Martin H. Moynihan Papers, 1952-1996

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Martin H. Moynihan (1928-1996) was a world authority on animal behavior, with major contributions to the study of communication in birds, primates and cephalopods. In 1957 he became the Resident Naturalist and Director of what was then a small field station on Barro Colorado Island, Panama, later named the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI). He transformed the station into a major research institution in tropical biology. After retirement in 1973, he served as Senior Scientist at STRI. These papers consist primarily of field notes, and include correspondence, and photographs. |Notes include detailed and extended observations of animals in a variety of settings. There are several instances where he observed animals in captivity in zoos in Washington DC, Bronx, Paris, and London. In most cases these have not been cataloged unless items include observations of animals in the wild as well. Other notes include animals in captivity on Barro Colorado Island and in the wild. It appears that often the animals at Barro Colorado were recently removed from the wild. In many cases, Moynihan's observation notes have been reordered. He originally recorded and ordered them by date, but reorganized them by type of animal, thus many folders of observations include dates that extend over years. Notes often include detailed illustrations that clarify text and notations usually indicating extended observations of the same individual or pair of animals. Observation notes often correspond with indexes organized by type of animal and behavior. Reordered documents are often page numbered, but this can result in sometimes multiple page numbers for some documents, as he also paginated entries in their original configuration. Locations include the United States (East coast and Hawaiian Islands), Europe (United Kingdom), Africa (including Liberia, Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire), Asia (India, Indonesia), part of Central America, and throughout most of South America.

Date Range

1952, 1952-1996

Access Information

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  • Cephalopods
  • Aves
  • Mammalia
  • Animalia
  • Squids
  • Birds
  • Primates


  • South America
  • Barro Colorado, Isla
  • United States
  • Europe
  • Africa
  • United Kingdom
  • India
  • Canada
  • Asia
  • Senegal
  • Panama
  • Hawaiian Islands
  • Australia
  • Indonesia


Collection record

Accession #

SIA Acc. 01-096


100 items (field notes, illustrations, black-and-white photographs)

Physical Location

Smithsonian Institution Archives