Record Unit 7306, Perrygo, Watson M, Watson M. Perrygo Papers, circa 1880s-1979
Watson M. Perrygo (1906-1984), field collector, taxidermist, and exhibits specialist for the United States National Museum (USNM), was born in Washington, D.C. As a young man, Perrygo was a frequent visitor to the USNM. He became a protege of the ornithologist, Alexander Wetmore, then Director of the Museum, with whom he went on weekend field trips in Maryland and Virginia.
Perrygo began his career at the USNM in 1927 as a scientific aide in the Division of Mammals and the taxidermy studio. In addition to the taxidermic and other collection-related work, Perrygo was sent on field trips to collect birds, mammals, and snakes unrepresented in the USNM. His collecting activities included trips to Haiti, 1929; again to Haiti in 1930 as a member of the Parish-Smithsonian Expedition; to West Virginia, 1936; to Tennessee, 1937; to Kentucky, 1938; to North Carolina, 1939; to South Carolina, 1940; and to Rampart Cave, Arizona, 1942, as assistant to A. Remington Kellogg to excavate skeletal remains of several species of mammals, birds, lizards, and snakes. Between 1946 and 1953, Perrygo also accompanied Wetmore to Panama on several occasions to collect birds.
Perrygo served as exhibits preparator and zoological exhibits worker in the Department of Zoology, USNM, 1952-1958, and as zoological exhibits worker in the Office of Exhibits, Museum of History and Technology (MHT), 1958-1960. He was in charge of taxidermy for MHT, 1960-1962, and for the Museum of Natural History (MNH), 1962-1964. Perrygo was an important figure in the exhibits modernization program at the USNM during the 1940s and 1950s.
After his retirement in 1964, Perrygo was an active participant in historical preservation projects in Maryland as president of the Charles County Historical Society and as a member of the Board of the Maryland Historical Trust. He also directed the museum exhibits program of the Botanical Garden Museum, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. From time to time, Perrygo also did consulting work on exhibits in the Smithsonian Institution.
- October 18, 1906
- Born, Washington, D. C.
- Helped USNM prepare natural history specimens for the Philadelphia Sesquicentennial
- Bird collecting in the vicinity of Ocean City, Maryland, with Alexander Wetmore and Frederick Charles Lincoln; learned how to collect and label birds
- July-November, 1927
- Worked part-time on the osteological specimens located in the attic of the Natural History Building
- Became permanent staff member of the USNM, as scientific aide, working half-time for the Division of Mammals and half-time for the taxidermy shop, and as field collector to collect birds and other natural history specimens for the USNM
- December, 1928-April, 1929
- Field collecting trip to Haiti with Arthur J. Poole
- February-June, 1930
- Field collecting trip to Haiti as a member of the Parish-Smithsonian Expedition. The expedition was sponsored by Lee Hamilton Parish and his parents, Samuel W. and Ella Parish. Perrygo sailed to Haiti with the Parishes on their yacht, the "Esperanza." The "Esperanza" made an unplanned stop in Cuba after a storm wrecked her mast. Perrygo collected bird specimens in Cuba while the yacht was being repaired. In Haiti, Perrygo continued to collect bird and other natural history specimens, mostly along the coastal region of Haiti, and collected live reptiles for the National Zoological Park.
- Went with USNM taxidermists Earl D. Reid and J. S. Warmbath to Bayhead, New Jersey to prepare a 1200 pound sailfish for exhibition
- Helped prepare natural history specimens for the George Washington Bicentennial
- April-July, 1936
- Field collecting trip to West Virginia to collect bird specimens with Carleton C. Lingebach
- September-November, 1936
- Field collecting trip to West Virginia with Carleton C. Lingebach
- April-July, 1937
- Field collecting trip to Tennessee with Herbert Friedmann (Alexander Wetmore joined them briefly in June)
- September-November, 1937
- Field collecting trip to Tennessee with Carleton C. Lingebach and Henry R. Schaefer
- April-July, 1938
- Field collecting trip to Kentucky with Henry R. Schaeffer and James Cole
- September-November, 1938
- Field collecting trip to Kentucky with Gregor Rohwer and Herbert G. Deignan
- April-July, 1939
- Field collecting trip to North Carolina with Charles Wheeler and Gregor Rohwer
- September-November, 1939
- Field collecting trip to North Carolina with Charles L. Wheeler (Alexander Wetmore and John Enos Graf joined them briefly in October)
- April-July, 1940
- Field collecting trip to South Carolina with J. Southgate Hoyt and John C. Calhoun
- September-December, 1940
- Field collecting trip to South Carolina with J. Southgate Hoyt and John S. Webb
- March-May, 1942
- Accompanied A. Remington Kellogg, Assistant Director of the USNM, to Rampart Cave, Arizona to excavate sloth fossils as well as skeletal remains of several species of mammals, birds, lizards, and snakes. Also visited the Denver Museum and Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History to study their exhibit methods.
- Worked as a taxidermist full-time
- USNM taxidermists were involved in the gradual modernization of the mammal, bird, osteology, and sealife exhibits in the Natural History Building
- Accompanied Alexander Wetmore (Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, 1944-1952) on their annual field collecting trips to Panama to collect birds (usually between March and May)
- Exhibit preparator and zoological exhibits worker in the Department of Zoology, USNM
- October, 1957
- Visited several plastic manufacturing companies in New York City and Philadelphia to learn to make accessories from plastic for the exhibits
- November, 1957
- Visited the University of Kansas Museum to study its exhibits methods
- Zoological exhibits worker in the Office of Exhibits, Museum of History and Technology (MHT)
- Was in charge of taxidermy for MHT
- Was in charge of taxidermy for the Museum of Natural History (MNH)
- Retired from the MNH
- President of the Charles County (Maryland) Historical Society
- Member of the Board of the Maryland Historical Trust
- Directed the museum exhibits program of the Botanical Garden Museum, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
- August 5, 1984
- Died at home in Port Tobacco, Maryland