” and many articles. Andrews married Yvette Borup in 1914. With Yvette he had two sons, George Borup and Roy Kevin. They divorced in 1931 and Chapman remarried to Wilhelmina “Billie” Christmas February 21, 1935. Chapman died March 11, 1960 in Carmel, California.


(1) Charles Gallenkamp, Dragon Hunter: Roy Chapman Andrews and the Central Asiatic Expeditions. (New York: Viking, 2001), 8

(2) Roy Chapman Andrews, Under a lucky star, a lifetime of adventure. (New York: The Viking Press, 1943).

(3) D.R. Barton, "Gambler on the Gobi: The Story of Roy Chapman Andrews," Natural History 45, No. 2 (1940): 120.


Found in 30 Collections and/or Records:

American Museum of Natural History financial records, 1869-1946.

Identifier: DR 028

Papers, including some related to Roy Chapman Andrews. Correspondence, ledgers, general cash books, field fund accounts, budgets, African Hall funds, pension fund accounts (1913-1918).

Dates: 1869 - 1946

American Museum of Natural History photographic slides of Fine Art collection

Identifier: PSC 46
Scope and Contents Slides of fine art sculptures and paintings held in the American Museum of Natural History. Artwork includes Andy Warhol "Endangered Species" (1983) silkscreens, De Lazslo portrait (1908) of Theodore Roosevelt, Roy Chapman Andrews portrait by Charles Arthur Rose (1937), Williams C. Whitney bust"Moquin Prayer for Rain" sculpture by H. A. MacNeill"Theodore Roosevelt as a Rough Rider" by Frederick MacMonnies, portraits of Childs Frick, Morris K. Jesup and others. Three watercolors by Louis...
Dates: circa 1980s-1990s

Roy Chapman Andrews papers, 1987 Accession

Identifier: Mss .A54
Scope and Contents The bulk of the collection consists of Andrews' correspondence, manuscripts, and transcripts of Andrews' broadcasts and talks from 1934 to1944. It also contains one folder of family and biographical documents and newspaper clippings received from Charles Gallenkamp, Andrews' biographer, in 1990. The majority of the administrative papers' correspondence concerns requests for speaking engagements about Andrews' explorations, requests for articles, and letters from the public and from companies...
Dates: 1920-1947; Majority of material found within 1934-1944

Second Asiatic Expedition field photographs

Identifier: PPC .A852
Content Description

500 black and white photographic prints mounted on cards with captions on verso.

Dates: 1918-1919

Barnum Brown papers

Identifier: VPA 114
Scope and Contents

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.

Dates: 1877-1963

Frederick B. Butler collection on the 1925 field season of the Third Asiatic Expedition

Identifier: Mss .B88
Scope and Contents This collection contains field notes written by Butler during the 1925 field season (April 11-August 20) of the Third Asiatic Expedition. It also contains a typed diary detailing his experiences in Mongolia and discussing expedition staff members. Correspondences include letters to and from Butler and his wife in Tianjin (Tientsin), China, and official correspondences. Also included are various lectures ("Speech to the Algonquin Club. Boston, Dec. 7, 1926"; "Expedition lecture with...
Dates: 1924-1927; Majority of material found within 1925-1926

The Central Asiatic Expeditions : fauna

Identifier: Film Collection no. 146
Scope and Contents Filmed during the AMNH Third Asiatic Expedition to China and Mongolia, 1921-1930. The expedition collected zoological specimens throughout Mongolia, but the main collecting was done in the Gobi Desert. This film shows some of the animals that were collected for scientific purposes, as well as those kept as pets. The animals collected includes swans, nightjars, ruddy shelducks, grebes, ducks, gazelles, wild asses, and jerboas. Next are seen the animals "kept" by members of the expedition: an...
Dates: [1921-1930]

Central Asiatic Expeditions : fossils and artifacts

Identifier: Film Collection no. 147
Scope and Contents Filmed during the AMNH Third Asiatic Expedition to China and Mongolia, 1921-1930. The film records the paleontological finds of the expedition. The most important is shown first: the discovery of the "perfect dozen" nest of dinosaur eggs by George Olsen, paleontologist, at the Flaming Cliffs of Shabarakh Usu in the Gobi Desert. Bones of Baluchitherium, one of the largest land mammals, a hornless relative of today's rhinoceros, and Embolitherium, an Oligocene mammal, are also seen being...
Dates: 1925