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Eisenberg, John Frederick, 1935-  Search this
18 cu. ft. (18 record storage boxes)
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Black-and-white photographs
circa 1960-1982 and undated
This finding aid was digitized with funds generously provided by the Smithsonian Institution Women's Committee.
Descriptive Entry:
The Venezuela Project (1974-1982) was one of three big projects that Dr. Eisenberg directed during his time at the National Zoological Park. The papers documenting this project include grant information and progress reports, correspondence between Sr. Tomas Blohm (research took place on his ranch), information on personnel who participated in the project, financial records connected to the project, background information and publicity, and other correspondence. Included are photographs and newspaper clippings. The Ceylon Project included research on elephants (1967-1976) and primates (1968-1982). Papers connected to this project include a research agreement with the Ceylonese government, grant information and progress reports, financial records, correspondence with Dittus Wolfgang, George McKay, and other researchers in Ceylon, and information on elephant immobilization techniques learned from the Ringling Brothers' elephant handlers. Angela Daugharty writes an interesting letter connected to the elephant project. Suzanne Ripley, co-investigator, was an integral part of the research done in Ceylon, but none of her correspondence is found here. Oddly enough the correspondence between Eisenberg and Ripley is found in box 16. Papers document research on pregnant elephants and dugongs. Correspondence from contacts within the Ceylonese infrastructure is included. The Panama project was the third large, long-term project that Dr. Eisenberg was involved in. In Panama research centered on sloths, howler monkeys, iguanas, anteaters, and various plant studies done in conjunction with the two-toed sloths. All of these are represented to some degree in the Panama files. Grant and financial records, logistics paperwork, progress reports, and several manuscripts are also included. Correspondence is mainly from Dr. Montgomery, who led the research effort in Panama. Dr. Eisenberg, in his capacity as head of the research office at the National Zoological Park, received information from many sources on many subjects. The bulk of this paperwork can be found in his subject files. Information in these files comes from research projects as well as events within the Zoological Park. Subjects touched upon include a memorandum listing possible projects for the 1976 Bicentennial at the National Zoological Park, a memorandum on carcasses, correspondence on the Deer Project, various research reports, and reports on the Sleep Project. Information from the Smithsonian Foreign Currency Program is also included. Like the subject files, the general correspondence files cover a broad spectrum of people and activities, and document Eisenberg's career within and outside the Smithsonian. Correspondence comes from educators, graduate students, Smithsonian staff, research scientists, members of professional societies, and curators. Many of these contacts are personal and some are international; they include discussion of possible drugs to immobilize wolves, letters from people inquiring about the white tigers, letters on speaking engagements, references provided by Eisenberg, and even a Christmas card. Some correspondents also sent reports dealing with research in the zoological field. Eisenberg was a member of many scientific societies and published in many scientific journals. He was often invited to attend conferences and to review articles by other scientists in his field; this component of his professional life is documented in this collection. Papers include book reviews by Eisenberg, letters from Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company, correspondence between Eisenberg and various publishers, reports on various topics, newsletters from the Animal Behavior Society, correspondence on conferences (mostly Animal Behavior Society), information on International Ethological Conferences, research proposals, Carnivore roundtables, symposiums sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution, and correspondence from academic institutions. Other miscellaneous files document his work in education, at the National Zoological Park as an administrator and as a researcher, and in various professional organizations. In one case papers document his relationship with a fellow employee. Files include a research proposal for the elephant physiology project, correspondence between Eisenberg and various coworkers (especially Suzanne Ripley), manuscripts, and memoranda on zoo projects. Also included are guidebooks, brochures, and maps of zoos in the United States and abroad. Site plans, progress reports, and assorted financial records (including receipts from Ceylon), round out this component of the Eisenberg collection.
Historical Note:
John Eisenberg was born June 20, 1935 in Everett, Washington. He received a B.S. at Washington State University in 1957 and an M.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1959. He received a Ph.D. in zoology from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1962 and went to the University of British Columbia, where he stayed from 1962 to 1964 as an assistant professor of zoology. In 1964 he accepted a post at the University of Maryland, College Park, as assistant professor of zoology and in 1965 was made research associate professor of zoology. In 1972 he became a research professor at the University of Maryland. In 1973 he was made an associate of the Department of Mental Hygiene at Johns Hopkins University, and he held this title until 1978. In 1964 the National Zoological Park (NZP) organized a division to do research. On September 1, 1965 Eisenberg was appointed to the post of resident scientist in the Division of Research at the National Zoological Park. He worked with Edwin Gould of John's Hopkins University on an ecological and behavioral study of the tenrecoid insectivores of Madagascar from January 1966 to April 1966. In January 1967 he left for Ceylon to initiate an elephant research project. At the end of January he returned to Madagascar to continue his studies of the tenrecoid. In April he returned to Washington, D.C., then flew back to Ceylon in May for field inspections of the elephant project. He started a year-long residency in Ceylon June 10, 1968, and during October did another field inspection as well as teaching a course to Ceylonese personnel on immobilizing wild elephants. In January he met with Dr. Paul Leyhausen of the Max Planck Institute. By 1970 the fieldwork on the Ceylon Elephant Project was complete. In 1971 the research division, under his direction, started the captive breeding of papcaranas and a research project on sloths in Panama. In March he was the acting director for the Zoological Program; he went back to being resident scientist in 1972 because the Zoological Program was dissolved. The study on the sloth continued in Panama during 1972. He became president of the Animal Behavior Society in 1973, and the scientist in charge of the office of Scientific Research at the National Zoological Park. The sloth study continued in Panama, led by Dr. G. C. Montgomery. During 1974 progress was made on 24 research projects that included: the sloth study, a study of the behavior scoring of female mammals in heat, and reproduction in caviomorph rodents. He was also involved with the Thirteenth International Congress of Ethology that took place in Washington, D.C. In January 1975 he left for Venezuela to do herpetological and mammalian studies, and research in Venezuela continued until June. The Venezuelan field projects at Guatopo National Park and the ranch of Sr. Tomas Blohm started in earnest in 1976. During 1977 the Venezuelan projects continued, and a new project on the vocal communication in cogeneric wrens started in Panama. These projects continued through 1978, and a new project studying the toque monkey in Ceylon started as well. In 1979 Dr. Eisenberg was made the assistant director for animal programs at the National Zoological Park. He became responsible for all animal and educational programs run by the National Zoological Park. Vertebrate Ecology in the Northern Neotropics, which he edited, was published in 1980 by the Smithsonian Press. In 1981 he did a field study of the Cuban solendon in Cuba and visited various national parks in India. In April he spent three weeks in China discussing the possibility of setting a series of research projects based in a national park. In September his monograph, The Mammalian Radiations, was published. He also received the prestigious C. Hart Merriam award from the American Society of Mammalogists in 1981. He continued in the post of assistant director of animal and education programs until August 21, 1982, when he resigned to become Ordway professor of ecosystem conservation at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
Zoology  Search this
Black-and-white photographs
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7411, John F. Eisenberg Papers
Record Unit 7411
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John F. Eisenberg Papers
Archival Repository:
Smithsonian Institution Archives