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Henry Fairfield Osborn
H. F. Osborn.jpg
Photo from 1919
Born August 8, 1857
Died November 6, 1935
Alma mater Princeton University
Known for Geology, paleontology, eugenics

Henry Fairfield Osborn, Sr. FRS (August 8, 1857 – November 6, 1935) was an American geologist, paleontologist, and eugenist, and the president of the American Museum of Natural History for 25 years.

Osborn was one of the great dinosaur fossil hunters in the late 19th century. Osborn got a Sc.D. in paleontology from Princeton, and was Professor of Comparative Anatomy there from 1883–1890. In 1891, Osborn was hired by Columbia University as a professor of zoology. At the same time, he got a position at the American Museum of Natural History, New York. He served there as the curator of a newly formed Department of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Osborn named Tyrannosaurus rex and Velociraptor, and many other dinosaurs. His biographer Ronald Rainger said he was "a first-rate science administrator and a third-rate scientist". Under his leadership, staff of the American Museum of Natural History worked on displays. The museum became one of the top exhibitions in the early twentieth century. As a result, the murals, habitat dioramas, and dinosaur mounts attracted millions of visitors, and inspired other museums to imitate. His decision to invest heavily in exhibitions angered curators, who hoped to spend more time on their own research.



He advocated that heredity is superior to influences from the environment. As an extension of this, he accepted that distinct races existed with fixed hereditary traits, and held the Nordic or Anglo-Saxon "race" to be highest, which of course, incorrect.

Osborn supported eugenics to preserve "good" racial stock. Due to this, he endorsed Madison Grant's The Passing of the Great Race, writing both the second and fourth prefaces of the book, which discussed these views. The book was also largely influential on Adolf Hitler. Sadly Hitler called the book ‘his bible’ for it advocated elimination of people who are weak or unfit.

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