Evermann, Barton Warren, 1853-1932

Alternative names
Birth 1853-10-24
Death 1932-09-27

Biographical notes:

Barton Warren Evermann was a botanist who collected in Alaska, Idaho, and Indiana in the late 19th century.

Smithsonian Institution Archives Field Book Project: Person : Description : rid_298_pid_EACP295

Biographical note

Barton Warren Evermann, educator, scientist, and long-time director of the California Academy of Sciences, was born on October 24, 1853 in Monroe County, Iowa. Evermann's family moved to Indiana while he was still a child and it was there that he grew up, completed his education, and married. While teaching in Carroll County, Indiana he met fellow teacher Meadie Hawkins. They were married on October 24, 1875. They had a son, Toxaway Bronte, born in 1879, and a daughter, Edith, born in 1894.

In his professional life, Evermann had three overlapping careers: educator, ichthyologist, and director of the California Academy. From 1871 to 1879 he was a teacher and administrator in the public schools of Howard and Carroll counties, Indiana. He then moved to Ventura County, California, where he taught from 1879 to 1881. Returning to Indiana, Evermann served as superintendent of the Carroll County schools from 1883-1885 while taking a break from his undergraduate studies at Indiana University. After obtaining his B.S. in zoology in 1886, Evermann took a job as professor and head of the department of biology of the Indiana State Normal School, where he remained until 1891. Even after moving on to his scientific career, Evermann maintained an interest in education, giving special courses of lectures at Cornell and Yale between 1900 and 1906, and serving as Vice President of the District of Columbia Board of Education between 1906 and 1910. And as director of the California Academy of Sciences he placed great emphasis on the role of museums in public education.

Evermann began his scientific career under the tutelage of biologist David Starr Jordan, whom he first met in 1877 while Jordan was a professor at Butler University. Meadie Evermann was then a student in one of Jordan's classes and in 1878 the Evermanns joined Jordan and a group of other students on an extended hiking and study trip from Kentucky to Georgia. Evermann did not begin his formal education under Jordan until his return to Indiana in 1881. As Jordan was now president of Indiana University, Evermann enrolled as a student there, earning his B.S. in 1886, A.M. in 1888, and finally his Ph. D. in 1891. Many of Evermann's earliest publications are in ornithology, but under Jordan's influence Evermann soon took up ichthyology as his specialty. They later went on to co-author numerous publications together.

While a professor at the Indiana State Normal School, Evermann took a series of temporary positions with the United States Fish Commission, participating in expeditions to different parts of the country each summer from 1886 to 1890. In 1891, Evermann took a permanent position with the Fish Commission (which was renamed the Bureau of Fisheries in 1903), where he would remain until 1914. He was given a series of positions of increasing responsibility, serving as head of the Division of Scientific Inquiry from 1903 to 1910 and chief of the Alaska Division from 1911 to 1914. He was also appointed U.S. Fur Seal Commissioner for 1892 and was chairman of the Fur Seal Board from 1908 to 1914. And from 1905-1914 he was also Curator of Fishes at the U.S. National Museum.

In 1914, Evermann left the Bureau of Fisheries to become director of the California Academy of Sciences, a position he held until his death in 1932. As director, Evermann played important roles in restructuring the museum's exhibits around habitat groups, establishing the Steinhart Aquarium, and in acquiring several important specimen collections, including the Indiana University fish collection, which was transferred in 1929. Evermann was also active in the field of conservation. In 1914 and 1915 the Academy carried out a substantial project to relocate Tule Elk, which were in danger of extinction, to various locations around the state of California, and throughout the 1910s and 1920s Evermann was an energetic advocate for the conservation of marine mammals. In addition to these activities, Evermann continued to publish on scientific topics, ultimately authoring or co-authoring 387 publications in total. Evermann kept up his work until he was overcome by illness in the summer of 1932. He died in Berkeley, California on September 27, 1932 at the age of 78.


G. Dallas Hanna, "Barton Warren Evermann," Science 76, no. 1971 (Oct. 7, 1932): 317-18.

G. Dallas Hanna, "Barton Warren Evermann, 1853-1932," Copeia 1932, no. 4 (Dec. 31, 1932): 161-62.

Indiana University Alumni Quarterly, Alumni Notes by Classes, April 1929, 287-89.

Mark R. Jennings, "Barton Warren Evermann (1853-1932) and His Contributions to North American Ichthyology," in Collection Building in Ichthyology and Herpetology, ed. Theodore W. Pietsch and William D. Anderson, Jr. (Lawrence, Kan: American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, 1997), 291-310.

Remington Kellogg, "Barton Warren Evermann," Journal of Mammalogy 14, no. 4 (Nov. 1933): 394.

T. S. P., "Obituary," The Auk 50, no. 4 (Oct. 1933) : 465-66.

From the guide to the Evermann (Barton Warren) papers, undated, (California Academy of Sciences, Special Collections)


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Ark ID:


  • Golden trout
  • Fishes
  • Northern fur seal
  • Ichthyologists
  • Tule elk
  • Birds
  • Ichthyology
  • Wildlife conservation
  • Whaling
  • Science--History
  • Natural history museum directors
  • California Academy of Sciences--Executive directors


  • Botanists


  • California (as recorded)
  • Alaska. (as recorded)
  • Maxinkuckee, Lake (Ind.) (as recorded)