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 • Olney
 • Richland County
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Robert Ridgway
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Birth: Jul. 2, 1850
Mount Carmel
Wabash County
Illinois, USA
Death: Mar. 25, 1929
Olney
Richland County
Illinois, USA

The leading ornithologist of his time, Ridgway was a protege of zoologist Spencer Fullerton, who, on becoming the secretary of the Smithsonian, appointed Ridgway the first full-time curator of birds at the U.S. National Museum. He served from 1880 until his death in 1929.

Ridgway also published one of the first and most important color system for bird identification, with his 1886 book A Nomenclature of Colors for Naturalists (Boston: Little, Brown & Co.). In 1912 he self-published a larger work on color nomenclature, Color Standards and Color Nomenclature, financed using money from his friend and colleague José Castulo Zeledón of Costa Rica. Ornithologists all over the world continue to cite Ridgway's color studies and books.

In the Spring of 1867, at the age of 16, Ridgway was hired as the naturalist on Clarence King's Survey of the 40th Parallel. In an undertaking that lasted nearly two years, Ridgway collected many bird specimens and served as a key member on one of the four great surveys of the American West. Upon his return to the Smithsonian, he was taken on in an informal basis until he was formally named as the Curator of Ornithology. Although Ridgway had nothing more than a high school education, he was articulate and literate, and served as the Smithsonian's mouthpiece and representative for many years in the study of birds. Friends and colleagues described him as almost painfully shy, and he generally shirked publicity and the limelight.

In 1875 he married Julia Evelyn Perkins. They had one son, Audubon Whelock Ridgway, who died of pneumonia in 1901 while working at the Field Museum in Chicago.

Ridgway was the joint author (with Thomas Mayo Brewer and Spencer Fullerton Baird) of History of North American Birds (Boston, 1875-1884; Land Birds, 3 vols., Water Birds, 2 vols). He also authored several other books and monographs, and had a total of more than 450 articles and publications to his credit.

In 1899, he joined E. H. Harriman on his famous Harriman Alaska Expedition of the Alaska coastline, where he was accompanied by John Muir and a number of other naturalists and scientists, for an extended study of Alaska's coastline flora and fauna.

Ridgway's brother, John Livzey Ridgway (1859–1947) was a scientific illustrator. John collaborated with his brother on ornithological illustration and published his own works.

Birds named for Ridgway include the Buff-collared Nightjar, Caprimulgus ridgwayi, Ridgway's Hawk, Buteo ridgwayi, the Aztec Thrush, Ridgwayia pinicola, and the Caribbean subspecies of the Osprey, Pandion haliaetus ridgwayi.
 
 
Family links: 
 Parents:
  David Ridgway (1819 - 1888)
  Henrietta James Reed Ridgway (1833 - 1886)
 
 Spouse:
  Julia Evelyn Perkins Ridgway (1857 - 1927)
 
 Children:
  Audubon Wheelock Ridgway (1877 - 1901)*
 
 Siblings:
  Robert Ridgway (1850 - 1929)
  John Livzey Ridgway (1859 - 1947)*
  John Livzey Ridgway (1859 - 1947)*
  Joseph H Ridgway (1864 - 1907)*
  Willie Ivens Ridgway (1872 - 1872)*
  Clarence David Ridgway (1872 - 1902)*
 
*Calculated relationship
 
Burial:
Bird Haven Cemetery
Olney
Richland County
Illinois, USA
 
Created by: Joseph Colin Clark
Record added: Apr 30, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 36567700
Robert Ridgway
Added by: Joseph Colin Clark
 
Robert Ridgway
Added by: Kathy (Kuenstler) Hursta ღ
 
 
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- PollysGranddaughter
 Added: Aug. 12, 2012
 
 
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