Henry Cushier Raven papers
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.
- circa 1912-1944
- Majority of material found within 1920-1944
Access Conditions and Restrictions
2 Linear Feet (5 boxes)
Outside of the scientific field, Raven is best known for his unofficial adoption of Meshie, a small infant chimpanzee he purchased while exploring the Congo in 1929. Meshie, who was popular with the local media, lived with Raven’s family for many years before being transferred to a zoo in Chicago as an adult. Upon her death, Meshie was returned to the ownership of the AMNH and now resides in the Hall of Primates.
Raven died in 1944 at age 55 from an acute malarial infection most likely contracted on his very first expedition in 1912 to Borneo and Celebes.
Source of Acquisition
- American Museum of Natural History. Department of Mammalogy
- Anatomists -- United States -- Correspondence
- Gregory, William K. (William King), 1876-1970
- Manuscript Collection
- Mayr, Ernst, 1904-2005
- Natural history museum curators
- Nichols, John T. (John Treadwell), 1883-1958
- Raven, Henry Cushier, 1889-1944
- Vernay, Arthur Stannard, 1877-1960
- Henry Cushier Raven papers, approximately 1912-1944 (bulk 1920-1944)
- Janine Veazue
- Description rules
- Language of description
- 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, 2012.