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Rand, Austin Loomer, 1905-1982



  • Existence: 1905 December 16 - 1982 January 6


Austin Loomer Rand born in Kentville, Nova Scotia.
Rand receives B.S. degree from Acadia University.
He begins his studies at Cornell and becomes Assistant Ornithologist at the university.
Rand joins an expedition to Madagascar where he meets Richard Archbold, James C. Greenway and Jean Delacour.
He marries Rheua Medden.
Rand's dissertation from Cornell on the ornithological results of the Madagascar Expedition are published in the Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History.
Rand's first child with Rheua is born, A. Stanley Rand, who would become a Herpetologist with the Smithsonian. His other son, William Medden Rand, was born shortly after, and became a statistician with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Rand joins the First Expedition to Papua New Guinea sponsored by Richard Archbold and AMNH.
He becomes a Research Associate at AMNH in the Department of Ornithology.
Rand joins the Second Expedition to Papua New Guinea sponsored by Richard Archbold and AMNH.
Rand joins the Third Expedition to Papua New Guinea sponsored by Richard Archbold and AMNH.
Rand assists Archbold in establishing the Archbold Biological Station, and continues research locally.
Rand leaves the Archbold Biological Station for an Assistant Zoologist position at the National Museum of Canada (NMC).
Rand travels to the Alaskan highway and Canol Road (Yukon) to study flora and fauna.
Rand is promoted to Associate Zoologist of NMC.
Rand is promoted to Acting Chief of the Biological Division of NMC.
Rand moves to the U.S. to become the Curator of Birds at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.
Rand is promoted to Chief Curator of Zoology.
He receives an honorary doctorate from Acadia University.
Rand becomes the President of the American Ornithologist's Union (AOU).
Rand retires and moves to Lake Placid in order to be close to the Archbold Biological Station.
Rand begins to write a weekly nature column for the Lake Placid Journal.
He is given the positions of research associate and trustee at the Archbold Biological Station.
Austin Loomer Rand dies and is survived by his wife and two children.

Biographical note

Rand began his ornithological education at Acadia College in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, where he received his Bachelors of Science in 1927 (2, p. 658). He moved to the U.S. to attend Cornell University and became an Ornithological Assistant to Arthur A. Allen, his professor. Allen suggested Rand as a replacement for the late C. G. Harold on AMNH’s expedition to Madagascar (Mission zoologique franco-anglo-américaine à Madagascar). Rand and expedition leader M. Jean Delacour collected over 8000 birds for AMNH. The ornithological results of the expedition became Rand’s inspiration for his PhD thesis, completed in 1932 (1, p. 600). Rand also met Richard Archbold during the Madagascar Expedition, this relationship leading to collaborative work on the first three Archbold Expeditions to New Guinea (3, p. 25). These expeditions would prove incredibly significant for AMNH, with Rand participating in and eventually leading the research and specimen collection during the expeditions. On the 2nd Expedition Rand and Archbold collected over “3500 birds representing 300 species” (4, p. 534). Rand was second in command on the 3rd Archbold Expedition, made famous for its use of new expedition technologies and landmark research. This expedition is well documented and Rand’s article, “Flying Birdmen” from Natural History Magazine provides an overview of the extensive field research and planning Rand engaged in (5, p. 137). Between the Archbold Expeditions, Rand was a Research Associate for AMNH, where he completed taxonomic work on the thousands of birds he collected. He also “wrote fauna, behavior and life history reports, chiefly on birds, some on mammals” (6, p. 1). In 1941 Rand accompanied Archbold to Lake Placid, Florida where the two established the Archbold Biological Station. He accepted a position as an Assistant Zoologist for the National Museum of Canada (NMC) and conducted field studies on birds and mammals along the newly built Alaskan Highway and along the Canol Road in Canada’s Yukon Territory. Within 4 years Rand received two promotions, becoming the Acting Chief of the Biological Division of NMC till 1947 (1, p. 600-602). In July 1947 Rand moved to the United States to accept a position as the Curator of Birds at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago (7, p. 1). By 1955, Rand was made the Chief Curator of Zoology, a position he remained in till his retirement in 1970. He also received an honorary doctorate from Acadia University and became highly involved in the American Ornithologist’s Union (AOU), acting as President of the professional organization from 1962-1964 (2, p. 658). By 1970, Rand moved to Lake Placid, Florida where Rand remained highly active in ornithological circles, continuing research and writing till his death in 1982 (1, p. 602). Some of his notable writing includes, “Stray Feathers from a Bird Man’s Desk”, “American Water and Game Birds”, and ''A Midwestern Almanac: Pageant of the Seasons'' (which he wrote with his wife) as well as contributions to Encyclopedia Britannica and National Geographic. (7, p. 1).

SOURCES (1) Melvin A Traylor, Dean Amadon, W. Earl Godfrey. 1984. "In Memoriam: Austin L. Rand". Auk, vol. 101: 600-02.

(2) Keir Brooks Sterling. 1997. Biographical Dictionary of American and Canadian Naturalists and Environmentalist. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press.

(4) "Science in the Field and in the Laboratory--Birds from New Guinea". Natural History Magazine, vol. 39 (September 1937) 534.

(5) Rand, Austin Loomer. 1940. "Flying Birdmen". v. 46, no. 3. New York: American Museum of Natural History.

(6) Rand, Austin Loomer. 1944. "A.L. Rand, 1905-" Vertical file biography, AMNH.

(7) Wolfgang Saxon. 1982. "Austin L. Rand, 76, Zoologist, Explorer and Writer on Birds". New York Times. January 26, 2018.


  • Madagascar (Other) -- Date: 1929 - 1931
    • Note: Expedition where Rand meets Archbold and builds research for dissertation.
  • New Guinea (Other) -- Date: 1933 - 1939
    • Note: Expeditions sponsored by Archbold where Rand continued ornithological research and specimen collection for AMNH.
  • Chicago (Ill.) (Other) -- Date: 1947 - 1964
    • Note: Location of the Field Museum, where Rand worked for almost 20 years.
  • Kentville (Place of Birth) -- Date: 1905    
    • Note: Rand was born in Kentville, Nova Scotia.
  • Wolfville (Other) -- Date: 1923 - 1927
    • Note: Rand lived in Wolfville as a child, and received his Bachelor's from the local college, Acadia University.
  • Ithaca (Other) -- Date: 1927 - 1929
    • Note: Rand receives Masters and P.H.D. from Cornell University.
  • Lake Placid (Other) -- Date: 1941 - 1942 -- Date: 1970 - 1982
    • Note: Florida; Location of the Archbold Biological Station where Rand worked.
  • Ottawa (Other) -- Date: 1942 - 1947
    • Note: Rand worked for the National Museum of Canada (NMC).
  • Yukon Territory (Other) -- Date: 1943    
    • Note: Expedition Rand attended while working for the NMC.


Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

The Archbold Collections at the American Museum of Natural History, 1928-1980.

Identifier: Archive Mammalogy Archbold
Scope and Contents The Archbold Collections at the American Museum of Natural History is comprised of material that documents the expeditionary fieldwork of Richard Archbold and the Archbold Expeditions. It is housed within the AMNH Department of Mammalogy Archive, and encompasses a variety of formats, including photographs, slides, film, scrapbooks, correspondence, financial records, and field documentation such as catalogs, specimen lists, field notes and journals. These describe both the day-to-day...
Dates: 1928 - 1980; Majority of material found within 1930 - 1964