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Simpson, George Gaylord, 1902-1984


Biographical Note

George Gaylord Simpson (1902-1984) was Curator of the Department of Geology and Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History from 1945 to 1959. He first joined the staff in 1927, but left to serve in World War II in North Africa. Simpson became curator upon his return. Before this appointment, he earned his PhD in Geology from Yale and served as a Professor of Zoology at Columbia University. After his time at the American Museum of Natural History, Simpson was Curator of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University from 1959 to 1970 and a Professor of Geosciences at the University of Arizona from 1968 until he retired in 1982.

Simpson was a major participant in the modern synthesis—a movement in the 20th century that combined Darwinian and Mendelian philosophies regarding evolution. His work primarily concerned evolutionary theory and the intercontinental migrations of extinct mammals. Simpson’s most prominent works were Tempo and Mode in Evolution, which was published in 1944, and Major Features in Evolution, published in 1953.

Selected Bibliography

Simpson, George Gaylord. Attending Marvels: A Patagonian Journal. 1931.

Simpson, George Gaylord. Quantitative Zoology. McGraw-Hill, 1939.

Simpson, George Gaylord. Tempo and Mode in Evolution. 1944.

Simpson, George Gaylord. The Principles of Classification and A Classification of Mammals. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1945.

Simpson, George Gaylord. The Meaning of Evolution. Mentor, 1951.

Simpson, George Gaylord. Horses. Oxford University Press, 1951.

Simpson, George Gaylord. Evolution and Geography. 1953.

Simpson, George Gaylord. The Major Features of Evolution. New York City: Columbia University Press, 1953.

Simpson, George Gaylord. Life: An Introduction to Biology. Harcourt, Brace & World, 1957.

Simpson, George Gaylord. Quantitative Zoology. Harcourt, Brace & World, 1960.

Simpson, George Gaylord. Principles of Animal Taxonomy. New York City: Columbia University Press, 1961.

Simpson, George Gaylord. This View of Life. Harcourt, Brace & World, 1964.

Simpson, George Gaylord. The Geography of Evolution. Chilton Books, 1965.

Simpson, George Gaylord. Penguins: Past and Present, Here and There. Yale University Press, 1976.

Simpson, George Gaylord. Concession to the Improbable: An Unconventional Autobiography. Yale University Press, 1978.

Simpson, George Gaylord. Fossils and the History Of Life. Scientific American Books, 1983.

Simpson, George Gaylord. Splendid Isolation: ​​The Curious History of South American Mammals by George Gaylord Simpson. Yale University Press, 1980.

Simpson, George Gaylord. The Dechronization of Sam Magruder. St. Martins Press, 1996.


George Gaylord Simpson, Wikipedia.

Found in 10 Collections and/or Records:

Central Asiatic Expeditions records

Identifier: Mss .C446
Scope and Contents This collection is a record of the Museum’s explorations undertaken during the 1920s in the Gobi Desert under the leadership of Roy Chapman Andrews. A list of the men who participated in the CAE can be culled from the expeditions’ letterheads used by museum personnel in New York. All but three of the men cited on these letterheads are represented here. Those not found are Mont Reid, a physician, James Wang, an interpreter and G. Horwath of motor transport. The variety of other correspondents...
Dates: 1916-1940; Majority of material found within 1921-1933

Department of Vertebrate Paleontology correspondence

Identifier: VPA 105
Scope and Contents Department of Vertebrate Paleontology correspondence from 1887-1966, alphabetized by subject or author. Hundreds of scientists worldwide are represented by correspondence and include Alexander Agassiz, Glover M. Allen, Florentino Ameghino, Erwin H. Barbour, Franz Boas, Stephen F. Borhegyi, Robert Broom, Barnum Brown, Hermon C. Bumpus, Edwin H. Colbert, Thomas Alva Edison, Walter Granger, William T. Gregory, Claude W. Hibbard, D.A. Hooijer, William T. Hornaday, Remington Kellogg, Charles R....
Dates: 1887-1966

Gaylord Simpson photographic slide collection, 1947.

Identifier: PSC 441

Photographs taken in the United States Southwest, mostly New Mexico. Images include fossilized plants, petrified wood, sand dunes, and Nemez Indians branding calves and at a 4th of July rodeo.

Dates: 1947

William King Gregory papers, 1889-1948 (bulk 1906-1948)

Identifier: Mss .G7441
Scope and Contents The collection consists of administrative, scientific, academic and personal papers, and correspondence. Papers include Gregory's general correspondence with universities, colleges and scientists about his research topics and publications; correspondence with museums about purchasing replicas of fossils; and with students seeking employement. Other papers include lecture notes prepared for zoology classes emphasizing evolution, 1925-1926 and 1939; and manuscripts and notes for his...
Dates: 1889-1948; Majority of material found within 1906-1948

Rams of the rimrock ; Brontosaurus ; Trance and dance in Bali

Identifier: Film Collection no. 27
Scope and Contents SEGMENT 1: Rams of the Rimrock. Harold E. Anthony, AMNH mammalogist, introduces the first segment of this program while standing in front of the bighorn sheep diorama in the museum's Hall of North American Mammals and discusses the courtship behavior of the rams. This film, made by naturalist and AMNH lecturer Cleveland Grant, depicts the animals in head-on collisions fighting for mates. These rams have been known to fight for days over one female. SEGMENT 2: Brontosaurus. Shot in the Hall...
Dates: 1953

Series 1: Correspondence , 1892-1947

Scope and Contents

Series 1 (Boxes 1 to 6) contain Osborn’s correspondence, both general and relating to specific publications including “Age of Mammals” 2nd edition, “Ape Man,” and “Men of the Old Stone Age.” This series also contains accession information for the entire Henry Fairfield Osborn Papers collection. Most materials are in English, but there is also some correspondence in German. It is arranged alphabetically and thematically, then chronologically.

Dates: 1892-1947

Series 1: Field diaries, 1891-1998

Identifier: VPA 101
Scope and Contents

Consist of diaries, lists of specimens found, locations of finds, records of day to day activities, and step by step findings. Individual lists can be found with both the Charles H. Falkenbach and Ted Galusha Papers. The diaries are arranged by date and filed as nearly as possible in chronological order. Notable names in the field diaries include H. F. Osborn, Walter Granger, Barnum Brown, and G. G. Simpson.

Dates: 1891-1998

Series 2: Field correspondence, 1891-1969

Identifier: VPA 101
Scope and Contents

The field correspondence was written by field workers relaying events during excavations and expeditions. The collection includes department field communications from 1891 to 1969. The years 1960, 1962-1968 are missing.

Notable names in the field correspondence include Henry Fairfield Osborn, Walter Granger, Barnum Brown, Ted Galusha, Charles Falkenbach, and G. G. Simpson.

Dates: 1891-1969

Series 2: Professional Correspondence, 1896 - 1942

Scope and Contents

The professional correspondence includes letters between Brown and other paleontologists both within AMNH and elsewhere. It also contains correspondence regarding Brown's lecture tours and his application for copyright. There are also some letters from the public with paleontological enquiries.

Dates: 1896 - 1942

Series 2: Published Papers & Unpublished Manuscripts, 1870 - 1945

Scope and Contents Series 2 (Boxes 6 to 21) contains materials related to Osborn’s published papers, articles, and unpublished manuscripts, including substantial works like “Age of Mammals” and his Titanotheres monograph, as well as other writings on horses, Proboscidea, evolution, fauna, flora, vertebrate paleontology, and other subjects. Materials include notes, addresses given or written by Osborn, revisions, correspondence, illustrations, photographs, notebooks, and more. It is arranged alphabetically,...
Dates: 1870 - 1945