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New York Aquarium. Office of Director. Charles M. Breder and Christopher W. Coates records

 Fonds
Identifier: 3009
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".

Dates

  • 1939 - 1956

Creator

Access Restrictions

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

Use Restrictions

Please contact the WCS Archives regarding possible usage restrictions.

Extent

0.4 Linear Feet (2 half-Hollinger boxes)

Abstract

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.

History

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.
1920-1922
Aquarist
1923-1924
Assistant Aquarist
1925-1930
Research Associate
1932-1936
Assistant Director
1927-1938
Acting Director
1939-1943
Director
1943-1983
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
1930
Visiting Student
1931-1936
(Employee, title not specified in annual reports but other sources indicate he may have been Curator of Tropical Fish)
1937-1942
Aquarist
1943-1955
Curator and Aquarist (During this period the Aquarium did not have a Director)
1956-1964
Director
1964-1973
Director Emeritus
Internal note on species named after Breder: “In 1948 another ichthyologist, Fernández-Yépez, named a new species of belonid, Ichthyacus breederi, in honor of Dr. Breder. (The fish is now called Hyporhamphus brederi).” Quote from biography of Breder at Mote Marine Lab's archival collections portal page on him: https://dspace.mote.org/dspace/handle/2075/2907, accessed 2014/09/08.

Arrangement

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

Related Materials

Collection 3001. New York Aquarium records, circa 1900-1998 (bulk 1960-1990).

Collection 3021. Myron Gordon records, 1900-1978 (bulk 1940-1958).

Collection 3054. New York Aquarium senior staff records, 1955-1979 (bulk 1964-1979).

Please contact the Wildlife Conservation Society Archives for information on additional holdings related to this collection.

Also note the Archives of Mote Marine Laboratory, which holds Charles M. Breder archival collections: https://dspace.mote.org/dspace/handle/2075/2907.

Processing Information

Collection processed and finding aid created by Leilani Dawson, September 2014.
Title
Guide to the records of New York Aquarium Directors Charles M. Breder and Christopher W. Coates, 1939-1956
Status
completed
Author
Leilani Dawson
Date
September 2014
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
English

Repository Details

Part of the Wildlife Conservation Society Archives Repository

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