Beebe, Charles William, 1877-1962

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Charles William Beebe (born July 29, 1877, Brooklyn, New York – died June 4, 1962, Simla, Trinadad Tobago), American naturalist, ornithologist, marine biologist, entomologist, explorer, and author. He is remembered for the numerous expeditions he conducted for the New York Zoological Society, his deep dives in the Bathysphere, and his prolific scientific writing for academic and popular audiences.

Born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in East Orange, New Jersey, Beebe left college before obtaining a degree to work at the then newly opened New York Zoological Park, where he was given the duty of caring for the zoo's birds. He quickly distinguished himself in his work for the zoo, first with his skill in designing habitats for its bird population, and soon also with a series of research expeditions of increasing length, including an expedition around the world to document the world's pheasants. These expeditions formed the basis for a large quantity of writing for both popular and academic audiences, including an account of his pheasant expedition titled A Monograph of the Pheasants and published in four volumes from 1918 to 1922. In recognition of the research conducted on his expeditions, he was granted honorary doctorates from Tufts and Colgate University.

During the course of his expeditions, Beebe gradually developed an interest in marine biology, ultimately leading to his 1930s dives in the Bathysphere, along with its inventor, Otis Barton, off the coast of Bermuda. This was the first time a biologist observed deep-sea animals in their native environment and set several successive records for the deepest dive ever performed by a human, the deepest of which stood until it was broken by Barton 15 years later. Following his Bathysphere dives, Beebe returned to the tropics and began to focus his study on the behavior of insects. In 1949, he founded a tropical research station in Trinidad and Tobago which he named Simla, and which remains in operation as part of the Asa Wright Nature Centre. Beebe's research at Simla continued until his death from pneumonia in 1962 at the age of 84.

William Beebe is regarded as one of the founders of the field of ecology, as well as one of the early 20th century's major advocates of conservation. He is also remembered for several theories he proposed about avian evolution which are now regarded as having been ahead of their time, particularly his 1915 hypothesis that the evolution of bird flight passed through a four-winged or "Tetrapteryx" stage, which has been supported by the 2003 discovery of Microraptor gui.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Beebe, William, 1877-1962. Letters and photograph, 1902-1938. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn New York Zoological Park. Office of the General Curator. Records, [ca. 1915-1952] Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn New York Zoological Society. Department of Tropical Research. New York Zoological Society. Department of Tropical Research. General records, 1900-1971. Wildlife Conservation Society Library, Bronx Zoo Library
referencedIn New York Zoological Society. Dept. of Tropical Research. Terrestial expeditions to British Guiana and Venezuela records, 1916-1943. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn New York Zoological Society. Dept. of Tropical Research. Oceanographic expeditions to the West Indies aboard Antares and Hardi Biaou records, 1932-1936. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
creatorOf Beebe, William, 1877-1962. Letter. Smithsonian Institution. Libraries
referencedIn Autograph File, B, ca.1500-1976. Houghton Library
referencedIn New York Zoological Society. Dept. of Tropical Research. Bermuda oceanographic expeditions records, 1929-1949. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn New York Zoological Society. Dept. of Tropical Research. Oceanographic expeditions aboard vessels Noma and Arcturus records, 1923-1925. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn New York Zoological Society. Office of the General Director. John Tee-Van records, 1917-1964. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn New York Zoological Society. Dept. of Tropical Research. Simla Station (Trinidad). Terrestial expeditions records, 1949-1961. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Kieran, John, 1892-1981. Papers of John Kieran, 1917-1981. Library of Congress
creatorOf Beebe, Charles William, 1877-1962. Memorabilia, [ca. 1900-1962] Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn John Kieran Papers, 1917-1985 Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Gloria Hollister Anable Papers, 1916-2003, (bulk 1929-1936) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Trotter, Betty. Papers, 1925 Independence Seaport Museum
creatorOf Beebe, William, 1877-1962,. The kartabo morning journal, or, The comptes rendus de la société de bête rouge : typescript, 1920. Princeton University Library
referencedIn New York Zoological Society. Dept. of Tropical Research. Office of the Director and General Associate. Records, 1909-1947. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
creatorOf Beebe, William, 1877-1962. [Letter written to librarian of Indiana university, Aug. 18, 1928, requesting copies of "Indiana university studies"] Indiana University
referencedIn New York Zoological Society. Office of the President. Records, 1906-1940. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Gannett, Lewis, 1891-1966. Papers, 1681-1966 (bulk 1900-1960) Houghton Library
creatorOf Beebe, William, 1877-1962. Letter : N.Y. to Howard L. Goodhart, 1948 Nov. 22. Bryn Mawr College, Mariam Coffin Canaday Library
referencedIn Hornaday, William T. (William Temple), 1854-1937. Papers of William Temple Hornaday, 1866-1975 (bulk 1906-1936). Library of Congress
creatorOf George Washington Corner papers, 1889-1981, 1903-1982 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Henry Allen Moe Papers, 1920-1975 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Schwarz, Herbert Ferlando, 1883-1960. Collection, 1921-1957 (bulk 1930-1950). American Museum of Natural History
referencedIn Rachel Carson papers, 1921-1989 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn New York Zoological Society. Dept. of Tropical Research. General records, 1900-1970. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn New York Zoological Park. Office of the Director and General Curator. Accession memoranda, [ca. 1899-1920]. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn William T. Hornaday Papers, 1866-1975, (bulk 1906-1936) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn New York Zoological Park. Dept. of Birds. Office of Curator. William Beebe and Lee S. Crandall records, 1899-1926. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Anable, Gloria Hollister. Gloria Hollister Anable papers, 1916-2003 (bulk 1929-1936). Library of Congress
creatorOf Beebe, William, 1877-1962. Letters : to Norman [Bel Geddes], 1933 Feb. 28 and 1935 April 24. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn New York Zoological Society. Dept. of Tropical Research. Rancho Grande Station (Venezuela). Terrestial expeditions records, 1945-1949. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn New York Zoological Park. Office of the Director and General Curator. Records 1895-1940. Wildlife Conservation Society Library, Bronx Zoo Library
referencedIn National Lanier Centennial Committee. National Lanier Centennial Committee records, 1939-1945. Johns Hopkins University, Sheridan Libraries and the Milton S. Eisenhower Library
referencedIn Flagg, Mildred Buchanan, 1886-1980. Papers, 1876-1955 (inclusive), 1900-1955 (bulk). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Moe, Henry Allen, 1894-1975. Papers, [ca. 1920]-1975. American Philosophical Society Library
creatorOf United States. Naval Air Systems Command. Assault on the Unknown: Ocean Research Platforms, 1972. [motion picture] University of California, San Diego, UC San Diego Library; UCSD Library
creatorOf Beebe, William, 1877-1962. William Beebe papers, 1830-1961 (bulk 1920-1959) Princeton University Library
referencedIn New York Zoological Society. Dept. of Tropical Research. Oceanographic expeditions aboard the vessel Zaca records, 1936-1938. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Century Company records, 1870-1924 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
creatorOf Beebe, William, 1877-1962. Letter to Benjamin F. Shambaugh. New York, NY. 1936 Nov. 30. University of Iowa Libraries
referencedIn New York Zoological Society. Department of Tropical Research. New York Zoological Society. Department of Tropical Research. Office of Director and Office of General Associate. William Beebe and John Tee-Van records, 1909-1947. Wildlife Conservation Society Library, Bronx Zoo Library
creatorOf Penard, Frederik Paul. The birds of Guiana / Translator unknown. Wildlife Conservation Society Library, Bronx Zoo Library
referencedIn New York Zoological Park. Dept. of Birds. Office of Curator. William Beebe records, 1894-1932. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
creatorOf Beebe, William, 1877-1962. Correspondence to Franklin Baldwin Wiley, 1909. University of Pennsylvania Library
creatorOf Beebe, William, 1877-1962. Letters. 1922-1929. Dartmouth College Library
referencedIn Hawkins, Arthur. Papers of Arthur Hawkins [manuscript], 1929-1970. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn New York Zoological Society. Office of the General Director. John Tee-Van records, 1939-1964. Wildlife Conservation Society Library, Bronx Zoo Library
referencedIn George Sarton additional papers, 1901-1956 Houghton Library
referencedIn Corner, George Washington, 1889-1981. Papers, 1903-1982. American Philosophical Society Library
creatorOf William King Gregory papers, 1889-1948 (bulk 1906-1948) American Museum of Natural History
referencedIn Carson, Rachel, 1907-1964. Rachel Carson papers 1921-1989. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Chambers, Will Grant, 1867-1949. W.G. Chambers correspondence concerning Pennsylvania State College Institute of English Education, 1924-1929 (bulk 1926-1928). Pennsylvania State University Libraries
creatorOf Beebe, William, 1877-1962. Letter, 1926, August 16, New York, to Philip D. Sherman, Oberlin, Ohio. Brown University Archives, John Hay Library
referencedIn Houghton Mifflin Company contracts, 1831-1979 (inclusive) 1880-1940 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn Ellery Sedgwick photographs, ca. 1900-1942. Massachusetts Historical Society
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
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associatedWith Bermuda Oceanographic Expeditions. corporateBody
associatedWith Bok, Edward William, 1863-1930, person
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correspondedWith Century Company corporateBody
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correspondedWith Dellenbaugh, Frederick Samuel, 1853-1935 person
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correspondedWith Gannett, Lewis, 1891-1966 person
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associatedWith Geddes, Norman Bel, 1893-1958. person
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associatedWith Gregory, William K. (William King), 1876-1970. person
associatedWith Hawkins, Arthur. person
associatedWith Hornaday, William T. (William Temple), 1854-1937. person
associatedWith Houghton Mifflin Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Institute for Sex Research. corporateBody
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associatedWith Kane, Elisha Kent, 1820-1857 person
correspondedWith Kieran, John, 1892-1981. person
associatedWith Kinsey, Alfred C., (Alfred Charles), 1894-1956 person
associatedWith Klebs, Arnold C., (Arnold Carl), 1870-1943 person
associatedWith Lindbergh, Charles A., (Charles Augustus), 1902-1974 person
associatedWith Mencken, H. L., (Henry Louis), 1880-1956 person
associatedWith Moe, Henry Allen, 1894-1975. person
associatedWith Muller, H. J., (Hermann Joseph), 1890-1967 person
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associatedWith National Lanier Centennial Committee. corporateBody
associatedWith National Research Council (U.S.). Committee for Research in Problems of Sex. corporateBody
associatedWith New York World's Fair (1939-1940) corporateBody
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associatedWith New York Zoological Park. Office of the Director and General Curator. corporateBody
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associatedWith New York Zoological Society. Department of Tropical Research. corporateBody
associatedWith New York Zoological Society. Department of Tropical Research. corporateBody
associatedWith New York Zoological Society. Dept. of Tropical Research. corporateBody
associatedWith New York Zoological Society. Dept. of Tropical Research. corporateBody
associatedWith New York Zoological Society. Dept. of Tropical Research. corporateBody
associatedWith New York Zoological Society. Dept. of Tropical Research. corporateBody
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associatedWith New York Zoological Society. Dept. of Tropical Research. corporateBody
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associatedWith New York Zoological Society. Dept. of Tropical Research. Simla Station (Trinidad). corporateBody
associatedWith New York Zoological Society. Office of the General Director. corporateBody
associatedWith New York Zoological Society. Office of the General Director. corporateBody
associatedWith New York Zoological Society. Office of the President. corporateBody
associatedWith Penard, Frederik Paul. person
associatedWith Planned Parenthood Federation of America. corporateBody
correspondedWith Pond, James B. (James Burton), 1838-1903 person
associatedWith Raacke, Ilse Dorothea, 1925- person
associatedWith Rockefeller Institute. corporateBody
associatedWith Romer, Alfred Sherwood, 1894-1973 person
associatedWith Rugg, Harold Goddard, 1883-1957. person
associatedWith Sabin, Florence Rena, 1871-1953 person
correspondedWith Sarton, George, 1884-1956 person
associatedWith Schwarz, Herbert Ferlando, 1883-1960. person
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associatedWith Shambaugh, Benjamin Franklin, 1871-1940, person
associatedWith Sherman, Philip D. (Philip Darrell), 1881-1957, person
associatedWith Singer, Charles Joseph, 1876-1960 person
associatedWith Stockard, Charles R., (Charles Rupert), 1879-1939 person
associatedWith Stone, Walter King, 1875-1949. person
associatedWith Streeter, George Linius, 1873-1948 person
associatedWith Sudhoff, Karl, 1853-1938 person
associatedWith Trotter, Betty person
associatedWith United States. Naval Air Systems Command. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Oxford. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Rochester. corporateBody
associatedWith Weed, Lewis H., (Lewis Hill), 1886-1952 person
associatedWith Whipple, George Hoyt, 1878- person
associatedWith Yerkes Laboratories of Primate Biology, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Yerkes, Robert Mearns, 1876-1956 person
associatedWith Zuckerman, Solly Zuckerman, Baron, 1904-1993 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Bermuda Islands
Guiana
Atlantic Ocean
Galapagos Islands
United States
Mexico
Tropics
Asia
California, Gulf of (Mexico)
Venezuela
Pacific Ocean
West Indies
Singapore
Subject
Natural history--20th century
Scientific expeditions--20th century
Jungle animals
Birds--Collection and preservation--20th century
Hormones, Sex
Bookplates--Collectors and collecting
Entomology
Fishes--Classification--20th century
Animals--Ientification--20th century
Rhesus monkey
Human reproduction--Endocrine aspects
Island animals
Medicine--Research--United States
Deep-sea fishes--20th century
Animals--Identification--20th century
Abyssal zone
Zoology 20th century
Medicine--History
Bathyscaphe
Ornithology
Pheasants
Reproduction
Marine biology
Ornithology--20th century
Insects--20th century
Oceanography--Research--20th century
Occupation
Ornithologists
Naturalists--20th century.--United States
Zoologists--20th century.--United States
Naturalist
Marine biologists
Entomologists
Activity
Zoologists

Person

Birth 1877-07-29

Death 1962-06-04

Active 1877

Active 1962

Americans

English

Information

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