Some Biogeographers, Evolutionists and Ecologists:
Chrono-Biographical Sketches

Stejneger, Leonhard Hess (Norway-United States 1851-1943)
zoology, natural history

Stejneger, who had always had an interest in zoology, emigrated to the United States in 1881 when the family business went under in Norway. He soon attracted the attention of Spencer Baird at the Smithsonian and began working under the supervision of the ornithologist Robert Ridgway. He moved steadily up the ladder, eventually reaching the title of head curator of biology. Stejneger specialized in vertebrate natural history studies; although he started out working primarily on birds he gained his greatest reputation with reptiles and amphibians, also studying mammals. His publications exceeded four hundred in total. His stints in the field included visits to the Commander Islands, Kamchatka, Puerto Rico, the Alps, the U. S. Southwest, the South Dakota badlands, and Japan. He was also heavily engaged in administrative work, conservation efforts, and society work, and managed to keep active all the way into his tenth decade of life.

Life Chronology

--born in Bergen, Norway, on 30 October 1851.
--1871: first publications, in the Journal für Ornithologie
--1875: graduates with law degree from the University of Kristiania, Oslo
--1881: emigrates to the United States; starts working at the National Museum of Natural History
--1882-1883: studies seals in the Commander Islands for the U. S. Fish Commission
--1884-1889: assistant curator of birds, National Museum of Natural History
--1887: becomes U. S. citizen
--1889: made first curator of reptiles and batrachians at the National Museum of Natural History
--1889: collects reptiles and amphibians with C. Hart Merriam in Arizona; studies life zones there
--1895: again visits the Commander Islands for the U. S. Fish Commission
--1896, 1897: named to the International Fur Seal Commission
--1900: collects reptiles and amphibians in Puerto Rico
--1900: earns a gold medal at the Paris Exposition for his work on fur seals management and conservation
--1901-1935: delegate to the International Zoological Congress seven times
--1906: made a Knight First Class of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olaf
--1907: publishes his Herpetology of Japan and Adjacent Territory
--1907-1908: president, Biological Society of Washington
--1911-1943: head curator of biology, U. S. National Museum (exempted from retirement by special Presidential order in 1921)
--1919: president, American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists
--1922: again visits the Commander Islands, this time for the Dept. of Commerce
--1923: elected to the National Academy of Sciences
--1931: made honorary president for life of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists
--1939: made a Commander of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olaf
--dies at Washington, D.C., on 28 February 1943.

For Additional Information, See:

--Biographical Memoirs, National Academy of Sciences (U.S.A.), Vol. 24 (1947).
--American National Biography, Vol. 20 (1999).
--National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 14 (1910).
--Dictionary of Scientific Biography, Vol. 13 (1976).
--Biographical Dictionary of American and Canadian Naturalists and Environmentalists (1997).
--Systematic Zoology, Vol. 13(4) (1964): 243-249.
--Copeia, (3) (1931): 75-83.

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

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