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Wildlife Conservation Society. Department of Herpetology. Office of Curator. John Behler records

 Collection
Identifier: 2043
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.

Dates

  • 1924 - 2005
  • Majority of material found within 1969 - 2001

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.

Extent

30.05 Linear Feet (21 cartons, 12 Hollinger boxes)

Overview

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.

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

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

Other Finding Aids

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

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).

Related Collections

Please contact the Wildlife Conservation Society Archives for information on other related collections.
For information on other related collections, see "Herpetology-Collection Descriptions.doc", the master list of Herpetology collections and accessions.
Title
Guide to the Records of the Department of Herpetology Curator John L. Behler, 1921-2005
Status
Published
Author
Finding aid prepared by Leilani Dawson, Processing Archivist
Date
May 2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English

Revision Statements

  • 2014-12-18: Date of collection changed based on a change of dates attributed to the folder of Walter Auffenberg's Komodo Island photographs (Series 3, box 26). Based on the appearance of John H. H. (Ben) Phipps in one of the photos, they were determined to be dated from the time of Auffenberg's 1969-1970 field research on Komodo dragons, not from 1920s as originally thought.

Repository Details

Part of the Wildlife Conservation Society Archives Repository

Contact:
WCS Library/Archives
2300 Southern Blvd
Bronx New York 10460 United States