Robert Ridgway Bird Specimen Drawings
Ornithologist Robert Ridgway (1850-1929) was born in Mount Carmel, Illinois. In 1864, he wrote the Smithsonian seeking help in identifying a bird he had seen. Ridgway and Smithsonian Secretary, Spencer Fullerton Baird, began corresponding, and, in effect, Baird became Ridgway's mentor. In 1867 Baird secured an appointment for Ridgway as zoologist on Clarence King's Geological Survey of the Fortieth Parallel. Upon his return to Washington in 1869, Ridgway was put to work by Baird to furnish the technical descriptions and certain of the drawings for a book on North American birds being prepared by Baird and Thomas Mayo Brewer.

In 1874 Ridgway was appointed an ornithologist on the staff of the Smithsonian's United States National Museum. In 1880, he was appointed Curator of the Department of Ornithology. Ridgway remained Curator until his death in 1929.

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