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Edgar A. Mearns correspondence, 1883-1915

Identifier: Mss .M43

Scope and Contents

The collection consists entirely of photocopies of handwritten letters. The first letter, dated May 17, 1883, is from Albert S. Bickmore, founder and superintendent of the AMNH, concerning Mearns's proposed donation of a collection of birds. The second letter is from curator J.A. Allen, discussing details of the specimens. Other correspondents include James P. Chapin, Frank M. Chapman, L.P. Gratacap, C. Hart Merriam, Jenness Richardson and Anthony Woodward.


  • 1883-1915


Conditions Governing Access

Please contact Special Collections; materials are sometimes restricted.

Biographical / Historical

Edgar A. Mearns was an army surgeon and field naturalist. A tireless explorer and collector, Mearns contributed the first study collection of birds to the American Museum of Natural History in 1883. Mearns displayed an early interest in zoology, especially birds, corresponding with other collectors and writing papers. He consulted with J.A. Allen of the AMNH, and spent the winter following his 1881 graduation from medical school setting up the museum's first student collection in vertebrate zoology. After entering the army, Mearns continued to pursue his field work during postings throughout the U.S., and later in Cuba and the Philippines, collecting both zoological and botanical specimens. In 1891, Mearns was appointed to the Mexican-United States International Boundary Commission. With the help of the AMNH and other agencies, Mearns was able to explore the entire boundary line from El Paso, Tex., to the Pacific Coast, by 1894, collecting 30,000 specimens for the U.S. National Museum, his primary affiliation. Following his retirement, Mearns participated in two expeditions to East Africa, in 1909 and 1911.


0.25 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



Arranged chronologically, with one folder of undated material.

Existence and Location of Originals

Originals held at: Manuscript Division, Library of Congress. Washington, D.C. 20540.

Related Materials

AMNH Library Special Collections has Photographs: North American Southwest: Verde River Region, Arizona, 1885. ca. 43 prints. drawer 139. Arizona field photographs, ca. 18xx. PPC .M437.


Reproduction Note: Photocopies

Edgar A. Mearns correspondence, 1883-1915
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
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 Museum Archives at the Gottesman Research Library Repository

American Museum of Natural History
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New York NY 10024 USA
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