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Natural History Museum

MEINERTZHAGEN, Richard (1878-1967)


Reference code(s): GB 0060 DF 5003

Held at: Natural History Museum

Title: MEINERTZHAGEN, Richard (1878-1967)

Date(s): 1914-1961

Level of description: sub-fonds

Extent: 1 volume

Name of creator(s): Meinertzhagen | Richard | 1878-1967 | ornithologist


Administrative/Biographical history:

Richard Meinertzhagen was born in London and educated at Harrow School and the University of Göttingen. He spent much of his childhood at Mottisfont Abbey in Hampshire, and became a keen ornithologist. He joined the army in 1899, serving in India and East Africa, and as Intelligence Officer with the Egyptian Expeditionary Force and in Allenby's Palestine Campaign. Meinertzhagen was in the intelligence branch of GHQ in France, an

He attended the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. He held military posts at the Foreign Office until 1925, when he retired to devote himself to ornithology. For the rest of his long life, Meinertzhagen travelled in north Africa and the Middle East, studying and collecting birds, although he retained an involvement with military intelligence and the secret service. He published a series of autobiographical diaries, as well as papers in The Ibis and books on the birds of Arabia and elsewhere. He was Vice-President and medallist of the British Ornithologists' Union and President of the British Ornithologists' Club. He was made a CBE for his services to ornithology.

Meinertzhagen was associated with the Museum throughout his life, and was a regular visitor to the Bird Room for nearly sixty years. It was not an easy relationship: he was often fiercely critical of the Museum, and his own conduct gave cause for concern on several occasions. In spite of this he was made an Honorary Associate, and presented his library and collections of birds, insects and plants in 1950 and 1954. Since his death evidence has emerged that many of his birdskins were stolen or had been given false localities.


Scope and content/abstract:

Volume of correspondence of Richard Meinertzhagen including official receipts from the Museum for donations (1914-1956), drafts of his critical memoranda on the state of the Museum (1939-1945), letters from Museum staff and trustees on his collections from the Hogga Mountains, Algeria (1931-1932), and correspondence on the disposal of his bird collection (1950-1954).


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

As outlined in scope and content.

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Conditions governing reproduction:

Physical characteristics:

Finding aids:

Detailed catalogue


Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:



Existence and location of originals:

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Publication note:



Archivist's note: Entry copied from the Natural History Museum online catalogue by Sarah Drewery.
References: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; Cocker, M., Richard Meinertzhagen, soldier, scientist and spy (Secker & Warburg, 1989), pp. 292.

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: Sep 2008

Ornithology | Zoology

Personal names
Meinertzhagen | Richard | 1878-1967 | colonial administrator and ornithologist

Corporate names
Natural History Museum

Algeria | North Africa