William Blackburne

ID: SIA2008-3016

Creator: Unknown

Form/Genre: Photographic print

Date: c. 1900s

Citation: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 95, Box 26-A, Folder 5-A; and Record Unit 95, Box 3, Folder 59

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.
Download IIIF Manifest Request permissions Download image Print

Narrow Your Results


Filter Your Results

Smithsonian Secretaries Information

Close Browse records and papers of the Smithsonian Secretaries, from 1846 until today. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by individuals who have held that office.

Expeditions Information

Close Browse records and papers documenting scientific and collecting expeditions either affiliated with the Smithsonian, or with which Smithsonian researchers participated. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by geographic regions predominantly represented in expedition records.

Professional Societies Information

Close Browse records of professional societies closely associated with the Smithsonian, that focus on areas of scientific research and museum studies. Pre-set filters help narrow searches by major topics and disciplines.


William H. Blackburne, the first head keeper at the National Zoological Park, is bottle feeding a young dromedary (Bactrian) camel on the grounds of the National Zoo. William H. Blackburne, 1857-1950, was appointed the first Head Keeper at the National Zoological Park in 1892 and worked there for 52 years, retiring in 1943 at the age of 87, without ever having taken a day off for sickness or vacation. Prior to joining the Zoo staff, he had been an animal keeper for the Barnum and Bailey Circus for twelve years, and was especially experienced in handling the big cats. On their tour of England, he was the first person to perform in a cage with lions for Queen Victoria. Shortly after his arrival, the elephants "Dunk" and "Gold Dust" were donated to the Zoo by the Adams Forepaugh Shows. Blackie personally escorted the elephants from the circus grounds, through the streets of Washington, to the new Zoo grounds. For many years, Blackie longed to have giraffes at the National Zoo and personally oversaw the arrival of the first pair in 1926. When he was kicked by one of them as it was uncrated, he observed that it was a pleasure to be kicked by a giraffe in his own zoo.


  • Blackburne, William H
  • National Zoological Park (U.S.)


Historic Images of the Smithsonian


10w x 8h photograph is mounted on cardboard with the caption above. Original negative no. is SA-3. There is also the NZP Neg. #269.

Contained within

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 95, Box 26-A, Folder 5-A; and Record Unit 95, Box 3, Folder 59

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520, SIHistory@si.edu


c. 1900s

Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions


  • Animals
  • Zoos
  • Zoo keepers
  • Camels
  • Grounds


  • Photographic print
  • Person, candid

ID Number


Physical description

Color: Black and White; Size: 8 x 10; Type of Image: Person, candid; Medium: Photographic print

Full Record

View Full Record