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Finding Aids to Oral Histories in the Smithsonian Institution Archives

Record Unit 9506

Friedmann, Herbert, 1900-1987, interviewee

Herbert Friedmann Oral History Interview, 1975

Repository:Smithsonian Institution Archives, Washington, D.C. Contact us at
Creator:Friedmann, Herbert, 1900-1987, interviewee
Title:Herbert Friedmann Oral History Interview
Quantity:3 audiotapes (Reference copies). 5 digital .mp3 files (Reference copies).
Collection:Record Unit 9506
Language of Materials:English

This interview of Friedmann by Pamela M. Henson covers his education, research interests, career and colleagues in the Division of Birds, administration of the Department of Zoology, USNM, and work in the Exhibits Modernization Program.

Historical Note

Herbert Friedmann (1900-1987), ornithologist, received his Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1923. He taught biology and ornithology at Brown University and Amherst College for several years. In 1929 he was appointed Curator of the Division of Birds in the United States National Museum, a position held until 1957 when he was appointed Head Curator of the Department of Zoology. Friedmann left the Institution in 1961 to become Director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History until his retirement in 1970. Friedmann's research focused on the birds of Africa and South America, parasitic birds, and the symbolic use of birds in art.

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The Smithsonian Institution Archives began its Oral History Program in 1973. The purpose of the program is to supplement the written documentation of the Archives' record and manuscript collections with an Oral History Collection, focusing on the history of the Institution, research by its scholars, and contributions of its staff. Program staff conduct interviews with current and retired Smithsonian staff and others who have made significant contributions to the Institution. There are also interviews conducted by researchers or students on topics related to the history of the Smithsonian or the holdings of the Smithsonian Institution Archives.

Friedmann was interviewed for the Oral History Program because he made significant scholarly and administrative contributions of the Smithsonian during 28 years of service at the National Museum of Natural History.

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Descriptive Entry

Friedmann was interviewed by Pamela M. Henson on April 22, 1975. The interview includes his reminiscences of his education, research interests, career and colleagues in the Division of Birds, administration of the United States National Museum, and work in the exhibits modernization program.

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Preferred Citation

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 9506, Herbert Friedmann Oral History Interview

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Container List


Interview 1: April 22, 1975


Interview includes Friedmann's reminiscences of his career in ornithology as United States National Museum Curator of Birds and Head Curator of Zoology, research interests, work in the exhibits modernization program, and role as Director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, c. 1920-1975.


Transcript, pp. 1-81, of audio recording, 2.5 hours.


Recording of Interview: Total Recording Time: 2.5 hours

Original Masters: 3 5" reel-to-reel analog audiotapes
Preservation Masters: 5 7" reel-to-reel analog audiotapes; 5 digital .wav files
Reference Copies: 3 cassette audiotapes; 5 digital .mp3 files.