Hildegarde Howard

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Hildegarde Howard
Born (1901-04-03)April 3, 1901
Washington, D.C.
Died February 28, 1998(1998-02-28) (aged 96)
Laguna Hills, California
Fields Paleornithology
Institutions Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History
Alma mater U.C. Berkeley
Doctoral advisors Joseph Grinnell
Other academic advisors William Diller Matthew, Loye H. Miller
Known for Significant contributions to the field of paleornithology
Notable awards Brewster Medal

Hildegarde Howard (April 3, 1901 – February 28, 1998) was the "preeminent paleornithologist", pioneering the field of avian paleontology.[1] She was well known for her discoveries in the La Brea Tar Pits, such as the Rancho La Brea eagles. She was the first woman awarded the Brewster Medal and the first woman president of the Southern California Academy of Sciences.[2]


Howard's parents—her father, a scriptwriter, and her mother, a musician/composer—moved to Los Angeles in 1906.[3] In 1920 she began attending what was then known as the Southern Branch of the University of California (later renamed UCLA).[3] Her first biology teacher, Pirie Davidson, inspired her to switch her career from journalism to biology, and helped her get a job working for mammalian paleontologist Chester Stock on the La Brea Tar Pits.[3] She completed her bachelor's degree at U.C. Berkeley, taking courses in paleontology.[3] In 1923 she began working at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, doing work on saber-toothed tiger fossils.[4] This work rapidly expanded into the field of avian evolution, where over her 69-year publishing career she described 3 families, 13 genera, 57 species, and 2 subspecies.[5]

Henry Anson and Howard conserved the fossils together after a flood where they fell in love and later married in (d.1984) in 1930.[3]

Significant works[edit]

Howard published approximately 150 scientific papers over the course of her career, and rose to become the Chief Curator at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County for a decade.[5] She was the first one to specialize in bird fossils and her works are still considered to this day.[6][6][7]

  • Howard, Hildegarde (1929), "The avifauna of Emeryville shellmound", University of California Publications in Zoology, 32 (2): 301–394 
  • Howard described the first "toothed" bird from North America and assigned the name "Osteodontornis" to it.[8]
  • Howard, Hildegarde (1962), "Fossil Birds", Science Series, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, 17: 44 
  • Howard, Hildegarde (1969), "A New Avian Fossil from Kern County, California", The Condor, Cooper Ornithological Society, 71: 68–69, doi:10.2307/1366050 
  • Howard, Hildegarde (1970), "A review of the extinct avian genus, Mancalla", Contributions in Science, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, 203: 1–12 



  1. ^ Joyce Harvey & Marilyn Ogilvie (2000), The Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science, Volume 1, pp.621 et seq
  2. ^ a b c d Oliver, Myrna (March 4, 1998). "Hildegarde Howard; Avian Paleontologist, Curator". Los Angeles Times. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Frank Perry, "Hildegarde Howard", Monterey Bay Paleontological Society (last visited April 13, 2013).
  4. ^ "Hildegarde Howard" (obituary), Toledo Blade, March 6, 1998.
  5. ^ a b Campbell, Kenneth E.; Jr (2000). "In Memoriam: Hildegarde Howard, 1901-1998". The Auk. 117 (3): 775–779. doi:10.1642/0004-8038(2000)117[0775:IMHH]2.0.CO;2. 
  6. ^ a b http://articles.latimes.com/1998/mar/04/news/mn-25457
  7. ^ http://trowelblazers.com/hildegarde-howard/
  8. ^ http://www.calcentral.com/~fossils/peopled.html
  9. ^ Hildegarde Howard Archived 2012-06-14 at the Wayback Machine., John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (last visited April 13, 2013).
  10. ^ "Honorary Members" Archived 2013-05-09 at the Wayback Machine., Cooper Ornithological Society (last visited April 13, 2013).

Further research[edit]

  • Joyce Harvey & Marilyn Ogilvie (2000), The Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science, Volume 1, pp. 621 et seq
  • Campbell, Kenneth E., Jr., editor. 1980. "Papers in Avian Paleontology Honoring Hildegarde Howard", Contributions in Science: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, No. 330 (Sept. 15 1970), 296 p. (Includes biographical sketches and a bibliography of her works.)
  • Campbell, Kenneth E. Jr (2000). "In Memoriam: Hildegarde Howard, 1901-1998". The Auk. 117 (3): 775–779. doi:10.2307/4089601. 
  • Campbell, Kenneth E. Jr (2000). "Hildegarde Howard". Society of Vertebrate Paleontology News Bulletin. 178: 131–133. 

External links[edit]