Light and Darkness in a Tropical Forest, 1927
Scope and Contents
The items in this collection reflect much of Henry Cushier Raven’s species data research from approximately 1920-1944. The collection consists of handwritten and typed notes and research; hand-drawn illustrations of animals and their dissections; photographs of specimens and expedition sites; and manuscript drafts associated with his various essays, articles, and scholarly publications. Research and illustrations on various whale species, land mammals, and Raven’s data from his Australia/ New Zealand expeditions are included. Also included are various book and film reviews, as well as several transcripts of radio broadcasts which featured Raven as a guest. Most notable items include his detailed illustrations on dissections, his photographs of expedition sites, and a small Mesoplodon pelvic bone.
The field notebook in box 5 records Raven’s planning and notes en-route during the American Museum of Natural History/Columbia University, AMNH Expedition to Central Africa. Similar to other expeditions he joined, Raven’s scientific activities were varied and numerous, ranging from casting plaster life masks, taking specimen and native tribal photographs, and collecting physical specimens for preservation and museum display. The contents of this notebook begin with several pages of contact information for personal letters and specimen shipments as well as a detailed expedition timetable and hand-drawn monthly calendars for reference. Raven hand-wrote several glossaries of common native terms into English (as well as one including the native terms for complex diseases such as tuberculosis), to which he check marked several terms- either those he used often, or those he had learned fully. The journal’s back cover has several b/w expedition photographs pasted on the inside. One of these photographs is of a small child with the name Marthe written underneath. This same name is written in script several times on the last page of the journal; once by a confident hand (possibly Raven), and another, presumably by the young girl herself. Many of Raven’s daily diary entries revolve around the tracking and gathering of gorilla specimens which was Raven’s priority mission on the expedition. The research, specimens, photographs, and illustrations from this expedition would later be used to produce the seminal 1950 publication of “The Anatomy of the Gorilla.” One page of the journal, which itemizes crates of ‘takeaway luggage,’ is of interest: at the end of the list, added most likely in haste, he writes, ‘1 box live chimp.’ This live chimp may well be better known to the Western world as Meshie.
Access Conditions and Restrictions
Please contact Special Collections; materials are sometimes restricted.
From the Collection: 2 Linear Feet (5 boxes)
Language of Materials
From the Collection: English
Part of the Museum Archives at the Gottesman Research Library Repository
American Museum of Natural History
200 Central Park West
New York NY 10024 USA