Austin, Oliver Luther, 1903-1988

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Biographical History

Oliver Luther Austin, Jr., (1903-1988) was born on May 24, 1903, in Tuckahoe, New York. He did his undergraduate work at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. He went on to Harvard University and the Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ). While at Harvard, he traveled and collected, serving as a naturalist on the Mason-Blodgett Expedition in 1927, collecting for the MCZ on the Yucatan Peninsula and in British Honduras. He received Harvard's first doctorate degree in ornithology in 1931. In 1930, he began to work for the Bureau of Biological Survey in Minnesota. He later surveyed waterfowl, particularly terns, on the East Coast. When the depression hit its height, Austin was laid off. When World War II, began he enlisted to the Navy, and served as a line officer in the South Pacific through the war. At the end of the war, he was stationed in Korea for almost a year. He continued to collect, and even published a book called "Birds of Korea." In 1946, he was transferred to Japan, where he was head of the Wildlife Branch of the Occupation government until late 1949. He returned to Cape Cod in 1950, and moved to Montgomery, Alabama, to be a professor of zoology at the Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base. He later became a curator of birds at the Florida State Museum. Austin built the bird skin collection from 1,800 to more than 17,500 specimens, where his major accomplishment was the publishing of "Birds of the World," in 1961. He died in December of 1988. His field work in the United States is documented in the National Museum of Natural History, Division of Mammals.

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Florida State Museum: He was curator of birds at the Florida State Museum.

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