FRANK MICHLER CHAPMAN COLLECTION

 
 

 

Ornithology Collection: Frank Michler Chapman Papers, 1931-1943

One box (56 items)

Frank Michler Chapman (1864-1945) was an ornithologist of international stature and a major contributor to the development of the discipline of ornithology in the United States. He joined the American Museum of Natural History in 1888 as an assistant to the head of the department of mammology and ornithology and continued his association with the museum for the remainder of his life. In 1901 he became Associate Curator of Ornithology, in 1908 Curator of Ornithology, and 1920 the first Chairman of the newly created Department of Birds. Through his efforts, he was able to make the Department the best in the world. Chapman was an energetic and innovative researcher, doing pioneer work on Neotropical biogeography. His concern with and sensitivity to the living environment of birds and other animals led to his development of the “habitat group” as a means of display in the Museum, a feature now widely imitated by museums through the world. A leading conservationist, Chapman was a skilled and prolific author and did much to popularize bird study and a concern for conservation in the United States.

Chapman’s capacity for friendship is reflected in this collection of correspondence, which consists of an exchange of letters between himself and Robert Kendall Enders (1899-?) who during their correspondence was National Research Council Fellow (1930-32) in Wooster, Ohio, and then Professor of Biology at Swarthmore College (1932-?), Swarthmore, PA. Enders was a mammologist and an associate of Chapman at the Barro Colorado field station in Panama. The exchange of letters for the most part deals with their mutual scientific interests and research. In all there are 36 letters from Chapman, both holograph and typed, and 13 carbons from Enders. (There is also a carbon of letter from Enders to an E.B. Cherbonnier of the Ralston Purina Company.)

Organized in two series:

Series I: Background:

Folder 1:

Biographical accounts of Chapman from Auk, Dictionary of National Biography, Dictionary of Scientific Biography, and Who Was Who and biographical account of Enders from American men of Science: The Physical and Biological Sciences.

Series II: Exchange of letters between Frank Michler Chapman and Robert K. Enders:

Folder 2: 1931:

FMC to RKE:
Barro Colorado, 4 March- holograph (2p. on 1 l.): pumas
Barro Colorado, 25 March- holograph (4p. on 2 l.): personal feelings for Enders, white-lipped pecory
American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), 22 April- holograph (2p. on 1 l.): whereabouts of Skutch; looking for cure for dhabie itch
AMNH, 6 May- typed (1 p. on 1 l.): enclosing photograph
AMNH, 8 May- typed (1p. on 1 l.): Ender’s reappointment [to Barro Colorado?]; weight of an old coati
AMNH, 19 Nov.- Holograph (2p. on 1 l.): expects to sail on Nov 2nd; happy to write on his behalf.

Folder 3: 1932:

FMC to RKE: AMNH, 1 April- holograph (1p on 1 l.): very brief note re when to come.
FMC to RKE: AMNH, 18 April- typed (1p on 1 l.): wrote 5000-word article on Manakins
RKE to FMC: Wooster, OH, 8 August- carbon (1p. on 1 l.): Barro Colorado mammals; offer of position at Swarthmore
FMC to RKE: Tannerville, NY, 11 August- Holograph (3 p. on 2 conj. l.): Palmleaf Bat; advice on Swarthmore offer
RKE to FMC: Wooster, OH, 17 August- carbon (1p. on 1 l.):Palm-leaf Bat, Swarthmore offer
FMC to RKE: AMNH, 30 September- typed (2p. on 2 l.): Barro Colorado mammals (pumas, tapirs, deer, bat [Artibeus Watsoni]); congratulations on Swarthmore job; replacement for Donato
FMC to RKE: AMNH, 6 October- typed (1 p. on 1 l.): questions Zetek’s reply to RKE’s inquiry

Folder 4: 1933-34:

FMC to RKE: AMNH, 2 December 1933- typed (1p. on 1 l.): not going to Barro Colorado, but rather to Miami; pleased with reaction to his Autobiography
FMC to RKE: Miami, FL, 13 Dec 1933- holograph (2p. on 1 l.): balance of muskrats to birds is the problem on the Rainey Reservation
RKE to FMC: [Swarthmore, PA], 9 January 1934- carbon (1p. on 1 l.): his visit to the Rainey leads to the same conclusions; enjoyed meeting Dr. Pearson
FMC to RKE: AMNH, 28 September 1934- typed (1p. on 1 l.): delighted RKE is going to Barro Colorado
FMC to RKE: AMNH, 13 November 1934- typed (1 p. on 1 l.): sailing for Panama a week from today

Folder 5: 1935:

RKE to FMC: [Swarthmore, PA], 9 February- carbon (1 p. on 1 l.): voyage home from Barro Colorado; enclosing “all I can find on the manakin”
FMC to RKE: Frijoles, Canal Zone, 23 Feb.- holograph (2p. on 1 l.): thanks him for Darwin- Sclater quote on feathers; condition of the coati Jose
FMC to RKE: AMNH, 1 Oct.- holograph (2p. on 1 l.): congratulations on publication of Barro Colorado mammals
FMC to RKE: Frijoles, Canal Zone, 11 Dec.- holograph (2 p. on 1 l.): comments on various mammals at Barro Colorado, including coati Jose

Folder 6: 1936-37:

FMC to RKE: AMNH, 9 May 1936- holograph (2 p. on 1 l.): note re getting together
RKE to FMC: [Swarthmore, PA], 7 December 1936- carbon (1 p. on 1 l.): wants to drop in with a student
FMC to RKE: AMNH, 8 December 1936- typed (1 p. on 1 l.): looks forward to seeing him Friday; will sail for Panama in a week
FMC to RKE: AMNH, 11 June 1937- holograph (2 p. on 1 l.): asks RKE to drop by’ want him to look for big animal tracks
FMC to RKE: 27 November 1937- typed (1 p. on 1 l.): asks RKE about status of larger mammals on Barro Colorado
FMC to RKE: AMNH, 30 November 1937- typed (1 p. on 1 l.): note of 29 November “sadly enough confirms the suspicion which has been gradually developing into a belief” [re status of large mammals?]

Folder 7: 1938:

FMC to RKE: AMNH, 27 May- typed (1 p. on 1 l.): “What kind of an animal is eating the bait in this picture?”
FMC to RKE: AMNH, 3 June- typed (1 p. on 1 l.): enclosing another copy of photograph
RKE to FMC: [Swarthmore, PA], 4 June- carbon (1 p. on 1 l.): animal identified as Didelphis
FMC to RKE: AMNH, 6 June- typed (1 p. on 1 l.): more on photograph of Didelphus

Folder 8: January- February 1940:

FMC to RKE: AMNH, 29 January- typed (1 p. on 1 l.): Wants young native from western Panama to collect specimens of the White-throated Sparrow [= Rufous- collared Sparrow], Zonotrichia (Brachyspiza capensis) [= Zonotrichia capensis] on Coiba Island in connection with a monograph on the bird he is preparing
RKE to FMC: [Swarthmore PA], 30 January- carbon (1 p. on 1 l.): the man he is looking for is Ratibor Hartman
FMC to RKE: AMNH, 31 January- typed (1 p. on 1 l.): more on Brachyspiza
RKE to FMC [Swarthmore PA], 1 February- carbon: enclosing copy of note to Ratibor
FMC to RKE: AMNH, 2 February- typed (1 p. on 1 l.): approves note to Ratibor
RKE to FMC: [Swarthmore PA], 10 February- carbon (1 p. on 1 l.): another possible collector: Enrique D’Arce
FMC to RKE: AMNH, 12 Feb.- holograph (2 p. on 1 l.): approves RKE’s suggestion

Folder 9 April- May 1940:

RKE to FMC: [Swarthmore PA], 19 April- carbon (1 p. on 1 l.): reason for Ratibor’s delay in replying; likelihood of securing birds “considerably greater”
FMC to RKE: AMNH, 1 May- typed (1 p. on 1 l.): sparrows,’ transportation expenses; Davis’s paper in the Auk
RKE to FMC: [Swarthmore PA], 7 May- carbon (1 p. on 1 l.): transportation rates; requests specimen of Brachyspiza
FMC to RKE: AMNH, 9 May- typed (1 p. on 1 l.): sending reproduction of Fuertes drawing of Brachyspiza; Vogt and Phelps will be at Pan-American Congress; the copy of the Fuertes drawing of Brachyspiza
RKE to FMC: [Swarthmore PA], 14 May- carbon (1 p. on 1 l.): transportation rates; impending trouble with Germany
RMC to RKE: AMNH, 18 May- typed (1 p. on 1 l.): studies of Brachyspiza; “crossed by the possibilities of war”; agrees that Enders is right not to go to Panama now; Barro Colorado made part of Smithsonian with an annual appropriation of $10,000

Folder 10: 1941- 1943 (plus extraneous carbon to Cherbonnier):

FMC to RKE: AMNH, 11 June 1941- typed (1 p. on 1 l.): Dr. Murphy has learned of a route to the summit of Baudos; FMC wants an outline of the route of Pearson and to know how much attention he paid to birds, including number of specimens collected
Lloyd Merritts to FMC: [Swarthmore PA], 12 June 1941- carbon (1 p. on 1 l.): RKE has sailed for Panama; copy of his letter is being forwarded to Pearson
FMC to RKE: AMNH, 30 July 1941- typed (1 p. on 1 l.): not going to Baudo region as long as Schauensee is there; danger of generalizations from insufficient data; identity of mainland and Coiba birds, including “probably” Zonotrichia
RKE to FMC: [Swarthmore PA], 8 Feb. 1943- carbon (1 p. on 1 l.): gave FMC’s “name to the Office of the Officer Purcurment [sic] as one who could speak of my knowledge of the tropics”; testing and proving equipment for arctic work; with Parson halved length of gestation of the marten.
FMC to RKE: Coconut Grove, FL, 13 Feb [1943?]- holograph (2 p. on 1 l.): “I’ll see that any requests for information are properly handled.”
RKE to Mr. E.G. Cherbonnier: [Swarthmore PA] 12 Feb. 1940- carbon (1 p. on 1 l.): will not avail himself of Cherbonnier’s offer of information on confidential food tests until his work for the Department of Agriculture is completed

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Processed by Jeffrey H. Kaimowitz, 9/16/96
Prepared for electronic publication by Michael J. Breen ’99, July, 1999