S. Dillon Ripley Papers, 1913-1993 and undated, with related materials from 1807, 1871-1891

Usage Conditions Apply
The Smithsonian Institution Archives welcomes personal and educational use of its collections unless otherwise noted. For commercial uses, please contact photos@si.edu.


These papers consist of correspondence with family, friends, and colleagues in such fields as aviculture, ornithology, conservation, and museology; files documenting Ripley's field work, research, and publications; calendars; files documenting professional associations and meetings; audio-visual materials, including photographs, audiotapes, and videotapes; and Ripley family memorabilia, including nineteenth-century materials.


  • Ali, Sálim 1896-1987
  • Lansdowne, J. Fenwick (James Fenwick) 1937-2008
  • Ripley, S. Dillon (Sidney Dillon) 1913-2001
  • Charles Darwin Foundation
  • International Council for Bird Preservation
  • International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources
  • Yale University
  • Harvard University
  • Peabody Museum of Natural History
  • Smithsonian Institution Office of the Secretary


  • S. Dillon Ripley (1913- ), ornithologist and eighth Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, developed an interest in natural history in his youth. He received the B.A. from Harvard University in 1936 and the Ph.D. from Yale University in 1943. From 1946 to 1963, he was on the faculty of Yale University and served as Director of its Peabody Museum of Natural History from 1959 to 1963. He conducted extensive field work, including trips to New Guinea in 1938, Sumatra in 1939, and India and Nepal from 1946 to 1949. He began a long-term research program on birds of Southeast Asia, working with Indian ornithologist, Salim Ali. Based on this research, they produced the multi-volume Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan. Working with the illustrator, J. Fenwick Lansdowne, in 1977 Ripley produced Rails of the World. Ripley was also an avid aviculturalist, rearing exotic birds and waterfowl at his home in Litchfield, Connecticut. In 1964, Ripley was appointed Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. During his twenty-year tenure as Secretary, he oversaw the development of numerous museums, research institutes, and public programs. Ripley was also involved in many conservation organizations, including the Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands, International Council for Bird Preservation, and International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
  • Description in control file.

Addl. KW Subjects

(RU 7000)


(1) General correspondence, circa 1914-1992; (2) organizational correspondence, circa 1943-1986; (3) calendars, 1964-1984; (4) travel files, circa 1936-1984; (5) meetings and conference files, circa 1950-1985; (6) research files, circa 1940-1988; (7) audio-visual materials, circa 1914-1993; (8) memorabilia, circa 1807, 1871-1891, 1920, 1948, 1974-1983

Repository Loc.

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Capital Gallery, Suite 3000, MRC 507; 600 Maryland Avenue, SW; Washington, DC 20024-2520


  • 1807
  • 1807-1993
  • 1913-1993 and undated, with related materials from 1807, 1871-1891

Restrictions & Rights

Restricted indefinitely


  • Animals
  • Conservation of natural resources
  • Natural History
  • Birds
  • Portraits
  • Museums
  • Museum techniques
  • Natural history
  • Ornithology


  • Photographs
  • Collection descriptions
  • Audiotapes
  • Videotapes

Local number

SIA RU007008

Physical description

97.69 cu. ft. (79 record storage boxes) (33 document boxes) (6 half document boxes) (1 16x20 box) (oversize material)

Full Record

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