Finding Aids to Personal Papers and Special Collections in the Smithsonian Institution Archives
Record Unit 7441
Leonhard Stejneger and Georg Herman Baur Collection, circa 1850-1943
Leonhard Stejneger (1851-1943) was born in Norway. In 1881 he left for the United States and arrived in Washington, D.C., where he soon began working with the birds of the New World at the Smithsonian Institution with particular interest in aquatic birds. In December 1884, he was appointed Assistant Curator in the Department of Birds under Robert Ridgway, Curator. In 1889, after the resignation of Henry Crecy Yarrow, Honorary Curator of the Department of Reptiles and Batrachians, Stejneger became the first full-time Curator for the Department. In 1903 he served as Acting Head Curator of the Department of Biology for several months, and in 1911 he was appointed Head Curator of the Department of Biology after Frederick William True vacated the post. From that time until his death, Stejneger served both as Head Curator of the Department of Biology and Curator of the Division of Reptiles and Batrachians. He also chaired a Smithsonian committee which considered manuscripts for publication.
In addition to his herpetological and ornithological work, Stejneger was recognized as an authority on the fur seals of the North Pacific. He began his studies in this field when he was sent to the Commander Islands for the United States Signal Service in 1882, and made a number of trips to the area between then and 1922. In 1896, Stejneger was appointed to the International Fur Seal Commission by President Grover Cleveland. In connection with his fur seal work, Stejneger researched and published a biography of Georg Wilhelm Steller, 1936.
Stejneger also played an important role in international zoological meetings and was elected to the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature in 1898.
Georg Herman Baur (1859-1898) was born and educated in Germany. He came to the United States in 1884 to be Othniel Charles Marsh's assistant at Yale University. He later held faculty positions at Clark University and the University of Chicago. Baur's primary fields of study were comparative osteology and paleontology. At the time of his death, Baur was preparing a monograph on the tortoises of North America which was to be published by the United States National Museum (USNM).
This collection consists of papers documenting the research of both Stejneger and Baur on tortoises. Much of the Baur material was created during his research for the planned USNM monograph on North American tortoises. The papers consist of correspondence, notes, manuscripts, lists, newspaper clippings, photographs, negatives, and drawings. Of special interest are color drawings executed by John H. Richard and Antonio Zeno Shindler.
This collection is indexed under the following access terms. These are links to collections with related topics, persons or places.
- Shindler, A. Zeno (Antonio Zeno), 1823-1899
- Baur, Georg Herman
- Richard, John H., approximately 1807-
- Stejneger, Leonhard, 1851-1943
- Marsh, Othniel Charles, 1831-1899
- United States National Museum
- Yale University
- Clark University (Atlanta, Ga.)
- University of Chicago
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7441, Leonhard Stejneger and Georg Herman Baur Collection