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Behler, John L. WCS Herpetology Department Curator records, 1921-2005  

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Guide to the records of the Department of Herpetology Curator, John L. Behler, 1921-2005

Guide to the Records of the Department of Herpetology Curator John L. Behler, 1921-2005 2043

Guide to the Records of the Department of Herpetology Curator John L. Behler, 1924-2005
2043

Collection Overview

Repository
Wildlife Conservation Society Archives
Creator
Behler, John L.
Collection Number
2043
Title
Wildlife Conservation Society. Department of Herpetology. Office of Curator. John Behler records
Date
1924-2005 (Bulk, 1969-2001)
Extent
30.42 linear feet (21 cartons, 12 hollinger boxes)
Language
English
Abstract
The collection consists of correspondence, administrative and subject files, and publications from the New York Zoological Society’s long-term Herpetology Curator, John Behler. Over the years, Behler held administrative positions within the Society outside of the Herpetology Department, such as co-chair of the Safety Committee and Program Director of the Society’s Wildlife Survival Center on Saint Catherines Island, Georgia. Along the way Behler also found time to conduct research on snakebites and antivenin in order to update New York City’s emergency snakebite protocol, to contribute to several herpetological professional societies, and to work on numerous field conservation projects, with special focuses on chelonians, crocodilians, and the fauna of Madagascar. The collection documents all of these activities, as well as the work of the Exploration and Scientific Collection Committee of the Board of Trustees, chaired by Nixon Griffis (Behler was its Secretary), and the Nixon Griffis Fund for Zoological Research, which Behler administered for the Society.

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Indexing Terms

Corporate Name(s)

  • New York Zoological Park.
  • New York Zoological Society. Board of Trustees. Exploration and Scientific Collection Committee.
  • New York Zoological Society. Herpetology Department.
  • New York Zoological Society.
  • Nixon Griffis Fund for Zoological Research.
  • Wildlife Conservation Society (New York, N.Y.). Wildlife Survival Center (Saint Catherines Island, Ga.).
  • Wildlife Conservation Society (New York, N.Y.).

Personal Name(s)

  • Behler, John L.
  • Griffis, Nixon

Subject(s)

  • Herpetologists
  • Herpetology
  • Snakebites
  • Wildlife conservation
  • Wildlife conservation -- Madagascar
  • Wildlife management
  • Wildlife management -- Madagascar
  • Zoo animals
  • Zoos -- Administration
  • Zoos -- Employees

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Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Certain portions of this collection are restricted. Please contact the WCS Archives regarding these access restrictions.

Usage Restrictions

Please contact the WCS Archives regarding possible usage restrictions.

Acquisition Information

Internal transfer, 1991 (Acc. 1991.002).
Internal transfer, 1992 (Acc. 1992.002).
Internal transfer, 1992 (Acc. 1992.005).
Internal transfer, 1994 (Acc. 1994.004).
Internal transfer, 1994 (Acc. 1994.005).
Internal transfer, 1996 (Acc. 1996.004).
Internal transfer, 1998 (Acc. 1998.014).
Internal transfer, 1999 (Acc. 1999.031).
Internal transfer, 2001 (Acc. 2001.011).
Internal transfer, 2006 (Acc. 2006.005).

Repository Contact

Wildlife Conservation Society Archives

2300 Southern Boulevard
Bronx, NY, 10460
718.220.6874
library@wcs.org

Related Collections

Collection 2010. Safety Committee records, 1970-2001.

Please contact the Wildlife Conservation Society Archives for information on other related collections.

Preferred Citation

[Item], [Date]. John L. Behler records, 1924-2005. Collection 2043. Wildlife Conservation Society Archives, New York.

Items Separated

One carton of herpetology newsletters, journals, and other publications (including some specifically relating to New York City and New York State) has been removed for transfer to the WCS library. One Hollinger box of Nixon Griffis project records (Acc. 2001.012) has been transferred to Collection 3001: New York Aquarium (which appeared to have previously acquired some of the files on Griffis’s folder list kept with these records); see the full series description for more detail on the materials included in the transfer. A small metal card file with annotated addresses, clippings, and other notes has been removed due to mold damage. Finally, one and a half Hollinger boxes of personnel files and one Hollinger box of daily reports have been set aside for review by Human Resources and Animal Records, respectively.

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Biographical Note

In the late 1960s the General Director of the New York Zoological Society, William Conway, instituted a program of leadership development whereby promising, early-career zoo professionals would train as interns under the Bronx Zoo’s established animal curators. As the intern in the Herpetology Department under Curator F. Wayne King, John Behler flourished, quickly assuming more and more responsibility as King gradually moved from the Herpetology Department to the Society’s burgeoning conservation programs. Behler would remain Curator of Herpetology from 1976, when he fully took over the position, until his untimely death in 2006. Over the years Behler served on various staff committees—notably co-chairing the Safety Committee--and held other administrative positions such as Program Director of the Society’s Wildlife Survival Center on Saint Catherines Island, Georgia. Along the way Behler also found time to hold leadership roles in several herpetological professional societies, to work on numerous field conservation projects, with special focuses on chelonians, crocodilians, and the fauna of Madagascar, and to mentor a generation of herpetologists.

NYZS / WCS Career Chronology
1969-1970 Curatorial Intern, Herpetology
1971-1973 Assistant Curator, Herpetology
1974-1975 Associate Curator, Herpetology
1976-2006 Curator, Herpetology

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Scope and Content

The collection consists of correspondence, administrative and subject files, and publications from the New York Zoological Society’s long-term Herpetology Curator, John Behler, as well as records that Behler administered for Society trustee Nixon Griffis. The correspondence is divided between external correspondence between Behler and the general public, and colleagues outside of the Society, and internal correspondence between Behler, the rest of the Herpetology Department, and other Society personnel. The administrative and subject files include records pertaining to the management of the Herpetology Department, administration of the Society in general, Behler’s leadership roles in other conservation and zoo groups, and Behler’s research and topical files. The collection also contains the records that Behler held in his office as of his passing. These include Behler’s reference files on ecology and animal management; articles and reports by himself and others on various zoo and conservation topics; materials pertaining to his work with the Madagascar Fauna Group and other conservation efforts in Madagascar; records of his participation at meetings, workshops, and specialist groups of various zoo and conservation organizations; photographs; records reflecting his tenure as Program Director for the Society’s Wildlife Survival Center on Saint Catherines Island; and Behler’s research on snakebites and antivenin that he used to update New York City’s emergency snakebite protocol (which in turn became a topic for his lectures and papers). Additionally, the collection contains records from the Exploration and Scientific Collection Committee [ESCC] of the Board of Trustees and the Nixon Griffis Fund for Zoological Research [NGFZR]. Finally, the collection also includes reprints of some of Behler’s professional herpetological writings, as well as herpetology-related reprints from other NYZS staff, notably Peter Brazaitis.

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Arrangement

The Behler collection consists of several accessions, as well as materials without clear accession information. Each folder is marked with its accession number when known. For the most part the series contain files from multiple accessions; however, the accession resulting from the closeout of Behler’s office after his passing in 2006 has been given its own series.

In the Correspondence series documents are usually filed by the correspondent’s last name, but occasionally correspondence with people in other countries is filed under the country. Sometimes items are found under either an organizational name or a subject listing instead.

The collection contains the following series and subseries:

Series 1:
 Correspondence, 1942-2001 [Acc. 1994.005, 1996.004, 1999.031, 2001.011, and unknown]
     Subseries 1.1:
 General correspondence, 1969-2001
     Subseries 1.2:
 Interoffice correspondence, 1942-2001
Series 2:
 Herpetology administrative and subject files, 1947-2005 [Acc. 1994.005, 1991.002, 1992.002 and unknown]
     Subseries 1.2:
 Herpetology Department administration, 1955-1999
     Subseries 2.2:
 NYZS and WCS administration, 1958-1999
     Subseries 2.3:
 Zoo group administration, 1979-1991
     Subseries 2.4:
 Research and topical files, 1947-2005 (bulk 1968-1988)
Series 3:
 Behler 2006 office closing records, 1924-2005
     Subseries 3.1:
 Ecology and conservation files, 1936-2006 (bulk 1968-1992)
     Subseries 3.2:
 Herpetology articles, handouts, and reports, 1965-1992
     Subseries 3.3:
 Madagascar, 1987-2005 (bulk 1997-2004)
     Subseries 3.4:
 Meetings and conferences, 1982-2005
     Subseries 3.5:
 Photographs, [circa 1960s-late 1980s]
     Subseries 3.6:
 St. Catherines Island Wildlife Survival Center, 1977-2004 (bulk 1994-2001)
     Subseries 3.7:
 Snakebite research, 1924-1994 (bulk 1971-1989)
Series 4:
 Behler / Griffis files, 1976-1998
     Subseries 4.1:
 Exploration and Scientific Collection Committee, 1976-1985
     Subseries 4.2:
 Nixon Griffis Fund for Zoological Research, 1985-1998 (bulk 1985-1994)
     Subseries 4.3:
 Nixon Griffis Fund for Zoological Research--Project Closeout Files, 1983-1994
Series 5:
 Additions
     Subseries 5.1:
 Articles and publications, 1966-2005

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Other Finding Aids

The Wildlife Conservation Society Archives holds additional descriptive information pertaining to this collection; please contact the archivist for more detail.

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Wildlife Conservation Society Library & Archives | 2300 Southern Blvd. Bronx, NY 10460 | library[at]wcs[dot]org


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