New York Aquarium. Office of Director. Charles M. Breder and Christopher W. Coates records
Scope and Content
The collection includes correspondence, reports, and financial records from New York Aquarium Directors Charles M. Breder and Christopher W. Coates. Breder's records pertain primarily to the work of Myron Gordon at the Aquarium's Fish Genetics Laboratory. Coates's materials also include correspondence with and about Gordon, but are more varied. Other materials include articles written by Coates, as well as files on electric eels, the operation of the Bronx Zoo’s Penguin House, the earthworms and other creatures Aquarium staff raised to feed the Bronx Zoo’s platypuses, and the ownership of the business name "New York Aquarium".
- 1939 - 1956
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Please contact the WCS Archives regarding possible usage restrictions.
Charles M. Breder Jr. and Christopher W. Coates were, respectively, the second and third Directors of the New York Aquarium [NYA] following its acquisition by the New York Zoological Society in 1902. The two men led the Aquarium through the 16-year period between the closure of its original building in Manhattan's Battery Park (1941) through the opening of its current facility on Coney Island in Brooklyn (1957). Breder and Coates were each known for their research pursuits, Breder in the fields of fish locomotion and aquarium water chemistry, and Coates for his work with electric eels (popularized with live demonstrations at the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair). Coates additionally authored popular books and articles on the topic of raising tropical fish in home aquaria.
In the period the NYA was without a building of its own, many of its fish, reptile, bird, and aquatic mammal exhibits found a temporary home in the Lion House of the Bronx Zoo. The Aquarium's research laboratories, meanwhile, continued their work in space rented from the American Museum of Natural History [AMNH]. Perhaps the most prominent of these labs was the Fish Genetics Laboratory, where Myron Gordon researched the genetic aspects of and mechanisms for speciation, sex determination, and tumor development, with a particular interest in melanomas in platyfish and swordtails.
Both Breder and Coates continued their ichthyological pursuits after retiring from their tenures as NYA Director. Breder was particularly active; in addition to holding a senior research associate position at the Aquarium, he served as a long-term board member (and, in 1967, Interim Director) of Florida's Mote Marine Laboratory.
For a more thorough history of the New York Aquarium (1902-2014), including a complete list of NYA Directors, see the finding aid for Collection 3001: New York Aquarium records, circa 1900-1998 (bulk 1960-1990). For additional biographical information on Breder see the website of the Mote Marine Laboratory's Archives, which holds collections of Breder's research journals and papers: https://dspace.mote.org/dspace/handle/2075/2907, as well as Copeia No. 3, pp. 853-856, 1986, which includes a biography of Breder written by former NYA Assistant Curator James W. Atz.
NYA Career Chronology: Charles M. Breder, Jr.
- Assistant Aquarist
- Research Associate
- Assistant Director
- Acting Director
- Research Associate (from 1967 onwards with the Aquarium's Osborn Laboratories of Marine Sciences rather than with the Aquarium itself)
NYA Career Chronology: Christopher W. Coates
- Visiting Student
- (Employee, title not specified in annual reports but other sources indicate he may have been Curator of Tropical Fish)
- Curator and Aquarist (During this period the Aquarium did not have a Director)
- Director Emeritus
0.4 Linear Feet (2 half-Hollinger boxes)
Language of Materials
The collection holds records from Charles M. Breder and Christopher W. Coates, who were, respectively, the last Director of the New York Aquarium in its original building in Battery Park on Manhattan (where it was located from 1896 to 1941) and the first Director of the New York Aquarium in its current facility on Coney Island in Brooklyn (where it has been located from 1957 until the present). Breder's records pertain primarily to the work of Myron Gordon at the Aquarium's Fish Genetics Laboratory. Coates's materials are more varied, and include files pertaining to Aquarium administrative matters and to its assistance with exhibits at the Bronx Zoo during the period, 1941-1957, when the Aquarium was without a location of its own.
This collection is arranged in two series:
- Series 1
- NYA Directors Charles M. Breder, Jr. and Christopher W. Coates records, 1940-circa 1956
- Series 2
- NYA Aquarist and Curator Christopher W. Coates records, 1939-1954
Collection processed and finding aid created by Leilani Dawson, September 2014.
- Aquatic animals
- Breder, Charles M. (Charles Marcus), 1897-1983
- Coates, Christopher W. (Christopher William)
- Electrophorus (Fish)
- Gordon, Myron, 1899-1959
- New York Aquarium
- New York Aquarium. Fish Genetics Laboratory
- New York Zoological Society
- New York Zoological Society
- Public aquariums
- Zoo exhibits
- Guide to the records of New York Aquarium Directors Charles M. Breder and Christopher W. Coates, 1939-1956
- Leilani Dawson
- September 2014
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note
Part of the Wildlife Conservation Society Archives Repository
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