The Frederick H. Test papers consist of field notes, correspondence, specimen records, publication manuscripts, study data,
photographic negatives, and 35mm slides. The collection contains the extensive data, specimen records, notes, publication
drafts, and correspondence pertaining to Frederick H. Test's 1940 dissertation on the feather pigmentation of Colaptes as
well as his other work between the dates of 1930-1991 across the United States and Venezuela.
Frederick H. Test was an eminent zoologist and distinguished field biologist most noted for his pioneering work on Flicker
(Colaptes) pigmentation and for his studies of amphibians in Venezuela. Test was raised in Lafayette, Indiana in an academic
household and earned his B.S. in Biology from Purdue University, where his father Louis A. Test taught. He then completed
a Master’s at Cornell University and earned a Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of California, Berkeley in 1940 under the
instruction of Alden H. Miller of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology. His Ph.D. research at Berkeley consisted of a chemical
analysis of feather pigmentation through experimentation on and study of indoor captive Flickers, a method of study never
before used, in order to show that their coloration was dependent on carotenoid ingestion. While earning his Ph.D., Test met
and married Avery Ransome Grant, who was also getting her Ph.D. in Zoology from Berkeley at the time. The two moved to Ann
Arbor, Michigan in 1940 where Test became a Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Michigan and Avery R. Test
became a researcher at the University.
It was in Michigan that he spent most of his professional career, authoring over 50 scientific publications and teaching Vertebrate
Biology at the University’s Biological Station on Douglas Lake from 1951-1955 and 1957-1972. During his professional career
Test was the Associate Editor of the journal Ecology, was granted the Ruth M. Sinclair Award for Excellence in Counseling
in 1974, and was given the titles of Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences at the University of Michigan in 1978 and Honorary
Professor by the Central University of Venezuela. Test taught in Venezuela while on leave from the University of Michigan
and conducted much of his own scholarly research there. In 1979 he retired from teaching and moved with his family to Asheville,
North Carolina, where he remained until his death in 2010 at the age of 97. In his later life he was remembered as, “a dignified
gentleman scholar” with “reservedly dapper field attire” who was “pleasant, informed, and patient in conversation” (Nelson
3) but academically he will be remembered for his excellence in teaching, mentorship, and academic scholarship which has greatly
impacted the field of biology.
Nelson, Sue. "We Will Miss: Frederick H. Test." Douglas Lake Improvement Association Newsletter (May 2010): 1-4.
Sunderland, Mary E. "Collections Based Research at Berkeley's Museum of Vertebrate Zoology." Historical Studies in the Natural
Sciences 42, 2 (2012): 83-113. Web. 8 July 2013. DOI: 10.1525hsns.2012.42.2.83.
Test, Frederick H. The Nature of the Red, Yellow, and Orange Pigments in Woodpeckers of the Genus Colaptes. Diss. University
of California, Berkeley, 1940. Ann Arbor: UMI. AAT 0164663.
Copyright restrictions may apply. All requests to publish, quote, or reproduce must be submitted to the Museum of Vertebrate
Zoology Archives in writing for approval. Please contact the Museum Archivist for further information.