Herbert Girton Deignan

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Herbert Girton Deignan (December 5, 1906 – March 15, 1968) was an American ornithologist who worked extensively on the birds of Thailand.

Deignan was born in New Jersey, the son of Harry Francis and Anna Galena. He grew up in Pennsylvania and schooled in Mercersburg Academy before going to Princeton where he graduated with an Arts Baccalaureate in 1928. He became interested in birds early on and got in contact with Charles H Rogers, curator of the Princeton collections. He became interested in Thailand (Siam) and after graduating he took up a position in the Chiangmai college in northern Siam as a teacher of English. He stayed there from 1928 to 1932, collecting birds in the region that he sent back to Charles Rogers at Princeton.

When he returned to the US in 1932, the depression meant no jobs. He held a temporary assignment at the US National Museum thanks to Alexander Wetmore. He then took a position at the Library of Congress from 1934 to 1935, and his familiarity with Asian languages helped index the catalogues of the library holdings in Sanskrit and Siamese. He then went back to Chiangmai to take back his position and stayed from 1935 to 1937 during which time he was supported in bird collection by the Smithsonian Institution. On returning in 1938 he was appointed in the bird division of the US National Museum and later obtained the Smithsonian's Bacon Scholarship, enabling him to visit museums in Europe. Around this time he met Stella Leche, a physical anthropologist, and they married.

Deignan became a member of the American Ornithologists' Union in 1923 and became a Life fellow in 1946 going on to serve as Secretary from 1959 to 1961. He published taxonomic revisions, collection catalogues and descriptions of birds from various parts of the world, especially Southeast Asia.[1]


  1. ^ Friedman, Herbert (1970). "In memoriam: Herbert Girton Deignan" (PDF). The Auk 87 (1): 14–19. doi:10.2307/4083656.