a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


Murphy, Chapin and Zimmer


Getting back to Europe. Invitation to work in New York
Ernst Mayr Scientist
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

Finally after seven weeks my steamer arrived in Marseilles and I first went home to see my mother in Dresden and then immediately went off to Berlin to start working on my collections that I had made in the Mandated Territory. And I worked there quite hard but I realised I had to see the material of other museums and I visited the Tring... Lord [Walter] Rothschild's museum in Tring in England. I visited the museums in Paris, in London and in Leiden in Holland. I also on... during this summer, I might give the date when I arrived back in Marseilles, it was around the 1st of May [1930], and in June or July was a great international ornithological congress in Amsterdam. And there I met Doctor [Frank M] Chapman who was the Chairman of the Bird Department of the American Museum [of Natural History], and this was very important to have met him because it is in connection with an offer that came from the Museum later that year. Well, by the time of... of October I had about two thirds finished my report on my collections when a letter arrived from Doctor Chapman asking me whether I would be interested to come to the American Museum in New York for one year to work on the unworked collections of the Whitney South Sea expedition. It was a rather nominal salary and no tenure, of course, it was going to be for one year, not renewable. Well, this was of course, very exciting. I knew what wonderful collections they were, and I said, 'Well, if you can wait until January, by that time I'll have finished my report on the Mandated Territory, and then I'll be glad to come'. Well, Chapman accepted that and on the 19th of January [1931] I arrived in New York where I settled down at the International House, near Columbia University, and then on the 20th of January I appeared at the Museum. Chapman was away in Panama to do studies on tropical birds, but there rest of the staff received me with open arms, particularly [Robert C] Murphy, [James P] Chapin, and [John T] Zimmer, the three other members of the staff.

The late German-American biologist Ernst Mayr (1904-2005) was a leading light in the field of evolutionary biology, gaining a PhD at the age of 21. He was also a tropical explorer and ornithologist who undertook an expedition to New Guinea and collected several thousand bird skins. In 1931 he accepted a curatorial position at the American Museum of Natural History. During his time at the museum, aged 37, he published his seminal work 'Systematics and Origin of the Species' which integrated the theories of Darwin and Mendel and is considered one of his greatest works.

Listeners: Walter J. Bock

Walter J. Bock is Professor of Evolutionary Biology at Columbia University. He received his B.Sc. from Cornell and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard. His research lies in the areas of organismal and evolutionary biology, with a special emphasis on functional and evolutionary morphology of the skeleto-muscular system, specifically the feeding apparatus of birds.

Tags: Mandated Territory of New Guinea, Tring, England, Paris, London, Leiden, Holland, Marseilles, 01-05-1930, Amsterdam, American Museum of Natural History, 19-01-1931, New York, International House, New York, 20-01-1931, Panama, Walter Rothschild, Frank M Chapman, Robert C Murphy, James P Chapin, John T Zimmer

Duration: 2 minutes, 34 seconds

Date story recorded: October 1997

Date story went live: 24 January 2008