Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Chrono-Biographical Sketches

Barbour, Thomas (United States 1884-1946)
herpetology, natural history

Photo courtesy of The Auk.
Thomas Barbour is perhaps most remembered for his productive years as director of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, but his career also embraced travel and collecting, writing (nearly four hundred publications), and even some intelligence work in Cuba during World War I. A man of independent means, Barbour spent a good deal of time traveling all around the world, both as observer and collector. He had an especial affinity for the American tropics, however, and most of his writings, both technical and popular, concern this area. As a zoologist he is primarily known for his work on the taxonomy and natural history of reptiles and amphibians, but also made significant contributions to ornithology. Barbour's studies convinced him that the contemporary dispersalist theories of W. D. Matthew were inadequate; he instead favored explanations for inter-continental affinities based on the posed past existence of now-collapsed land bridges.

Life Chronology

--born on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, on 19 August 1884.
--1906: A.B. in zoology, Harvard University
--1907-1908: delegate to the first Pan-American Scientific Congress, Santiago, Chile
--1908: A.M. in zoology, Harvard University
--1910: Ph.D., Harvard University
--1910-1925: associate curator, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University
--1914: publishes "A Contribution to the Zoögeography of the West Indies, with Especial Reference to Amphibians and Reptiles" in the Memoirs of the Museum of Comparative Zoölogy at Harvard College
--1917: publishes A Check List of North American Amphibians and Reptiles, with Leonhard Stejneger
--1922: named lecturer in zoology, Harvard University (later made professor)
--1923-1945: executive officer, Barro Colorado Island Laboratory, Gatun Lake, Panama
--1924-1927: president, Boston Society of Natural History
--1925-1927: curator of herpetology, Museum of Comparative Zoology
--1927-1946: director, Museum of Comparative Zoology
--1927: named custodian of the Atkins Institution's botanical garden at Soledád, Cuba
--1930: honorary Sc.D., Havana University
--1933: elected to the National Academy of Sciences
--1934, 1935: visits locations in Africa
--1935: honorary Sc.D., Dartmouth University
--1940: honorary Sc.D., Harvard University
--1940-1946: president, Boston Society of Natural History
--1943: publishes his Naturalist at Large
--1945: publishes his A Naturalist in Cuba
--dies at Boston, Massachusetts, on 8 January 1946.

For Additional Information, See:

--Biographical Memoirs, National Academy of Sciences (U.S.A.), Vol. 27 (1952).
--The Auk, Vol. 65(3) (1948): 432-438.
--Herpetologica, Vol. 3(2) (1946): 33-39.
--Systematic Zoology, Vol. 13(4) (1964): 227-234.
--American National Biography, Vol. 2 (1999).
--Dictionary of American Biography, Supplement Four (1974).
--American Naturalist, Vol. 80(790) (1946): 214-216.

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Copyright 2005 by Charles H. Smith. All rights reserved.

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