Kalbfleisch Field Research Station collection
Scope and Content note
This collection contains a wide variety of documents related to the Museum’s acquisition and operation of the Kalbfleisch Field Research Station in Huntington, Long Island, which span from 1937, when Ms. Kalbfleisch began pursuing her wish to bequeath the estate, through 1982 when the Museum finally sold the property. The collection provides a comprehensive history of the Station by featuring information related to all aspects of its existence, including: correspondence, memos, legal documents, photographs and negatives, newspaper clippings, publications, and scientific data reports.
There are five series in this collection:
Series I: Research Documents - Studies and Findings, 1954-2003
Series II: Administrative Documents and Correspondence, 1957-1980
Series III: Kalbfleisch Estate and Station History, 1937-1968
Series IV: Publications, 1961-1982
Series V: Photographs and Scrapbooks, circa 1930s-1969
This collection is interesting because it documents the entire lifespan of the research station. The bound collection of documents in Series III, Folder #2 (Correspondence, Documents, and Deeds: 1937, 1948, 1956, 1957), records the early history of the estate and Ms. Kalbfleisch’s wish to bequeath it to the museum. Not only does this volume contain various legal documents such as Ms. Kalbfleisch’s will and property deeds, but it also features Museum correspondence which illustrates the significant administrative process needed to acquire the estate and develop the Station. Two particularly interesting letters from NYC Parks Commissioner, Robert Moses are present in this volume as well (October 21st and 30th, 1957), in which he argues that the Museum should not pursue their plan to convert the Kalbfleisch estate into a research station (for a third letter see, Series II, Folder #1). Also, the Land Use History of the Kalbfleisch Field Research Station, prepared by Dr. Lanyon and Jack McCormick in 1964 (Series III, Folder #2), discusses the various uses the property and feature a number of photographs of the estate in the 1930s.
Also, this collection features a variety of interesting correspondence, photographs, newspaper clippings, and magazine articles, related to the Station’s Undergraduate Research Participation Program. These materials document the rise (early 1960s), successes (mid 1960s-early 1970s), and the subsequent termination of the program (1973) when its primary source of funding (the National Science Foundation) was drastically reduced. In particular, the two handmade scrapbooks of photographs and newspaper articles, relate the ways in which the program helped young undergraduate and high school students (both men and women) work within their fields of interest under the guidance of Museum experts.
- Lanyon, Wesley E. (Person)
Please contact Special Collections; materials are sometimes restricted.
Dr. Wesley E. Lanyon (1926-), Lamont Curator of Birds and former chairman in the Department of Ornithology at the American Museum of Natural History, was born in Norwalk CT, on June 10, 1926. He received his B.A. degree from Cornell University in 1950 and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in 1955. Lanyon joined the Museum staff in 1957 as assistant curator in the Ornithology Department. He became associate curator in 1963, curator in 1967, and was chairman from 1973 to 1980. He was named Lamont Curator of Birds in 1977. In 1958, he became the resident director of the Museum’s Kalbfleisch Field Research Station in Huntington Long Island where he lived with his family throughout the facility’s operation during the 1960s and 1970s. A publisher of dozens of articles and two books on ornithology, Dr. Lanyon also received numerous awards throughout his distinguished career from the American Ornithologist’s Union, the National Science Foundation, the American Philosophical Society, and the Frank M. Chapman Memorial Fund. He retired from the Museum in 1988.
Kalbfleisch Field Research Station: Upon her death in 1956, August Kalbfleisch, bequeathed to the American Museum of Natural History, a 94 acre estate in Huntington, New York along with an endowment of approximately $600,000. Thanks to a later gift from a Mrs. Rosalind Havemeyer in 1970, the size increased to 98 acres. Kalbfleisch, the granddaughter of early Brooklyn Mayor Martin Kalbfleisch, stipulated that the estate be utilized by the museum as a place of research and study, and from 1958 to around 1978, it served as a research center for various departments at the museum. Dr. Wesley E. Lanyon, an ornithologist and curator of birds for the museum, was named resident director of the Kalbfleisch Research Station in 1958, and after more than a year of renovation, the center was operational. In the summer of 1960, the Museum first organized its summer research program for students, the Undergraduate Research Participation Program, sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Every summer, the station played host to between nine and twelve students who were instructed in subjects such as biology and astronomy, and were expected to work on a personal research project over the course of their internship. Through the sixties the program’s popularity grew, and competition for the limited internships was great. However, in 1973, the program was eliminated due to cutbacks in funding from the National Science Foundation. Also, records indicate the station experienced frequent financial difficulties, and in nine of its first fourteen years in operation, its expenses were greater than its income, sometimes significantly so. With the end of the student research program, the station’s viability was short lived, and over the course of the late seventies and early eighties the museum embarked on a controversial plan to sell the property to real estate developers. After a lengthy process of approval from the town of Huntington, the estate was demolished and the land developed in 1983.
1.5 Linear Feet (5 boxes)
Language of Materials
Good to Fragile.
Source of Acquisition note
These materials were collected for the Museum Archives by Dr. Lanyon sometime before May 12, 2003. See note in Box #1, Folder #1 for more information.
Separated Materials note
48 nitrate photographic negatives from Box #5, Folder #5 were removed from the collection to be stored separately.
Physical Description note
Organized into 5 boxes, this collection includes a wide variety of materials including; handwritten and typed and carbon copied correspondence, memos, receipts, newspaper clippings (fragile), magazines, pamphlets, maps, photographs and negatives, as well as scrapbooks (fragile) and other self-bound volumes of documents.
- Kalbfleisch Field Research Station collection, 1937-1982
- Schuyler Volz
- March 2012
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note
- The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation provided support to make this finding aid available in ArchivesSpace (2016-2017). Finding aid created with support from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Hidden Collections grant, 2010.