San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature ConnectionHistory of the Museum

Laurence Markham Huey (1892 - 1963)

Early years
At the museum
One Naturalist's Legacy

Papers on Guadalupe Island
Scientific Publications
Popular Articles

Trips to Coronado Islands
Trip to Trinidad Whaling Station
Field Notes

Related Links

History and Biographies
Research Library Archives

Laurence Markham Huey (1892 - 1963) was Curator for the Department of Birds and Mammals at SDNHM for 38 years, 1923-1961. An energetic collector and photographer, he rose from humble beginnings to make a significant contribution to the world of science.

Early years

"I was born September 6, 1892, on a farm in the Tia Juana Valley, California, within a stone’s throw of the International Boundary. Have always loved fields with their flowers, birds and animals. I tried very often to preserve the heads of the quail my father brought in from his hunting trips when [I was] still a small boy. Collected birds’ eggs in spite of parental opposition and regular chastisement for the offence.

Huey’s lifelong interest in natural history apparently began at the age of 3 when "a Mexican farm hand gave him a collection of swallows’ eggs."* His association with the Museum began a little later; he was introduced to the institution by his manual training teacher, W.S. Wright, later a Museum entomologist. Thus began a longstanding acquaintance with the museum and its staff.

"Met Frank Stephens, one of the pioneer naturalists of the southwest, when still in my early teens, and this meeting furthered my determination to pursue natural history as a life work.

My school days ended with the eighth grade and I have been on my own ever since."

In 1908, at the age of 16, he joined Kate Stephens’ Naturalist class at the museum. When he was 21, in 1913, he was on a trip to the Coronado Islands and met Donald R. Dickey, "a wealthy bird collector and photographer," with whom he was to work for the next 10 years. Huey became an official member of the San Diego Natural History Society the next year, 1914.

"I met Donald R. Dickey and spent ten happy years collecting birds and mammals in California and Arizona and learned considerable photography while helping him make pictures for Dawson’s book Birds of California. Also at this time I became interested in mammalogy as well as ornithology. This was primarily due to the influence of three persons–Stephens, Dickey and A.B. Howell."

Huey, like many others before him, maintained his interest in natural history as a part-time vocation ‘til, unlike many of his contemporaries, he was able to turn it into a full-time job.

"During the fall and winter months, when not helping Dickey, I worked at hard labor–in lumber yards, gardening, and the like, but never for one instant forgot my interest in natural history.

The guiding star of opportunity came in March, 1923, when I was appointed to the staff of the Natural History Museum in San Diego, California…"