Birdseye, Clarence, 1886-1956

Variant names

Hide Profile

Clarence Birdseye (1886-1956) revolutionized the frozen food industry with his invention of the "quick-freeze machine" in 1925. Birdseye attended Amherst College from 1906 to 1908. In 1912 he took a job as a fur trader in the arctic Peninsula of Labrador in Canada, traveling by dogsled buying and collecting furs until January 1916. By observing the Eskimos in Labrador, Birdseye discovered the quick-freeze process that would prove so successful. The 13 handwritten field journals in this collection document his experiences during these exciting years, and describe how he learned about the indigenous people's food preservation techniques. There is also mention of Birdseye's work and friendship with Sir Wilfred Grenfell, the famous medical missionary. The journals also contain Birdseye's scientific reports, definitions of new terminology, and medical notes. One of the journals was written by Perry W. Terhune, who ran Birdseye's store while Birdseye traveled. Clarence Birdseye was awarded an honorary Masters Degree by Amherst College in 1941. (Introduction adapted from Alison Edwards Petrilla's description of the collection.)

From the guide to the Clarence Birdseye (AC 1910) Journals Collection, 1910-1916, (Amherst College Archives and Special Collections)

Clarence Birdseye (1886-1956) conducted field work for the U.S. Biological Survey during the early twentieth century in the regions of the United States (Southwest, Great Lakes, and Midwest), and Labrador, Canada. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, on December 9, 1886. He attended Amherst College to get a degree in Biology, but did not graduate. Instead, he went on to work for the U.S. Biological Survey as a field naturalist. He went to the Arctic to observe the people who lived there, and to trade fur. He noticed how any left exposed would freeze instantly. He began to take notes of everything he was finding. He eventually discovered frozen foods. He went to New York City and developed his own Company, Birdseye Seafoods, Inc. It took him two years of experimentation to figure out how to safely freeze food. His company was a success and still is today. He died on October 8, 1956.

Smithsonian Institution Archives Field Book Project: Person : Description : rid_559_pid_EACP556

Clarence Frank Birdseye II (b. Brooklyn, New York, December 9, 1886-d. October 7, 1956, New York City), American inventor, entrepreneur, and naturalist, and considered to be the founder of modern frozen food industry.

From the description of Birdseye, Clarence Frank, II, 1886-1956 (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration). naId: 10599874

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Harden Franklin Taylor papers, 1920-1965. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
referencedIn Taylor, Harden Franklin, 1890-1966. Harden Franklin Taylor papers, 1920-1965. Cornell University Library
creatorOf Clarence Birdseye (AC 1910) Journals Collection, 1910-1916 Amherst College Archives and Special Collections
creatorOf Records of the Patent and Trademark Office. 1836 - 1978. Selected Patent Files. 1840 - 2005. 1773080 - Animal Food Product - Clarence Birdseye National Archives at College Park
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Grenfell, Wilfred Thomason, Sir, 1865-1940 person
associatedWith Harden Franklin, Taylor 1890-1966. person
associatedWith Taylor, Harden Franklin, 1890-1966. person
associatedWith Terhune, Perry W. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Newfoundland and Labrador.


Birth 1886-12-09

Death 1956-10-07




Ark ID: w6mc9vkk

SNAC ID: 41929109