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Dan Lewis – Robert Ridgway and the Modern Study of Birds

Associate Research Professor of History of Claremont Graduate University and Dibner Senior Curator for the History of Science and Technology at the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens

Robert Ridgway, the Smithsonian’s first Curator of Birds, was one of the world’s top ornithologists, systematists and bird artists, impactful in a wide variety of ways and disciplines. He remains little-known today, but he played an essential role in the development of the modern study of birds. He also was a direct inspiration to William Brewster, founder of the NOC. Dr. Lewis will discuss the history of Ridgway’s work, what it has meant for the study of birds, and what its implications are for the future of conservation.

A native of Hawai’i, Daniel Lewis is the Dibner Senior Curator for the History of Science and Technology at the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens in Southern California. He is an environmental historian who writes mostly about birds and the history of ornithology. He holds the PhD from the University of California in History, and has a faculty appointment in environmental humanities at Caltech, as well as serving as Associate Research Professor of History of Claremont Graduate University. At Caltech, he teaches the country’s only course on the anthropocentric history of extinction.

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