Leonhard Stejneger (1851-1943) was born in Norway. In 1881 he left for the United States and arrived in Washington, D.C., where he soon began working with the birds of the New World at the Smithsonian Institution with particular interest in aquatic birds. In December 1884 he was appointed Assistant Curator in the Department of Birds under Robert Ridgway, Curator. In 1889 after the resignation of Henry Crecy Yarrow, Honorary Curator of the Department of Reptiles and Batrachians, Stejneger became the first full-time Curator for the Department. In 1903 he served as Acting Head Curator of the Department of Biology for several months, and in 1911 he was appointed Head Curator of the Department of Biology after Frederick William True vacated the post. From that time until his death Stejneger served both as Head Curator of the Department of Biology and Curator of the Division of Reptiles and Batrachians. He also chaired a Smithsonian committee which considered manuscripts for publication.
In addition to his herpetological and ornithological work, Stejneger was recognized as an authority on the fur seals of the North Pacific. He began his studies in this field when he was sent to the Commander Islands for the United States Signal Service in 1882, and made a number of trips to the area between then and 1922. In 1896, Stejneger was appointed to the International Fur Seal Commission by President Grover Cleveland. In connection with his fur seal work, Stejneger researched and published a biography of Georg Wilhelm Steller, 1936.
Stejneger also played an important role in international zoological meetings and was elected to the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature in 1898.
Description in control file.
Addl. KW Subjects
(RU 7441) Music Massachusetts
(1) Manuscripts, notes, and related materials on herpetology, circa 1890-1943; (2) manuscripts, notes, and related materials on fur seals, 1882-1924; (3) manuscripts, notes, and related materials on ornithology, circa 1867-1905; (4) manuscripts, notes, and related materials on European fauna, circa 1904-1914; (5) manuscripts, notes, and related materials on Georg Wilhelm Steller, circa 1882-1941; (6) diaries, notebooks, and account books, 1882-1913 and undated; (7) photographs, circa 1882-1916; (8) scrapbooks, undated; (9) outgoing correspondence, 1877-1882; (10) personal materials, honors, and genealogy, 1875-1932; (11) miscellany, 1902, 1904 and undated; (12) add acquisition, 1753, 1853-1945; (13) add acquisition, oversize, 1893-1935; (14) add acquisition, circa 1930-1941
The papers of Leonhard Stejneger consist of manuscripts on Japanese herpetology, Chinese herpetology, Puerto Rican and West Indian herpetology, North American herpetology, poisonous snakes, turtles, fur seals, ornithology, European fauna, and the study of life zones; manuscripts, general notes, bibliographic notes, and correspondence regarding the publication of Stejneger's biography of Georg Wilhelm Steller and a copy of Steller's Ausfuhrliche Beschreibung von sonderbaren Meerthieren, 1753; diaries, notebooks, and account books covering much of the time Stejneger spent at zoological congresses and on field trips; photographs of fur seals and natives of the North Pacific-Bering Sea area; photographs of mammal skulls and skeletons; scrapbooks; outgoing correspondence; and personal material.
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Capital Gallery, Suite 3000, MRC 507; 600 Maryland Avenue, SW; Washington, DC 20024-2520