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Stephens (Frank) Field Notes Collection
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Collection Overview
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The Frank Stephens Field Notes collection consists of notebooks, travel diaries, and species lists from collecting trips. In addition, the collection includes biographical material, a small number of photographs, one hand-drawn map, and photocopies of Stephen's letters to William Brewster (originals are housed at the Harvard University's Ernst Mayr Museum of Comparative Zoology).
Frank Stephens was born on April 2, 1849 near Portage in Livingston County, New York, the eldest of four sons of Nelson and Julia Benson. While Stephens was a teenager, the family moved to the Midwest, farming in Michigan, Illinois, Missouri and Kansas. Stephens moved to Colorado in 1874, where he married Elizabeth Fowler and studied taxidermy with ornithologist Charles E. Aiken. In the early 1880s, Stephens worked in mining communities in southwest New Mexico and Arizona while collecting for Aikens and for William Brewster of Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology. Stephens moved to California in 1876 and settled in Witch Creek, San Diego County, California, farming, collecting, and working intermittently for the U. S. Biological Survey. He collected for Donald Ryder Dickey and C. Hart Merriam, among others. He was a collector for the U. S. Department of Agriculture's 1891 Death Valley Expedition. After his first wife's death in January 1898, Stephens married Kate Brown in August 1898; she accompanied him on several collecting trips including the 1907 Alaska expedition sponsored by Annie Alexander of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology (MVZ). Stephens also participated in Joseph Grinnell's 1910 MVZ expedition on the Colorado River. A frequent contributor to The Condor, Stephens published his magnum opus California Mammals in 1906. He was an early member of the San Diego Society of Natural History and the first curator of mammalogy for the San Diego Natural History Museum; he was also a founding member of the San Diego Zoological Society. He is credited with collecting at least 45 type specimens. Stephens was struck by a street-car in San Diego and died ten days after the accident on October 5, 1937 in San Diego.
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The collection is open to researchers by appointment. Contact the Research Library Director, San Diego Natural History Museum.