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W. Douglas Burden papers

 Collection
Identifier: Mss .B87

Dates

  • 1920-1978 (bulk 1926-1961)

Creator

Restrictions on Access

Please contact Special Collections; materials are sometimes restricted.

Extent

11 Linear Feet (23 boxes)

Biographical sketch

W. Douglas Burden was a geologist, naturalist, hunter, filmmaker and author, affiliated with the American Museum of Natural History. Burden was a trustee of the AMNH, 1926-1961, chaired a committee on the preparation of homolosine (equal-area projection) maps, and established the AMNH Dept. of Experimental Biology in 1928 (later named the Dept. of Animal Behavior). Burden formed Burden Pictures, Inc., 1928-1931, with ichthyologist Ilia Tolstoy; beginning in 1935, with Tolstoy and C.V. Whitney, Burden formed Marine Studios (later named Marineland), an aquarium project in Florida, which worked to develop a shark repellent for use by the U.S. Navy during World War II.

Arrangement

Organized into two groups: boxes 1-12 contain papers related to Burden's scientific projects, travel, filmmaking and publishing; boxes 13-23 contain personal papers.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Collection received in AMNH Department of Mammalogy. Date of acquisition--1983 from the.

Scope and content

The collection consists of correspondence, reports, journals, notebooks and some clippings related to Burden's scientific projects, travel and expeditions; typescripts or printed copies of Burden's published and unpublished articles and stories; the typescript of Burden's book (originally titled Hunting in many lands), published in 1960 under the title: Look to the wilderness; and personal papers. The bulk of the inventoried material covers four of Burden's projects: his 1926 expedition to Indonesia to study the Komodo dragon and collect specimens, and about which he wrote his 1927 book, Dragon lizards of Komodo; his formation of Burden Pictures, Inc., and production of the 1930 film, The silent enemy, about the Ojibwa Indians; the formation of Marine Studios, Fla.; and his study of sharks and development of a shark repellent. Burden's wide-ranging interests and travels are documented, including journeys or expeditions to Alaska, Latin America, China, Indonesia, South Asia and Kenya; and his work for the American Museum of Natural History, including serving on the nominating committee of the Board of Trustees; his work on homolosine maps; and his 1943 report, A new vision of learning, which recommended changes in the presentation of exhibits. Correspondents include Roy Chapman Andrews, G. Kingsley Noble and Henry Fairfield Osborn of the AMNH; other correspondents include J.C. Faunthorpe of the 1922-1923 Faunthorpe-Vernay Expedition to India, Nepal and Burma; former U.S. Secretary of Defense James Forrestal; editor Maxwell Perkins; Kermit Roosevelt; and cinematographer J.B. Shackelford. There is also material from various zoological, conservation and exploring organizations. Other manuscripts and publications include: Big game of the Kenai Peninsula, describing Burden's experiences in Alaska in 1919; his log of a hunting trip to North China in the 1920s, with letters written from Beijing and Tianjin, including one from Andrews describing the political turmoil of 1926; Burden's master's thesis on the geology of the north shore of Long Island, N.Y. (1926); and manuscripts of Burden's two plays: The wilderness road; and Pauline Bonaparte. Personal papers include wills, papers and letters concerning Burden's family, apartment, schools, income taxes, etc.
Title
W. Douglas Burden papers, 1920-1978 (bulk 1926-1961)
Language of description
English
Sponsor
The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation provided support to make this finding aid available in ArchivesSpace (2016-2017). Minimal level collection record created with support from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Hidden Collections grant, 2010.

Repository Details

Part of the Research Library Special Collections Repository

Contact:
American Museum of Natural History
Library Services, Special Collections
Central Park West at 79th Street
New York 10024-5192 USA US
(212) 769-5420