Merriam, Clinton Hart, 1855-1942

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1855-12-05
Death 1942-03-19
Americans
English

Biographical notes:

C. Hart Merriam was a biologist who work for the Smithsonian Institution from 1910-1939. Merriam was born December 5, 1855 in New York City. His childhood was spent in Locust Grove, Lewis County, New York. Merriam’s father introduced him to Prof. Spencer Baird who attached the seventeen year old Merriam to a government expedition, the Hayden Survey. He spent a summer collecting birds and eggs in the Yellowstone region. That year, he attended college, first at the Pingry Military School in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and later at Williston Seminary of Easthampton, Massachusetts. Following short stays at each school, in 1874 he went to Yale where he spent three years in the Sheffield Scientific School. Merriam transferred from Yale to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia, receiving his M.D. in 1879. In 1883, Merriam was elected secretary of the newly organized, American Ornithologists’ Union, and became chairman of the Committee on Bird Migration. Merriam's work at the end of the 19th century was instrumental is the emerging field of ecology. His field work and affiliation with the US Department of Agriculture led to his "life zones" concept being highly regarded throughout science. His theory focused on mapping how plants and animals are distributed across landscapes, and how they succeed at different levels from base to summit. Throughout time, Merriam’s interest in mammals began to grow. In 1885 he was chosen to head the Section of Economic Ornithology in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Through his urging, the focus shifted from strictly birds to include mammals and in 1886 became known as Division of Economic Ornithology and Mammalogy. In 1896 the name again changed to the U.S. Biological Survey, and ultimately the organization is known today as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The following year he organized and directed the Harriman Alaska Expedition. He was a member and one time president of the Biological Society and of the Anthropological Society. He was a co-founder of the National Geographic, serving on the Board of Directors for 54 years. Merriam was also active in founding the Washington Academy of Sciences and was one of the men consulted in laying the original plans for the Carnegie Institution. Hart's sister, Florence Merriam Bailey, became a distinguished observer of American birds in her own right. Merriam had met her through his colleague Vernon Bailey, whom he corresponded with in 1883. Bailey was a very skilled collector, and worked extensively in the western U.S. for Merriam and the Biological Survey. His later years were spent studying California Indians, and he maintained a home in Washington and another in Lagunitas, California. In 1886 he married to Elizabeth Gosnell, of Martinsburg, West Virginia and they had two daughters. Merriam died at the age of 87 on March 19, 1942.

Smithsonian Institution Archives Field Book Project: Person : Description : rid_300_pid_EACP297

Naturalist, zoologist, and ethnologist.

From the description of Papers of C. Hart Merriam, 1873-1938. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 81776761

Naturalist and founder of the U.S. Biological Survey (1885-1910). Studied California Indians, recording their languages (ca. 1898-1938).

From the description of C. Hart Merriam papers relating to work with California Indians, 1850-1974 (bulk 1898-1938). (University of California, Berkeley). WorldCat record id: 86118205

From the description of C. Hart Merriam papers : including correspondence, papers relating to career with the United States Biological Survey, 1798-1972 (bulk 1871-1942) (University of California, Berkeley). WorldCat record id: 26643603

Biographical Sketch

  • 1855: Born in New York, December 5 to Clinton Levi Merriam, a merchant, banker, and member of Congress and Caroline Hart Merriam. Siblings include an older brother, Charles Collins Merriam, and younger sister, Florence Merriam. Florence married an associate of C. Hart's, Vernon Bailey.
  • 1872: Naturalist, Hayden Survey of the territories.
  • 1877: A Review of the Birds of Connecticut published.
  • 1879 - 1885 : Received M.D. degree Columbia University. Practiced medicine for six years.
  • 1883: Surgeon, S.S. Proteus Arctic Seal Fishery from Newfoundland.
  • 1884: Mammals of the Adirondacks published.
  • 1885 - 1910 : Appointed Special Agent in charge of Economic Ornithology under the Division of Entomology of the Department of Agriculture. This division evolved into the U.S. Biological Survey, of which Merriam was named chief. He held the position for twenty-five years.
  • 1886: October 15. Married Virginia Elizabeth Gosnel.
  • 1889: U.S. Biological Survey to the San Francisco Mountains, Arizona. Merriam developed the life zone concepts.
  • 1890: May 21. Daughter Dorothy born.
  • 1891: U.S. Biological Survey of Death Valley, California. Merriam revised and expanded the life zone concepts.
  • 1891: Appointed by President Harrison to a commission to investigate the problems of pelagic sealing in the Bering Sea.
  • 1891 - 1892 : President, Biological Society of Washington.
  • 1892: April 14. Daughter Zenaida born.
  • 1898: U.S. Biological Survey of Mount Shasta, California.
  • 1899: Harriman Alaska Expedition.
  • 1900 - 1902 : President, American Ornithologist's Union.
  • 1905: "Indian Population of California" published.
  • 1907: "Distribution and Classification of the Mewan Indians of California" published.
  • 1910: Resigned from U.S. Biological Survey. Began biological and ethnological investigations with financial support from the E. H. Harriman Fund. Ethnological work was primarily with California Indian tribes. Continued until 1936.
  • 1910: Dawn of the World published.
  • 1917 - 1925 : Chairman, U.S. Board on Geographic Names.
  • 1919 - 1921 : President, American Society of Mammalogists.
  • 1920 - 1921 : President, Anthropological Society of Washington.
  • 1924 - 1925 : President, American Society of Naturalists.
  • 1928: An-nik-a-del, the History of the Universe, as told by the Modes-se Indians of California published.
  • 1931: Received Roosevelt Medal "for distinguished work in biology."
  • 1942: Died in Berkeley, California, March 19 at age of eighty-six.
Posthumous Publications Boundary Descriptions of California Indian Stocks and Tribes. Co-authored with Zenaida Merriam Talbot; edited by Robert F. Heizer.Berkeley:Archaeological Research Facility,1974. Chumash Place Name Lists. Compilations by A. L. Kroeber,C. Hart Merriam, and H. W. Henshaw; edited by R. F. Heizer. Berkeley:Archaeological Research Facility,1975. Ethnogeographic and Ethnosynonymic Data From Northern California Tribes. Assembled and edited by Robert F. Heizer. Berkeley:Archaeological Research Facility, Department of Anthropology, University of California,1976. Ethnographic Notes on California Indian Tribes. Compiled and edited by Robert F. Heizer.Berkeley:University of California Archaeological Research Facility,1966-67. Indian Names For Plants and Animals Among Californian and Other Western North American Tribes. Assembled and annotated by Robert F. Heizer.Socorro, N.M.:Ballena Press,1979. Studies of California Indians. Edited by the staff of the Department of Anthropology of the University of California. Berkeley:University of California Press,1955. "Village Names in Twelve California Mission Records." Assembled and edited by Robert F. Heizer. Berkeley: Reports of the University of California Archaeological Survey, no. 74 (1968). Selected Bibliography Grinnell, Hilda Wood.Bibliography of Clinton Hart Merriam.[S.l.: s.n., 1943?] Osgood, Wilfred Hudson. Biographical Memoir of Clinton Hart Merriam, 1855-1942. Washington:National Academy of Sciences,1945. Biographical memoirs (National Academy of Sciences U.S.); v. 24, 1st memoir. Phillips, Arthur Morton [et. al.]. Expedition to the San Francisco Peaks: C. Hart Merriam and the Life Zone Concept. Flagstaff, Ariz.:Museum of Northern Arizona,1988. Plateau; v. 60, no. 2. Sterling, Keir B.Last of the Naturalists: the Career of C. Hart Merriam.New York:Arno Press,1974 (revised 1977) Talbot, Zenaida Merriam. "Obituary." Science, vol. 95, no. 2474 (May 29, 1942),pp. 545-546.

From the guide to the C. Hart Merriam Papers, Volume 2: Correspondence; Papers Relating to Career With United States Biological Survey, 1798-1972, (bulk 1871-1942), (The Bancroft Library)

Biographical Sketch

  • 1855: Born in New York, December 5 to Clinton Levi Merriam, a merchant, banker, and member of Congress and Caroline Hart Merriam. Siblings include an older brother, Charles Collins Merriam and younger sister Florence Merriam. Florence married an associate of C. Hart's, Vernon Bailey.
  • 1872: Naturalist on the Hayden Survey of the territories.
  • 1877: A Review of the Birds of Connecticut published.
  • 1879 - 1885 : Received M.D. Columbia University. Practiced medicine for 6 years.
  • 1883: Surgeon on S.S. Proteus Arctic Seal Fishery from Newfoundland.
  • 1884: Mammals of the Adirondacks published.
  • 1885 - 1910 : Appointed Special Agent in charge of Economic Ornithology under the Division of Entomology of the Dept. of Agriculture. This Division evolves into the U.S. Biological Survey, of which Merriam is named chief. He holds the position for 25 years.
  • 1886: October 15. Marries Virginia Elizabeth Gosnel.
  • 1889: U.S. Biological Survey to the San Francisco Mountains, Arizona. The life zone concepts are developed.
  • 1890: May 21. Daughter Dorothy born.
  • 1891: Appointed by President Harrison to a commission to investigate the problems of pelagic sealing in the Bering Sea.
  • 1891 - 1892 : President, Biological Society of Washington
  • 1892: April 14. Daughter Zenaida born.
  • 1898: U.S. Biological Survey of Mount Shasta, California.
  • 1899: Harriman Alaska Expedition
  • 1900 - 1902 : President, American Ornithologist's Union
  • 1905: Indian Population of California published.
  • 1907: Distribution and Classification of the Mewan Indians of California published.
  • 1910: Resigns from U.S. Biological Survey. Begins biological and ethnological investigations with Harriman special trust fund. Ethnological work is primarily with California Indian tribes. Continues until 1936.
  • 1910: Dawn of the World published.
  • 1917 - 1925 : Chairman, U.S. Board on Geographic Names
  • 1919 - 1921 : President, American Society of Mammalogists
  • 1920 - 1921 : President, Anthropological Society of Washington
  • 1924 - 1925 : President, American Society of Naturalists
  • 1928: An-nik-a-del, the History of the Universe, as told by the Modes-se Indians of California published.
  • 1931: Receives Roosevelt Medal "for distinguished work in biology."
  • 1942: Dies in Berkeley, Calif., March 19 at age of 86.

From the guide to the C. Hart Merriam Collection of Native American Photographs, ca. 1890-1938, (The Bancroft Library. University of California, Berkeley.)

Biographical Sketch

  • 1855: Born in New York, December 5 to Clinton Levi Merriam, a merchant, banker, and member of Congress and Caroline Hart Merriam. Siblings include an older brother, Charles Collins Merriam, and younger sister, Florence Merriam. Florence married an associate of C. Hart's, Vernon Bailey.
  • 1872: Naturalist, Hayden Survey of the territories.
  • 1877: A Review of the Birds of Connecticut published.
  • 1879 - 1885 : Received M.D. degree Columbia University. Practiced medicine for six years.
  • 1883: Surgeon, S.S. Proteus Arctic Seal Fishery from Newfoundland.
  • 1884: Mammals of the Adirondacks published.
  • 1885 - 1910 : Appointed Special Agent in charge of Economic Ornithology under the Division of Entomology of the Department of Agriculture. This division evolved into the U.S. Biological Survey, of which Merriam was named chief. He held the position for twenty-five years.
  • 1886: October 15. Married Virginia Elizabeth Gosnel.
  • 1889: U.S. Biological Survey to the San Francisco Mountains, Arizona. Merriam developed the life zone concepts.
  • 1890: May 21. Daughter Dorothy born.
  • 1891: U.S. Biological Survey of Death Valley, California. Merriam revised and expanded the life zone concepts.
  • 1891: Appointed by President Harrison to a commission to investigate the problems of pelagic sealing in the Bering Sea.
  • 1891 - 1892 : President, Biological Society of Washington.
  • 1892: April 14. Daughter Zenaida born.
  • 1898: U.S. Biological Survey of Mount Shasta, California.
  • 1899: Harriman Alaska Expedition.
  • 1900 - 1902 : President, American Ornithologist's Union.
  • 1905: "Indian Population of California" published.
  • 1907: "Distribution and Classification of the Mewan Indians of California" published.
  • 1910: Resigned from U.S. Biological Survey. Began biological and ethnological investigations with financial support from the E. H. Harriman Fund. Ethnological work was primarily with California Indian tribes. Continued until 1936.
  • 1910: Dawn of the World published.
  • 1917 - 1925 : Chairman, U.S. Board on Geographic Names.
  • 1919 - 1921 : President, American Society of Mammalogists.
  • 1920 - 1921 : President, Anthropological Society of Washington.
  • 1924 - 1925 : President, American Society of Naturalists.
  • 1928: An-nik-a-del, the History of the Universe, as told by the Modes-se Indians of California published.
  • 1931: Received Roosevelt Medal "for distinguished work in biology."
  • 1942: Died in Berkeley, California, March 19 at age of eighty-six.
Posthumous Publications Boundary Descriptions of California Indian Stocks and Tribes. Co-authored with Zenaida Merriam Talbot; edited by Robert F. Heizer.Berkeley:Archaeological Research Facility,1974. Chumash Place Name Lists. Compilations by A. L. Kroeber,C. Hart Merriam, and H. W. Henshaw; edited by R. F. Heizer. Berkeley:Archaeological Research Facility,1975. Ethnogeographic and Ethnosynonymic Data From Northern California Tribes. Assembled and edited by Robert F. Heizer. Berkeley:Archaeological Research Facility, Department of Anthropology, University of California,1976. Ethnographic Notes on California Indian Tribes. Compiled and edited by Robert F. Heizer.Berkeley:University of California Archaeological Research Facility,1966-67. Indian Names For Plants and Animals Among Californian and Other Western North American Tribes. Assembled and annotated by Robert F. Heizer.Socorro, N.M.:Ballena Press,1979. Studies of California Indians. Edited by the staff of the Department of Anthropology of the University of California. Berkeley:University of California Press,1955. Village Names in Twelve California Mission Records. Assembled and edited by Robert F. Heizer. Berkeley: Reports of the University of California Archaeological Survey,no. 74 (1968). Selected Bibliography Grinnell, Hilda WoodBibliography of Clinton Hart Merriam.[S.l.: s.n., 1943?] Osgood, Wilfred Hudson.Biographical Memoir of Clinton Hart Merriam, 1855-1942.Washington:National Academy of Sciences,1945. Biographical memoirs (National Academy of Sciences U.S.); v. 24, 1st memoir. Phillips, Arthur Morton [et. al.]. Expedition to the San Francisco Peaks: C. Hart Merriam and the Life Zone Concept.Flagstaff, Ariz.:Museum of Northern Arizona,1988. Plateau; v. 60, no. 2. Sterling, Keir B.Last of the Naturalists: the Career of C. Hart Merriam.New York:Arno Press,1974 (revised 1977) Talbot, Zenaida Merriam. "Obituary." Science, vol. 95, no. 2474 (May 29, 1942),pp. 545-546.

From the guide to the C. Hart Merriam Papers, Volume 1: Papers Relating to Work with California Indians, 1850-1974, (bulk 1898-1938), (The Bancroft Library)

Loading...

Loading Relationships

Information

Permalink:
http://n2t.net/ark:/99166/w67s7sj8
Ark ID:
w67s7sj8
SNAC ID:
26644181

Subjects:

  • Indians of North America--Languages
  • Anthropological linguistics
  • Cocopa Indians--Maps, Manuscript
  • Biogeography
  • Natural history
  • Biogeography--Maps
  • Ornithology
  • Life zones
  • Life zones--Maps
  • Ornithologists
  • Botany
  • Names, Indian
  • Grizzly bear--Maps
  • Bears
  • Indians of North America--Maps
  • Indians of North America
  • Wildlife conservation
  • Bering Sea controversy
  • Indians of North America--Photographs
  • Ethnology--Photographs
  • Anthropological linguistics--Photographs
  • Mammals
  • Indians of North America--Social conditions
  • Indians of North America--Maps, Manuscript
  • Indians of North America--Social life and customs

Occupations:

  • Ethnologists
  • Biologists
  • Photographers
  • Naturalist
  • Zoologists
  • Ornithologists

Places:

  • North America (as recorded)
  • Canada (as recorded)
  • Nevada (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Mexico (as recorded)
  • California (as recorded)
  • West (U.S.) (as recorded)
  • California (as recorded)
  • California (as recorded)
  • Alaska (as recorded)
  • California (as recorded)
  • Arizona (as recorded)
  • North America (as recorded)
  • Adirondack Mountains (N.Y.) (as recorded)
  • California (as recorded)
  • California (as recorded)
  • Alaska (as recorded)
  • Alaska (as recorded)
  • Southwest, New (as recorded)
  • US; concerns Great Britain. (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Nevada (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • California (as recorded)
  • West (U.S.) (as recorded)
  • North America (as recorded)
  • Idaho (as recorded)
  • Southwest, New (as recorded)
  • Arctic regions (as recorded)