Bailey, Alfred Marshall, 1894-1978

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1894-02-18
Death 1978-02-25
Americans
English

Biographical notes:

Alfred M. Bailey was the second director of the Denver Museum of Natural History (now the Denver Museum of Nature & Science), serving from 1936 to his retirement in 1969. During this time, the museum achieved world recognition as a leading natural history museum with extensive collections and stunning displays of wildlife from around the world. Bailey was born in 1894 in Iowa City, Iowa. He studied museum methods at the University of Iowa, where he expanded his interests to include taxidermy and photography. While an undergraduate, he participated in one of the university's expeditions studying the unique ecology of the northwestern Hawaiian island of Laysan. After receiving his degree in 1916, Bailey was curator of birds and mammals for the Louisiana State Museum in New Orleans until 1919. In 1917 he married Muriel Eggenberg in Iowa City. In 1919 the Baileys moved to Juneau, Alaska, where Bailey was the first representative of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in southeastern Alaska. During this time, the Denver Museum convinced him to come to work for it and to collect specimens for its planned Arctic collections. In 1921 he became Curator of Birds and Mammals, and he continued fieldwork in the Arctic. In 1926 Bailey moved to the Field Museum in Chicago where he participated in an expedition to Abyssinia (present-day Ethiopia). He then served as director of the Chicago Academy of Sciences from 1927 until 1936, when he returned to the Denver Museum as director. Bailey believed that fieldwork was the lifeblood of a natural history museum. Accordingly, he enlisted interest and financial support for many museum expeditions and collecting trips around the world. He traveled to Australia, New Zealand, Alaska, Labrador, Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands and Botswana, personally making motion pictures to record these adventures. An excellent fundraiser, Bailey directed modernization of the museum and four major building additions that housed growing collections. The Museum gained international recognition for its accurately detailed wildlife dioramas and special exhibits. Bailey received numerous awards and an honorary doctorate for his work in natural history and leadership at the museum. One great personal contribution was in ornithology. He wrote for National Geographic and other popular magazines and had numerous works published in books and important scientific journals. His most recognized work is Birds of Colorado, co-authored by Robert J. Niedrach and published in 1965 by the Museum. Other publications include Birds of Arctic Alaska, published in 1948, The Red Crossbills of Colorado, published in 1953, and Field Work of a Museum Naturalist, Alaska, published in 1971, all by the DMNH and available at DMNS' Bailey Library. In 1969, after 33 years as director, Bailey stepped down and accepted the title Director Emeritus. He continued to come to the museum and concentrated on writing about his observations from a field journal that he had kept consistently from the time of his first expedition in 1912. He died in 1978.

From the description of Alfred M. Bailey papers 1912-1978. (Denver Museum of Nature & Science). WorldCat record id: 68571079

Naturalist and author.

From the description of Papers of Alfred M. Bailey, 1949-1955. (University of Iowa Libraries). WorldCat record id: 233111469

Ornithologist and photographer. Began his scientific career as curator of birds and mammals for the Louisiana State Museum. Later worked for the U.S. Biological Survey. Became Director, Denver Museum of Natural History, 1919.

From the description of Papers, 1965-1967. (Denver Public Library). WorldCat record id: 29459927

Alfred Marshall Bailey (1894-1978) was an ornithologist who collected birds in Alaska in 1920.

Smithsonian Institution Archives Field Book Project: Person : Description : rid_817_pid_EACP814

Alfred M. Bailey was the second director of the Denver Museum of Natural History (now the Denver Museum of Nature & Science), serving from 1936 to his retirement in 1969. During this time, the museum achieved world recognition as a leading natural history museum with extensive collections and stunning displays of wildlife from around the world.

Bailey was born in 1894 in Iowa City, Iowa. He studied museum methods at the University of Iowa, where he expanded his interests to include taxidermy and photography. While an undergraduate, he participated in one of the university's expeditions studying the unique ecology of the northwestern Hawaiian island of Laysan. After receiving his degree in 1916, Bailey was curator of birds and mammals for the Louisiana State Museum in New Orleans until 1919. In 1917 he married Muriel Eggenberg in Iowa City. In 1919 the Baileys moved to Juneau, Alaska, where Bailey was the first representative of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in southeastern Alaska. During this time, the Denver Museum convinced him to come to work for it and to collect specimens for its planned Arctic collections. In 1921 he became Curator of Birds and Mammals, and he continued fieldwork in the Arctic. In 1926 Bailey moved to the Field Museum in Chicago where he participated in an expedition to Abyssinia (present-day Ethiopia). He then served as director of the Chicago Academy of Sciences from 1927 until 1936, when he returned to the Denver Museum as director.

Bailey believed that fieldwork was the lifeblood of a natural history museum. Accordingly, he enlisted interest and financial support for many museum expeditions and collecting trips around the world. He traveled to Australia, New Zealand, Alaska, Labrador, Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands and Botswana, personally making motion pictures to record these adventures. An excellent fundraiser, Bailey directed modernization of the museum and four major building additions that housed growing collections. The Museum gained international recognition for its accurately detailed wildlife dioramas and special exhibits.

Bailey received numerous awards and an honorary doctorate for his work in natural history and leadership at the museum. One great personal contribution was in ornithology. He wrote for National Geographic and other popular magazines and had numerous works published in books and important scientific journals. His most recognized work is Birds of Colorado, co-authored by Robert J. Niedrach and published in 1965 by the Museum. Other publications include Birds of Arctic Alaska, published in 1948, The Red Crossbills of Colorado, published in 1953, and Field Work of a Museum Naturalist, Alaska , published in 1971, all by the DMNH and available at DMNS' Bailey Library.

In 1969, after 33 years as director, Bailey stepped down and accepted the title Director Emeritus. He continued to come to the museum and concentrated on writing about his observations from a field journal that he had kept consistently from the time of his first expedition in 1912. He died in 1978.

From the guide to the Alfred M. Bailey Papers and Photographs, 1912-1978, (Denver Museum of Nature & Science)

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Subjects:

  • Natural history museum directors
  • Museum curators
  • Haida Indians
  • Ornithology
  • Chilkat Indians
  • Natural history museum directors--Colorado
  • Birds
  • Ornithologists
  • Naturalists
  • Authors, American
  • Yupik Eskimos
  • Zoology
  • Botany
  • Museum curators--Colorado

Occupations:

  • Photographers
  • Ornithologists

Places:

  • Alaska (as recorded)
  • Colorado (as recorded)
  • Arctic regions (as recorded)
  • Colorado (as recorded)
  • Iowa (as recorded)