Handley, Charles O. (Charles Overton), 1924-2000

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Biographical History

Charles Overton Handley was a naturalist who worked for the U.S. National Museum. Handley was born on July 14, 1924, in Longview, Texas. The summer between high school and college he joined an expedition from the University of Michigan's Museum of Zoology to collect mammals in the Southern Appalachians. He received his bachelor's degree from Virginia Tech in 1944. He went on to earn his master's degree in 1947, and in 1955 a PhD in mammalogy at the University of Michigan. During his studies he continued to serve on numerous expeditions. After serving in World War II, Handley was hired by the Smithsonian Institution to collect birds and mammals on the Blue Dolphin Labrador Expeditions to the Arctic. Handley continued to take part in collecting expeditions and including a seven-month expedition to the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa with Harvard anthropologists. He visited Guatemala, and in 1957 he began a series of ten annual expeditions to inventory the country’s mammals. From 1965-1968, the Defense Department hired Handley to conduct an inventory of mammals, their ectoparasites, and viruses in Venezuela. Following his work in South America, he went on nine expeditions between the years 1986-1993 to the Caribbean islands of Bocas del Toro. During his career, Handley published approximately 200 articles in scientific journals and several books. He was married twice; Iracy Oliveira in 1951; and Darelyn Weber in 1969. Handley had two sons and two daughters. He died on June 9, 2000, in Springfield, Virginia.


  • Library of Congress. NACO. Control Number: n 91025939
  • USGS website: http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/resshow/perry/bios/HandleyCharles.htm.

Related entities

  • National Museum of Natural History (U.S.) Division of Mammals: He was curator of Mammals, at the National Museum of Natural History.
  • Smithsonian Venezuelan Project: He headed the Smithsonian Venezuelan Project.

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  • Animals
  • Mammalogists
  • Birds


Personal name


  • Ornithologists
  • Mammalogists