Finding Aids to Personal Papers and Special Collections in the Smithsonian Institution Archives
Record Unit 7297
Carriker, Melbourne Armstrong, 1879-1965
Melbourne Armstrong Carriker Papers, 1901, 1907, 1909-1910, 1918, 1929-1965
Melbourne Armstrong Carriker, Jr. (1879-1965), was born in Sullivan, Illinois. By the time he graduated from high school, he was collecting bird skins and studying the habits of birds extensively. His interest in bird lice (Mallophaga) began during his freshman year at the University of Nebraska under the guidance of Lawrence Bruner, and Carriker became one of the world's authorities on the neotropical genera. During his career Carriker was responsible for the description of two new families, four new subfamilies, fifty-three new genera and subgenera, and eight hundred sixty-six new species and subspecies. Carriker was prolific in his writing as well. Between 1940 and 1959 he produced thirty-three papers. His papers were published in Spanish as well as English, and he corresponded with Mallophaga systematists all over the world.
Carriker collected specimens for some of the most important institutions in the country, including the Carnegie Museum (1902 and 1907-1927); the American Museum of Natural History (1909); the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia (1929-1938); the United States National Museum (1940-1952); the Peabody Museum; the Field Museum of Natural History; and the Los Angeles County Museum. He traveled to South America extensively on his collecting trips, covering Costa Rica, Trinidad, Venezuela, and Curacao Island, and canvassing Peru, Bolivia, and Colombia almost entirely. From 1907 to 1909, Carriker held the position of assistant curator of birds at the Carnegie Museum. In 1953, he received the honorary post of collaborator in the Department of Entomology, United States National Museum, and he continued his collecting work until the month before his death in 1965.
- February 14 ,1879
- Born in Sullivan, Illinois
- December 1899
- Presented first paper, on nesting habits of local raptors, at first meeting of the Nebraska Ornithologists' Union
- December 1901
- Publication of first paper on Mallophaga
- January-February 1902
- Six-week collecting trip in Costa Rica with Lawrence Bruner of the University of Nebraska
- Collected birds in Costa Rica for the Carnegie Museum and small mammals for the American Museum of Natural History. Collecting trips to the volcanoes Irazu and Turialba and, accompanied by British ornithologist C. F. Underwood, to Pozo Azul. Saved Mallophaga from birds collected, and these became the subject of a second paper
- Returned to Costa Rica with H. C. Crawford, Jr., and Max Zimmerer. Contracted "Black-Water Fever," hospitalized. Upon recovery, took a job as an engineer with the General Electric Company installing electric lights in Puerto Limon
- Collected in Talamanca, on the Sixiola River in southeastern Costa Rica.
- Returned to Puerto Limon, secured work as time-keeper and assistant manager of a United Fruit farm in Gaupiles. Later became manager of an area farm named El Hogar
- Began collecting in the Terraba region of southwestern Costa Rica. Returned to the U.S. in December
- Served under W. E. Clyde Todd as assistant curator of birds for the Carnegie Museum. Sometime during this interval he made a three-month collecting trip with Todd to northern Canada
- Collected in Trinidad and Venezuela, securing birds for the Carnegie Museum and mammals for Dr. J. A. Allen at the American Museum of Natural History
- Collected for a month on Curacao Island, then went to Santa Marta, Colombia. He used Santa Marta as a base of operations until 1927
- Married Myrtle Carmelite Flye
- Collected in the Sierra Nevada. Ascended by way of Rio Macotama to Lake Macotama
- Collected in region west of Baranquilla
- Traveled up the Rio Magdalena to Gamarra, into the eastern cordillera of the Andes through Sanander Norte, then south through Santander Sur to Bucaramanga. Crossed Santander to Cucui, worked down to the lowlands of the Rio Cassanare. Recrossed the Andes, went south to Bogota, then returned to Santa Marta. Collected all along the way.
- Collected between the mouth of the Rio Atrato and Quibdo, then down the Rio Condoto to the Rio San Juan, then went to Buenaventura by steamer, all with his wife, baby daughter, and two servant girls. Collected at Cordoba, Caldas, Bitaco, La Cumbre, Cali, Manizales, and La Dorada
- Collected in Venezuela for the Carnegie Museum with his wife and Robert Sargent
- Sold residence in Santa Marta, moved to Beachwood, New Jersey
- Joined staff of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, and began an ornithological survey of Peru for them, starting in the eastern lowlands
- May 1930
- Returned to States
- Returned to Lima, began collecting at La Oroya. Worked up the western cordillera, then south along the coast, then went eastward. Returned to Philadelphia
- Returned to Peru. Started collecting on the coast near Huacho, and worked north. Conducted extensive collecting trip in the interior. Joined for the latter part of the trip by Radcliffe Roberts. Returned to Philadelphia
- Went back to Peru, collected in the north
- June 1934
- Sent to Bolivia by the Academy, accompanied by his eldest son Melbourne Romaine Carriker
- February 1935
- Returned to States
- Worked on collected material, producing a large report on the Mallophaga of the Tinamous
- April 1936
- Returned to collecting in Bolivia
- December 1936
- Went back to States
- May 1937
- Returned to Bolivia
- May 1938
- Returned to States. Resigned position at the Academy
- Worked as a carpenter in Beachwood, New Jersey
- Collected for four months in Veracruz, Mexico, for the U.S. National Museum
- Accompanied Dr. Alexander Wetmore on a collecting trip in Colombia. Was divorced
- Covered most of Colombia on collecting trips. Finished work for the U.S. National Museum and retired to Colombia at the end of 1952. Continued to publish extensively
- Married a Colombian woman who appears in this collection only as "Felisa"
- Collected for the Peabody Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum, the Field Museum of Natural History, and others. Became a collaborator of the Smithsonian and did some collecting for Dr. Alexander Wetmore. Made periodic trips to the U.S. but continued to live in Colombia. Continued to publish regularly
- July 27, 1965
- Died in Bucaramanga, Colombia
This finding aid was digitized with funds generously provided by the Smithsonian Institution Women's Committee.
This collection provides primary documentation of Melbourne Armstrong Carriker, Jr.'s research on Mallophaga, and to a lesser extent his field trips and collecting activities in South America. The bulk of the collection consists of incoming and outgoing correspondence with museum curators and co-workers mostly concerning taxonomic research on Mallophaga, 1927-1965. The letters are not helpful in illuminating Carriker's personal life, but they do furnish some interesting insights into his personality and professional views. In addition, they describe Carriker's collecting trips fairly explicitly, providing a great deal of information about the South American countryside and the ranges of many species of birds. Important correspondents include Alexander Wetmore, G. H. E. Hopkins, Theresa Clay, John Frederick Gates Clark, and A. Remington Kellogg. Several of the letters are written in Spanish, French, and German.
Other materials concerning his entomological studies include research notes on various species of Mallophaga and collection lists of the lice and their hosts; miscellaneous notes and papers largely pertaining to nomenclature, but also including autobiographical sketches by Carriker; scientific illustrations of Mallophaga by Carriker; and photographs of Mallophaga specimens.
Carriker's South American field work is documented by diaries kept during trips to Costa Rica, 1907; Colombia, 1918, 1941, 1951; Peru, 1932-1933; and Bolivia, 1936-1937. Also included are photographs taken on trips to Costa Rica, 1901; Venezuela, 1909-1910; Peru, 1930-1932; and Colombia, 1943.
This collection is indexed under the following access terms. These are links to collections with related topics, persons or places.
- Carriker, Melbourne Armstrong, 1879-1965
- United States National Museum
- National Museum of Natural History (U.S.). Department of Entomology
Physical Characteristics of Materials in the Collection
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7297, Melbourne Armstrong Carriker Papers