Personalities Who Have Shaped The MVZ


The persons listed below are just a few of the individuals who have left their mark on the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology in the first half of the 20th century.

Annie Montague Alexander (1867-1950)

Founder of the both the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology (MVZ) and the University of California Museum of Paleontology (UCMP) and the benefactress of those museums for more than 40 years.

Barbara Blanchard

Blanchard gained distinction as Grinnell's last graduate student and only the second woman to be accepted into the Museum's graduate program. Her work on White-crowned Sparrows was one of the first studies to demonstrate important natural history differences between races of a given species.

Harold Child Bryant (1886-1961)

Associated with the Museum from 1913-1927 as a Field Assistant, Assistant Curator of Birds, and Economic Ornithologist, Bryant also worked for the California Department of Fish and Game while at MVZ. He left the Museum for a position with the National Park Service, eventually serving as Superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park.

Charles Lewis Camp (1893-1975)

Camp collected specimens for the Museum between 1913-1915 before receiving his Ph.D from Columbia University in 1923 in paleontology. He eventually became Director of the UCMP.

Joseph S. Dixon (1884-1952)

While still an undergraduate at Throop Institute, Dixon accompanied Alexander to Alaska in 1907 and 1908, primarily to collect birds. Upon completing his biology degree he worked for the Museum as Assistant Curator of Mammals and Economic Ornithologist before leaving to work for the National Park Service in 1931.

Mary Marilla Erickson

In 1931, Erickson became the first female graduate student in the Museum. During the winter of 1933-1934 she accompanied Alexander and Kellogg on a collecting expedition through the deserts of Southern California, Arizona, and New Mexico. Upon completion of her degree in 1934, Grinnell declared that Erickson was, "...the best teaching assistant I ever had, men included."

Joseph Grinnell (1877-1939)

The MVZ's first Director, serving from 1908-1939, as well as a driven field biologist, consummate curator, meticulous editor, and incomparable authority on the birds and mammals of the West Coast.

Eugene Raymond Hall (1902-1986)

As one of Grinnell's first and brightest graduate students, Hall went on to become Curator of Mammals and Acting Director when Grinnell took his first sabbatical in 1938. Hall left the University in 1941 to assume a position as Professor of Zoology, Curator of Mammals, and Director of the Museum of Natural History at The University of Kansas, Lawrence.

Edmund Heller (1875-1939)

Heller and Swarth were both hired from the Field Museum in Chicago in 1908. After accompanying Alexander to Alaska that summer, Heller took a leave of absence from the Museum to accompany Teddy Roosevelt to Africa. He and the former President co-authored Life-histories of African Game Mammals and he never returned to MVZ.

Louise Kellogg (1879-1967)

An intrepid naturalist who, in conjunction with Annie M. Alexander, explored the West from Alaska to the tip of Baja California for more than half a century. These two women contributed more than 25,000 fossil, plant, and animal specimens to the University's natural history museums. In 1910, Kellogg published the second paper in mammalogy in the U.S. known to be authored by a woman.

Chester Converse Lamb (1883-19??)

Employed by the Museum between 1925 and 1932, Lamb started as a Field Assistant and rose to become Assistant Curator of Mammals. He spent much of his life in Mexico and collected extensively in Baja California.

Alden Holmes Miller (1906-1965)

Miller was one of the first individuals to hold a joint appointment in the Department of Zoology and the MVZ. He served as Assistant Curator of Birds, assuming the directorship of the Museum upon Grinnell's death in 1939.

Charles Howard Richardson (1887-19??)

Richardson was one of two young men hired as Collectors when the Museum opened its doors in 1908, as Grinnell and Alexander believed that it was best to hire individuals with their accomplishments still ahead of them.

Ward Russell (1907-    )

Hired in 1929, Russell served as the Museum's preparator and collector for the next forty years. As collector, he had an opportunity to go into the field with virtually all students and faculty of the MVZ. His recollections of these trips provide a vivid picture of those personalities and an invaluable record of field life.

Frank Stephens (1849-1937)

In 1906 Stephens published a volume entitled California Mammals which won the acclaim of North American biologists. Alexander then hired him to accompany her to Alaska in 1907 to collect small mammals. Although never a full-time member of the Museum staff, Alexander continued to pay Stephens to collect for the Museum for many years thereafter.

Tracey Irwin Storer (1889-1973)

As a Field Assistant, and later as Assistant Curator of Birds, Storer co-authored several well-known volumes with other members of the Museum staff (e.g., Game Birds of California (1918), Animal Life in the Yosemite (1924), California Grizzly (1955)). In 1923 he moved to the College of Agriculture at U.C. Davis to become Assistant Professor of Zoology.

Harry Schelwald Swarth (1878-1935)

Even as a young man growing up in Chicago, Swarth had an early interest in birds. He joined the Museum staff in 1908 as Assistant Curator and, in 1910, he was promoted to Curator of Birds, the same year that he married Joseph Grinnell's sister-in-law, Hilda Grinnell's younger sister. In 1927, he left the MVZ and accepted a curatorial position at the Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.

Walter Penn Taylor (1888-19??)

Taylor had been an undergraduate at Throop Institute under Grinnell from 1906-1908. Both he and Richardson were then hired by the MVZ after Grinnell's appointment as Director. Taylor went on to become Assistant Curator and later Curator of Mammals, before going to work for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Margaret Wilhelmina Wythe (1880-19??)

Wythe began her MVZ career in 1912 as Grinnell's assistant, but by 1925 she had become so valuable that she was promoted to Assistant Curator of Birds. Most of the base maps and range maps used in Grinnell's 1944 publication, Distribution of the Birds of California, were prepared by Wythe.


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